Wednesday October 2, 1996
Starting with its very literal title, "Street Corner Justice" belongs on the tube, not the big screen. It's a solid enough rabble-rouser, stirring up widespread fears and frustrations in regard to crime and punishment, but it lacks the style and impact of the classics of the genre, such as Phil Karlson's "The Phoenix City Story" or "Walking Tall."
Marc Singer stars as a glum Pittsburgh cop whose inadvertently videotaped brutal attempted arrest of a clever psychopath (Clint Howard, very good) gets him fired--and not without some reason. Anyway, Singer's Mike Justus (get it?) heads for the San Fernando Valley to check out a recently inherited Craftsman cottage, only to find it in a neighborhood terrorized by a really nasty drug-dealing gang, which makes life especially miserable for the shopkeepers at the local mini-mall. Justus says he's going to be around just long enough to fix up the house and then sell it, but it's obvious he's going to get involved.
Working from a reportedly true incident, co-writers Chuck Bail, Stan Berkowitz and Gary Kent certainly push all the right buttons in showing how law enforcement and the justice system make it difficult for citizens to get adequate protection from the police and even to defend themselves.
There's more potential for excitement here, but largely routine characters, performances and direction (by Bail) keep the picture from seeming more than formulaic.
It also leaves you wishing that there were more pictures out there that depicted normal Latino lives to balance out the gang stereotypes portrayed here.
Street Corner Justice, 1996. Unrated. A Sunset Films International release of a Steel City presentation. Director Chuck Bail. Producers Jack Brown & Bail. Executive producers Brown, Bail, Steve Restivo, Joe Restivo. Screenplay by Stan Berkowitz, Gary Kent & Bail; from a story by Bail. Cinematographers Doug O'Neons, David Golia. Editor W. Peter Miller. Costumes Angee Beckett. Music K. Alexander Wilkinson. Production designer James L. Schoppe. Art directors Warren Young, Fanee Aaron. Set decorators Kristin Peterson, Gabriella A. Goor. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. Marc Singer as Kyle. Steve Railsback as Ryan Freeborn. Kim Lankford as Jenny Connor. Beverly Leech as Willie Gee.