Cold Heat (1989)

 Cold Heat (1989)- * * *

Directed by: Ulli Lommel

Starring: John Phillip Law, Britt Ekland, Chance Corbitt, Roy Summersett, Joanne Watkins and Robert Sacchi

R.C. Mallon (JPL) and his ex-wife Jackie (Ekland) are in the middle of the mother of all custody battles, if you'll excuse the expression. The fighting over their young son Kenny (Corbitt) has set in motion a chain of events that spiral into fairly outlandish proportions. Mr. Mallon hires a 1940's-style gangster named Mikey Musconi (Sacchi) to kidnap Kenny. His uncanny resemblance to a certain classic Hollywood actor notwithstanding, the former Mrs. Mallon also hires some outside help - the much more likable Mace Dawson (Summersett). Dawson is an alcoholic stunt driver of some sort. Inadvertently, Dawson also nabs Mallon employee Nancy (Watkins), and Kenny grows to like them far more than his embittered parents. Of course, all this is just window dressing so extended car/plane/motorbike chases and blow-ups may occur. Will the COLD relationship between the Mallons produce some real HEAT on the streets of Las Vegas? Dare we all find out?

Famed director Ulli Lommel is no stranger to action, having also been behind Overkill (1987) and The Big Sweat (1991). Here he combines those titles with Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979), if you can believe it. The whole thing, as you might expect, is odd and off-kilter. That's the best aspect of Cold Heat, by the way. The fact that there's some footage from The Junkman (1982) kind of sewn in there for good measure only helps with the unusual ambience.

Of course, there's a very long and drawn out chase, as Lommel did in The Big Sweat. But other possible touchstones to get across the overall feel of the film could be Hollywood Cop (1987) or Beverly Hills Brats (1989). 

Inexplicably, the whole thing is narrated by Sacchi's character. Thankfully, the score by Corneil Rivett is nicely synthy and the 'AIP film from 1989' vibe is reinforced, much to the audience's delight.

Amidst all the familial in-fighting and seemingly random blow-up footage, a new star has come out to shine. One of the police officers in the extended chase sequence is named Captain Bonk. That's right, Bonk. And he was played by a National Treasure named Zeph Hymel - if that's his real name. Shamefully, this is his one credited role. He gives an Academy Award-ready performance as Bonk. We wanted more Bonk. Sadly, we didn't get more Bonk. He should have teamed up with Don Niam and they could have chewed some scenery to shreds. That would have been amazing, but he does work with a fellow officer named McBean (the actor is uncredited). The fact that Bonk & McBean did not spin off into a TV show in 1989 is a crying shame. But, as always, we should be thankful for what we've got.

In the end, if you like car chases and blow-ups (and who doesn't?) but combined with the oddness of John Philip Law, Britt Ekland, and Robert Sacchi all together, combined with Bonk & McBean, and a peculiar and baffling overall tone, do check out Cold Heat. It may not be for everyone, but we suspect it may be for you.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Stunt Fan said...

You gave this a much higher rating than I personally would have. XD

I thought it was one of the most boring movies I'd ever seen in my life. I almost want to put its "little brother" The Big Sweat in the same basket, if not for Robert Z'Dar, and the slightly better pacing. (And I confess to having bought that movie's Blu-ray when it came out a couple years ago.)

It doesn't help that The Junkman is one of my favorite '70s/'80s car chase movies and I've watched it countless times. The way the Cadillac/biplane chase scene was edited and shown in Cold Heat, I almost fell asleep. For me to almost fall asleep during a chase scene, let alone a chase scene I adore (when it's in its own movie, that is), takes off many points for me. You can even hear H.B. Halicki's voice in a couple of spots, as they didn't even replace the sound effects.

Also, I think McBean's actor is credited as "Undercover Cop". Apparently, his name was Billy Nathaniel Woods Jr.

One thing I'll agree on is that the character of Captain Bonk is amazing. "Just like the smell of napalm in the morning... only, this time, with the sweet taste of victory!" The way he and the other officers blow the situation out of proportion is hilarious. "What if he's a terrorist?" "This job's for the National Guard, man!"

And I love the fact that the end credits are made of at least 50% fake names (especially the stuntmen, none of which existed), but they at least credit the "West Coast action scenes" to H.B. Halicki Productions. XD

Ty said...

Thanks for the information and your good points. Got to love Captain Bonk!