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Movie Reviews : 'Cold Steel' Is Level With Its Temperature

December 16, 1987|LEONARD KLADY

The hard truth about "Cold Steel" (citywide)--a cop-versus-killer yarn--is that it's just plain boring. This by-the-books thriller is inane, implausible and unbelievable, even if it's not inept. The film makers, perhaps in an effort not to echo conventions of the police genre, camouflage the obvious with inappropriate non sequiturs and painfully forced humor.

LAPD Detective Johnny Modine's (Brad Davis) Christmas starts on a sour note when the telephone rings and the voice on the other end informs him that his jeweler father has been brutally murdered. Defying standard police procedure, Johnny is put on the case but is soon removed and told by his superior to "go find a woman and have a good time."

Faster than you can say "what's a classy broad doin' in a place like this?"--and they do--Johnny meets Kathy (Sharon Stone). Unfortunately, it's all too apparent that it's not kismet but a carefully orchestrated chance meeting. Kathy is setting Johnny up for a fatal rendezvous with Iceman (Jonathan Banks), the knife-wielding maniac with the mechanical voice-box who killed Johnny's father. Iceman, his former academy crony, blames the cop for his present tonal condition and descent into drug addiction.

The quirkiness of "Cold Steel's" plot (MPAA-rated R, for language and graphic violence) is in no way reflected in the film's production values. Elaborate stunts lack excitement and credibility and, judging from the camera work, the producers apparently forgot to budget for lighting equipment.

First-time director Dorothy Puzo (Mario's daughter) demonstrates a talent that's easy to refuse. Still, it's safe to say that she's filmed the first-ever murder inflicted by force-feeding a victim tropical fish. Not exactly a horse's head, but what the heck.

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