One of the great unsung movie genres is films where low budget kickboxing action heroes play lawyers. Don “The Dragon” Wilson did it in Out For Blood with hilarious results. Michael “The Dude” Dudikoff did it for In Her Defense. And now you can add Jeff “The Guy In a Bunch of Action Movies You’ve Never Heard Of” Wincott to that illustrious list with a grim, gritty and greasy haired effort that eschews the cartoonish antics of the Dragon’s effort, but also manages to make as little sense as Wincott’s lawyer character John Ryan financing his pro bono work for Native Americans by using a loan shark.
Ryan is a kid from the streets who turned his life around and became a lawyer. And not just any lawyer. A lawyer who CARES. You know the type – bad haircut, ugly fringed jackets, rides a Harley, taking cases when people can’t pay, and reluctantly handling paying clients who are rich scum that beat up hookers. In short, the type of lawyer who after getting the rich guy off for abusing a hooker, sets it up so that she can beat up his client with a baseball bat!
It’s funny because just about everyone would say that would get a fella disbarred. And Street Law is the sort of realistic Wincott flick that that’s actually what happened! But Street Law is also the sort of unrealistic Wincott flick where that happened in about a day!
He also got charged criminally, his big shot lawyer boss had the charges dropped, evicted him from his apartment, cancelled his company credit cards, fired him from his job, got sued by the dude who got beat with the baseball bat, and finds out that his former law firm is representing the guy in the lawsuit against him! All in about a day, too!
There’s even worse news though. His friendly neighborhood loan shark is bullied into selling Ryan’s debt to the evil kingpin of crime named Calderone. The very Calderone who Ryan was best friends when they were younger! At least until they were involved in a robbery go wrong and Calderone got caught while Ryan got away and went to law school! Now, he’s back for vengeance and he will stop at nothing to destroy Ryan’s do-gooder lawyer life and force Ryan to participate in his capture-the-flag mixed martial arts fights at the local club!
I’ll admit that the movie keep me in suspense for the remainder of its run time. I kept wondering what sort of twisted justice Calderone really had planned for Ryan and what this weird capture the flag stuff was really just a cover for. Surely it was only a way to get Ryan in a spot where something awful would happen to him!
But guess what? The only thing that Calderone unleashed on Ryan (besides harassing him to fight and paying $10,000 a match for doing so!) was forcing Calderone’s girlfriend to have sex with Ryan! Damn you Calderone, but you are a evil bastard, trying to wear Ryan’s dingus out like that!
But wait, Calderone does have something diabolical up his sleeve! In fact, its every lawyer’s worst nightmare come horribly true! The guy that Ryan has to face in the climatic final bout? A former client! A former client named Blade who had to do 7 years for killing someone, all because Ryan couldn’t get him probation for a murder!
But the emotional stakes just got even higher because Blade killed Ryan’s street hustler kid he’s trying to mentor into a life that doesn’t involve crime or drugs! And all this right after Ryan gave the kid the good luck beads his Native American clients gave him at the beginning of the movie!
Unfortunately, as with another Damian Lee directed Wincott vehicle (Fatal Combat) the fights we get are shot at crappy angles and frequently abuses the use of slow motion which only call attention to Wincott’s greasy hairdo.
Once Lee lets the film run at its normal speed though, the final couple of minutes of the film are pretty good, first with the end of the fight against Blade and then the brawl with Calderone himself which starts in the club, crashes through a window onto a series of catwalks, falls off the catwalk onto a pile a trash and suddenly turns into waterfront fight where Wincott is brandishing pipes while Calderone is calling for a gun from his henchmen, which in turn causes Wincott to escalate things even further by going for his bow and arrow!
If only the whole movie was like the last battle, it would be easy to render a “guilty of being kick ass” verdict for Street Law. As it is though, the film is hampered by its pointless story (I still don’t understand what Calderone was trying to accomplish or even why Ryan wasn’t let go by his fancy law firm before any of this started since not only wasn’t he bringing in any money to the firm, he was having to borrow it from the mob to finance the cases he did have), as well as Damian Lee’s attempts to get fancy with the editing (why are you showing scenes from the middle of the movie at the beginning of the movie like you did in Fatal Combat? Why are you using this gunshot sound effect as a transition like you did with the static visual also in Fatal Combat?), the camerawork (I don’t want to watch a fight from beneath the fighter’s feet), and the overlong scene where Wincott is rolling around naked with Calderone’s girlfriend.
And is if to punctuate the random cruddiness of what went on, the movie ends with Ryan calling up the girlfriend and only getting her answering machine which prompts him to ride around on his motorcycle looking unfazed by everything that just transpired. Motion to dismiss yet another Jeff Wincott flick as forgettable nonsense that squanders its shredded stud and fails to properly showcase his fighting abilities… sustained!
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