The movie is written by Stirling Silliphant, co-stars Rod Steiger and has the word heat in the title--but, unfortunately, it isn't "In the Heat of the Night." We're two decades away from that cop drama, and the one we're discussing, "Catch the Heat" (citywide) is only too reflective of the hard-edged, soft-minded '80s.
Steiger is no longer playing an ambivalent Southern cop against Sidney Poitier. Here, he's dead-eyed drug czar Jason Hannibal, matched up against--hold your breath--an undercover Chinese-Jewish kung-fu cutie named Checkers Goldberg. Don't expel your breath yet: Checkers, who has tracked Hannibal to his Buenos Aires drug lair, is disguised as exotic Hong Kong dancer Cinderella Poo, and eventually she cracks Hannibal's diabolical scheme: smuggling out heroin--cut with silicone?--in breast implants.
Is there any hope for a movie with a plot like that, beyond major surgery? Silliphant's dialogue has snappier rhythms than most work on this level, but director Joel Silberg, hitherto a specialist in break-dancing and rap musicals, takes far too genial a tone. If you walk into a party wearing a polka-dotted barrel, with a cucumber sprouting from your nose--the equivalent of making a movie like this--you better be prepared to go all out.