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MUSIC REVIEWS : 'Three Kinds of Heat'--but Not One Spark

December 08, 1987|LEONARD KLADY

"Three Kinds of Heat" (citywide) is three kinds of movie--bad, bad, bad.

It would take considerable kindness and the ability to turn two blind eyes and two deaf ears to uncover something positive to say about this cops-and-druggers saga. One can't even pass off the overall ineptness of the endeavor to inexperience. Producer-director Leslie Stevens was, after all, the guiding force behind the vintage television anthology "The Outer Limits" and such innovative '60s low-budget features as "Private Property" and "Hero's Island."

The plot is simple, familiar and uninspired. A State Department agent named Elliot Cromwell (Robert Ginty) is on a stakeout of J.F.K. Airport when automatic weapons fire explodes between international drug smugglers from rival gangs. Airport cop Terry O'Shea (Victoria Barrett) joins the fracas, as does a Maj. Shan (Shakati) from the Hong Kong police. Naturally, if illogically, Interpol pulls some strings and the three kinds of crime busters are assigned to crack the case.

Before the final fireworks in a fireworks factory: Cromwell is removed from the case by his superiors; romance blossoms between him and O'Shea; the smugglers' Interpol mole is unmasked, and the secret identity of the drug czar is revealed. It sounds much better on paper than what's on the screen. Played straight, the film might have been bearable. But the campy, tongue-in-cheek attitude of the script and performances are unerringly misplaced.

Technically this ultra low-budget effort can't even compete in an amateur movie-making contest. The camera work is dull, the lighting harsh and the color garish. The rough spots in the script are accentuated by editing accomplished with the finesse of a butcher's knife.

"Three Kinds of Heat" (MPAA-rated R: for violence and language) is deficient on any artistic thermometer. The film hovers in the area of less than zero, raising only ire and eyebrows.

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