Sharky's Machine (1981)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/26/15
Director: Burt Reynolds
Cast: Burt Reynolds, Bernie Casey, Richard Libertini, Rachel Ward, cameos by Suzee Pai, Dan Inosanto

A gritty crime drama about corruption and murder, and a demoted cop named Sharky (Burt Reynolds) who is trying to clean up the city. After a botched narcotics bust, Sharky is demoted to the vice division, where he starts investigating a high end prostitution ring. Dominoe (Rachel Ward) becomes a person of interest as she's linked to the mob and some powerful politicians. When Sharky gets too close, the mob pushes back hard and he barely escapes with his life. Driven more by anger and vengeance than justice, Sharky eventually gets his man with bittersweet results.

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie when it came out, and the highlight was an impressive stunt of a guy crashing through a window in a high-rise building and plummeting to the ground. Unfortunately, this is the film's sole money shot and is literally the second to last shot in the movie. Up until then, it's a plodding two hours of police procedure and surveillance, as Sharky voyeuristically spies on Dominoe and takes an unhealthy interest in her charms. It's very much a character driven film, and the characters are constantly exchanging witty dialog - to the point where you wish they would all shut up and start shooting instead. The acting and direction are solid, and the story maintains its grim tone throughout. It's just a shame that it's not more action oriented, and that the lovely Suzee Pai doesn't have more screen time.