Vice Squad | Chicago Reader

Vice Squad

Rated R 97 minutes

Gary Sherman's low-budget thriller (1982) proved there was a lot of life left in the exploitation film. Though slightly marred by some sentimental gestures toward the hooker played by Season Hubley, it's a tight, tough, and colorful picture that plays imaginatively with genre conventions and really delivers the juice. The action is compressed to one long night in LA, with a gang of economically characterized cops trying to track down an enraged pimp (Wings Hauser, playing in the Richard Widmark Kiss of Death tradition of the pretty-boy psycho) before he can kill the prostitute who set him up. Sherman achieves a cynical film noir flavor without copying his sources too closely (though the obligatory Sam Fuller homage is there). The moral distinctions between heroes and villains are cleanly erased, leaving only victims and victimizers.

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