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‘Street Knight’ (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 15, 1993

"Street Knight" could just as well be titled "Sleep Tight," except for its annoyingly loud soundtrack, featuring excessive shooting and expressive punching, as well as one of the worst synthesizer scores this side of a 900 line. Part of a probably hopeless campaign aimed at turning Jeff ("The Perfect Weapon") Speakman into a martial arts-action film superstar, "Street Knight" never gets out of the starting gate, which is blocked by a ludicrous script looking to capitalize on Los Angeles gang violence.

Speakman plays ex-cop Jake Barett, doing penance in a barrio auto body shop after an innocent girl loses her life because of his screw-up. The Latin Lords and the Blades (Hispanic and African American gangs drawn from the Central Casting Gang) are enjoying a shaky truce when some members of each group are murdered, apparently by their rivals. In truth, they're being done in by a band of killer Caucasians, ex-cops who clearly spent too much time in the prison weight room while doing time for corruption. Good cop, bad ex-cops, honorable gangbangers -- yes, it's Cliche City.

Barett is asked to search for a missing witness to the gory massacre that sets the plot into motion. His client, the witness's sister, is played by Jennifer Gatti, who looks as though she stepped off a Clairol label. She entices our hero into action -- which consists mostly of his asking everyone questions in a voice with the dynamics of a flat line.

In fact, Speakman spends more time striking GQ poses than his opponents, and the fights themselves are not particularly exciting. Speakman's karate comes across as little more than a violent version of patty-cake (applied to the body and head, of course).

As for the gang subplot, it's more convincingly played out everyday in rap videos. Here, you keep waiting for Michael Jackson to sing "Beat It." Actually, the most menacing figures are those ex-cops, led by Christopher Neame. They're more interesting than Speakman, but they come to no good end all too soon. Unlike the movie.

"Street Knight" is rated R and contains some graphic violence.

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