More than Thirty years later, we are still getting films based on the characters created by James Cameron in this essential 1984 classic. This film is so influential on modern cinema and culture that it is the equivalent of an earthquake. The ground moved and the world took notice. This was a mostly unheralded film at the time. It was done on a relatively low budget, it’s star was not yet the household name that he would become, and it was the first real film directed by future “King of the World” James Cameron. This movie laid the groundwork for Cameron’s later career and creative freedom, but here he had to fight to keep control of the project and to try and get it the promotion that it deserved. It came in behind “Red Dawn” on the box office totals for 1984 and barely edged out “City Heat” to be the number 21 film that year with just over $38 million domestically. Modest financial beginnings but big creative ones.
Some movies need a story to carry them, some need a star, others require special effects artists to make the movie worthwhile. “Streets of Fire” doesn’t really have any of those things but it does have the vision and willpower of it’s Director, Walter Hill. After the success of “48 Hours” he was bankable, in demand, and he had a vision. His dream was a Rock and Roll fable that included all of those things a movie lover might like to see in a story, flash, neon, explosions, weird characters, gunplay and rain on the asphalt. This movie gives it to us in spades and never tries to be more important than it is.
This movie screams “1980s”. The bright colors, and wall to wall soundtrack along with the high concept are all indicators of the extravagances of of that decade. “Streets of Fire” is a license to geek out on the kinds of cinematic visuals and aural richness that make us love movies. It’s not a great film, but its a great film to watch.