Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 9 - City Limits (1984)

The cover of my VHS copy of City Limits

City Limits (1984)
Director: Aaron Lipstadt
Format: VHS (Vestron)

In the future a plague has wiped out most of the population. Motorcycle gangs the Clippers and the DAs share control of a major US city, fighting gunless battles. Young Lee (John Stockwall, CHRISTINE) leaves the desert and goes to the city in search of adventure and joins the Clippers. A corporation from outside the city sides with the DAs, but wants control of the whole city, so starts breaking the rules. Lee and the Clippers must fight back, and soon they unite with the DAs to try to rid their city of the evil outsiders.

This was the second film by director Aaron Lipstadt, who went on to a lengthy career directing TV. It's easy to see how he made that transition, because City Limits has a definite television feel to it. The fights and violence are done in a non-exploitive way and the overall vibe is that of a slightly grittier version of an 80s TV show like Street Hawk or Blue Thunder.

Like most 80s futuristic scifi action flicks, this one is clearly influenced by The Road Warrior, with lots of bulky costumes and motorbikes covered in armor. The sets are your usual post-apocalyptic cityscapes.

The acting is really quite good. Stockwell does a good enough job as the naive young hero and is ably supported by a cast that includes legend James Earl Jones (two years after his villainous turn in CONAN THE BARBARIAN, but back to playing a good guy role) and a whole host of young up and comers. They include Rae Dawn Chong (a year before her star turn in COMMANDO) and Kim Cattrall (already established as an actress but a couple of years prior to breaking out in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and MANNEQUIN).

Also in the cast are familiar faces Robby Benson (WALK PROUD), John Diehl (KICKBOXER 2) and DON OPPER (CRITTERS franchise), who also helped write City Limits. And look out for bit parts by stuntman extraordinaire Gene LeBell and Jason Vorhees himself, Kane Hodder.

The biggest failing is the plot. It lacks direction and just seems to meander along. The concepts are good, but Opper, Lipstadt and company just plain failed to turn them into anything noteworthy.

That's not to say City Limits isn't worth watching. It has a great cast, some interesting ideas and the odd piece of good action. Oh, and Kim Cattrall gets her kit off.

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