Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shakedown (1988)

Whatever you do... don't call the cops!

Back of DVD:
Peter Weller and Sam Elliot blast their way through the underbelly of New York as they team up to get to the bottom of a police corruption scandal in this action thriller.

When a local drug dealer shoots a dishonest cop in self-defence, lawyer Roland Dalton (Weller) and renegade undercover cop Richie Marks (Elliot) join forces to clear him. But when their investigation leads them into a maze of greed and corruption, they learn that in town where everything is for sale, anything can happen. This pulse-pounding adventure features some of the most incredible stunt work and action sequences ever shot.

Movie Review:
Thanks to my friend Matt over at the Direct to Video Connoisseur I have recently found a new love for direct-to-video, shot-for-tv and otherwise little known movies, particularly of the bad action variety. With that in mind I decided to do my own take on these movies, and today I start with Peter Weller's "Shakedown".

Also known by the name "Blue Jean Cop", this late-80's action flick hit pretty much all the right buttons. Part buddy-cop movie (but replace one cop with a lawyer) and part police procedural, this movie had me hooked form the funky Faith No More style intro song.

A drug dealer is approached in a dark alley by a man in regular clothes wanting to buy drugs. The next thing we see is the two men laying on the ground, shot, being attended to by the police. The dealer survived but what he did not know was that the other guy who did not survive was a plain-clothes cop.

Cut to Peter Weller in his kitchen rocking out to Jimmi Hendrix and mixing the worst looking breakfast shake I have ever seen; the only worse thing in this scene is his tie, which his fiance also notices. Weller then goes to have coffee with the wise-cracking doctor from Scrubs (and one of the Bob's from Office Space) and, hilariously, the technician from Robocop 2 who worked on repairing Robocop (played also by Weller) and plays the prosecution lawyer in this movie. As soon as their eyes meet you can tell that there was a history, and that most likely we will see some action from these two. He even pulls out the "what am I, chopped liver?" line. Weller gets told about the case and goes to find his buddy Sam Elliot, a renegade undercover cop.

I loved the next scene for a few reasons. Elliot is asleep in a 42nd street theatre watching a bad action movie. We only see a small part of it, a guy on skis who spins mid air and fires his automatic machine guns at his pursuer. If this is a real movie, I have to see it. Weller catches up with Elliot in the bathroom (nothing kinky), buys him a hotdog (not from the bathroom) and gets a tip on the case to check out the dead cops house. Weller pulls a great line with "I don't wanna fuck with anybody, I just wanna dance." As they leave the cinema you can see posters of The Soldier and The Exterminator and the cinema sign indicates it is also playing Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and The Hidden. A great year.

Elliot and his cop buddies bust an illegal club and we see some good old fashion police brutality with one cop getting too enthusiastic with a tazer. It's clear Elliot is the only one who disapproves and we get our first sign that there are more bad cops involved in this story than just the dead one.

There is some great action in this film. Elliot jumps out a fourth story window and onto a signpost that falls to the ground with him clinging onto it, destroying a car in the process. He and Weller steal a motorbike and chase after a guy in a police car, who ultimately ends up crashing over a bridge and blowing up. We also get a shootout at a fairground (just like in Passenger 57) and a car chase under a jet taking off (also like Passenger 57). The thing is though, that Passenger 57 came out four years after this. Did Shakedown really have that much influence? A taxi chase through the city, an illegal interrogation of Weller by the bad cops complete with a russian roulette scene; it just keeps getting better.

There is also the side story of Weller double-timing his fiance with the technician from Robocop 2. At one point after doing the deed with her he goes home and crawls into bed with his fiance. Very sly, Weller, very sly.

This movie comes highly recommended. It wraps up all the loose ends and definitely deserves to be better known than it currently is. It's not hard to find on or eBay and goes quite cheap so take my word for it and check out Shakedown.

The DVD:
I reviewed the R1 dvd by Universal. It was presented in OAR 16:9 widescreen and was visually and aurally a very pleasant experience. The picture was sharp and the explosions were loud. Avoid the R4 release under the title "Blue Jean Cop" as it is NOT OAR widescreen. Runtime 97 minutes.

Sourced from:
eBay for AU$3.00 + shipping from USA


More screens:


  1. First I want to congratulate you on post number one, and I can't think of a better film for it. I had three scenes that I loved. First was Sam Elliott on the wheel of the plane, shooting into it as it was flying away. It just reminded me so much of the guy riding teh A-bomb at the end of Dr. Strangelove. Then there was Weller's great speech to his old flame. "Is this some kind of female territorial doo-wop?" Finally, there was the amazing crane scene, with Weller's face as his car was being carried in the air. Great film, and great start to your blog.

  2. Thanks for the comments! Yes this really was a winner and thanks for bringing my attention to it. I'm sure this won't be the last of Weller on this blog either.

  3. The film playing in the 42nd theater IS a real movie-it's called The Soldier and it happens to be directed by the same guy who directed this film and The Exterminator-James Glickenhaus, you should check out James's other films-The Protector, McBain, and of course The Soldier, I know you'll LOVE those films!

  4. That's awesome, I'll have to check it out! There's a real movie called McBain? I thought it that was just a Simpsons character haha.

  5. Yeah there is a Mcbain film, and it has Christopher Walken giving a much more restrained (but still effective) performance then usual, and it's also got Michael Ironside, Steve James, and Maria Conchita Alonso, and it's funny you should mention the Simpsons character, cause as a matter of fact, the studio behind Mcbain actually insisted that the Simpsons writers temporarily refrain from using the name Mcbain in the show-so that's what lead to the writers coming up with the name Rainer Wolfcastle-pretty funny eh?