Underrated Gem: Cold Steel (1987)

On Christmas Eve in LA, renegade cop Johnny Modine’s father is brutally murdered by a knife-wielding maniac.  Johnny wants answers. And will stop at nothing to get the men responsible. But Johnny doesn’t realise a deadly game of revenge and deception has begun.

Cold Steel, like William Lustig’s Hit List and Gary Busey’s Bulletproof and the Carradine starrer Armed Response, is one of those neat little 80’s B movies that manages to rise above its modest foundations and be simply enjoyable on its own terms. Cinetel Films produced all three of these 80’s gems, plus numerous other entertaining pics like 976-Evil and the Relentless series.

Brad Davis plays cop Modine and although he seems game for the film’s action, he’s an odd choice for the hero, but hey, he looks like he’s having fun and he brings enough grizzled charisma to make Modine likeable.

Sharon Stone, in one of her early roles, is the femme fatale with a heart of gold who falls for our hero, inspite of her shady motivations. Stone does fine in the role and it’s an interesting glimpse into a future career.

Genre stalwart Jonathan Banks is the villain of the piece and of course he steals the movie. Even at this stage in his tenure, Banks could play these slimy bad guys in his sleep and he’s one of the most enjoyable components in this gripping flick.

Jay Acavone provides the comic relief as Modine’s junk food-obsessed partner and the actors seem to have genuine chemistry in their scenes which ads some levity to the proceedings.

Punk rocker Adam Ant!! Plays one of Banks’s henchmen. Ant is actually pretty good as the scumbag Mick and we can’t wait to see him get his dues in the explosive climax.

A film like Cold Steel lives or dies by its action, and does it deliver? Sure it does.  The film opens with a cool car chase, then gets nice and bloody when Banks arrives, but then it delivers another memorable car chase and a couple of well mounted shoot-outs.  These moments aren’t huge and epic, but they are well executed and done for real and shot in real LA locations. There’s something to be said for the good old days of location shooting and practical effects.  I miss them.

Coupled with a slick 80’s rock score, Cold Steel, like the movies mentioned above, is top class B movie fun.  Back in the day, when films like this hit video, they were given extensive TV advertising.  That’s where I first heard about the film when I saw the awesome commercial.  After seeing it, I wasn’t disappointed and I doubt any action aficionado would be. An underrated gem in my book.