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Chance
(1989)
 

Director: Addison Randall, Charles Kanganis    
Cast:
Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Dan Haggerty


PM Entertainment didn't always make good movies like Last Man Standing, The Sweeper, Executive Target, and Rage. In fact, all their movies made before 1993 (including the titles released under their original name, City Lights) seem to be uniformly awful. There are eight million awful PM/City Lights movies out there - this is one of them.

If Chance does anything positive, it's only to provide an answer to the question, "What ever happened to the guy who played Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington on Welcome Back, Kotter?" The answer is that around this period, Hilton-Jacobs starred in several PM/City Lights movies, even directing some of them. He didn't direct this one, but he might as well have, because it's just as bad as the ones he did direct. Chance is one of the cheapest, flimsiest, and dullest action movie that I've ever seen. It's a movie that was supply-driven, not market-driven. Video stores were still hungry for product to fill their video shelves, so would buy almost anything they were offered. It's a product, not a movie. No wonder nobody from Hilton-Jacobs to the two directors seems to have given a damn about the end results of this movie.

This "what the hell, let's crank 'er out" attitude is evident from the first shot of this movie. The look of this movie just screams, "Cheese!" I can't properly describe the bizarre look of the movie - it's as if a video camera mated with a film camera, and their bastard offspring filmed this movie. Though there's a credit reading "film editor", the visual look of Chance looks almost like it was shot with videotape. As a result, everything about the movie - action, acting - looks really cheesy. Take the beginning scene when Chance (Hilton-Jacobs) steps into a vacant lot to arrest Ash and Worm, two low-life punks in the middle of an arms deal. Of course, there's a shoot-out, and when one of the punks tries to drive away, Chance shoots his car, and there's a fireworks explosion from the car. If the technical skills of porno filmmakers were a notch above their usual standard, they could have passed for directors of Chance.

Chance could be nicknamed "Mild Harry". When in the subsequent scene he is suspended and must turn in his gun and his badge, all he does is softly mutter, "Have a nice day." Mostly in this movie, he stands around silently, whenever he isn't in the middle of a mild fluster or staring dumbly into the camera, like he's a frightened animal looking into the headlights of an approaching car. Neither is his best friend Zack (Haggerty) any interest, especially in his first scene. Zack, a closet alcoholic, is seen opening a toilet tank, to take out a bottle of Jack Daniels. He unscrews the cap. He has a few swigs. He puts the cap back on the bottle. He puts the bottle back in the tank. He puts the lid back on the toilet. Then we see him get out some mouthwash. Then some toothpaste. And a brush. We see him put toothpaste on the brush. Then he starts brushing his teeth, which is the first of many close-ups of people's mouths in this movie. He rinses. Then puts the items back. Obviously the directors were striving for intense realism in this movie, but they forgot that in many cases, real life is frequently boring. Even in the earlier diamond heist, which could have provided some excitement, the directors find the security guard in another part of the movie interesting, with frequent cuts to him showing suspenseful (and uncut) scenes of him unfolding and reading a newspaper, opening his thermos to pour himself coffee and drink it, getting a cigarette, lighting it up, smoking it, etc. Though in its defense, the directors also show us every step of the diamond robbery itself, from the masked robbers opening the locked fence, walking to the fire escape, climbing several stories to the top, walking across the roof, then...I think you get the idea.

Eventually, the stolen diamonds get into the unknowing hands of Zack, who works as a repo man, and repos the car that the diamonds are hidden in. Terry, the typically long blond haired mastermind (who acts half gay and half bored) behind the robbery naturally hires his goons to retrieve the diamonds by any means necessary. Along the way, we get the typical shoot-outs, though sometimes we don't see the bullets hitting around the heroes taking cover, which makes me conclude the villains are exceptionally bad shots. That could explain why we see the shooters in one insert shooting at the same angle as they did earlier - as if the footage was repeated. Same with a few close-ups of hands reloading shells in a shotgun. There are the typical chases, though I don't know why the heroes don't simply smash their car next to a pursuing motorcyclist at one point. When the heroes are falsely accused of crimes, they are put in a holding cell, which leads to the unexpected cry from another prisoner, "We've got a cop in our cell!", and that leads to a fight scene where fists manage to land blows from mere inches away. Such things like this happen throughout the movie until the climax, which, of course, takes place in a dark, deserted warehouse. Here, we are treated to the dullest and most badly directed warehouse shoot-out of all time. The bad guys are dead, yay! exclaim the heroes just before the triumphant freeze-frame and subsequent credits, despite a few plot threads still hanging....like Zack's alcoholism, the fact that they are still out on bail, that they now don't have proof of their innocence now that the bad guys are all dead, etc. etc. etc.

Though as the credits were being displayed on the screen, I was trying to reason more with the fact that Hilton-Jacobs here is credited with "additional dialogue".  But really, as I said earlier, the only possible thing this movie does is answer what happened to Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. (He's since moved on to playing minor roles in made-for-TV movies.) Now you know, and now you can get on with your life. Which, hopefully, will mean you'll be using the time to watch better movies than this.

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See also: Dance Or Die, Video Violence, Spoiler

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