Three different teams of Hollywood Vice Squad officers work on three separate cases involving illegal betting run by the Mob, a sleazy BDSM porn director and a ruthless old gangster who runs a teenage prostitution ring. Officers Chang and Stevens work the streets busting hookers. Chang's favorite m.o. is turning into an exaggerated caricature of a stereotypical Asian tourist to gain the girls' trust and then bust them. Things take a serious turn when one of the girls turns out to be a dangerous man in drag who puts a knife to Chang's throat and forces him to take a ride with him, forcing Stevens to engage in hot pursuit. Officer Betty Melton is a rookie who wants to prove herself but her superiors, officers Chavez and Miller, won't let her. When she accidentally witnesses a sleazy backyard BDSM porn shoot involving what seems to be an underage actor, Betty turns to Captain Jensen in hopes of finally getting a case to investigate by herself, but Jensen orders Chavez and Miller to grow up and help her. Officer Daley and hulking officer Tank investigate a proud elderly African-American bookie named Jesse who takes illegal bets for a mobster called Luchessi. They need Jesse's cooperation to get Luchessi but can they guarantee Jesse's safety in return? Meanwhile, Pauline Stanton, a desperate mother who arrived in Hollywood to find her beautiful innocent runaway teenage daughter Lori, asks Jensen for help. His men suspect that the girl is alive and may be turning tricks for Walsh, a ruthless old gangster who seduces teenage girls with promise of fame and stardom only to turn them into his junkie prostitutes. Worse yet, once he has no more use for them they usually end up dead from "accidental" overdose. Jensen gives the case to his top undercover officers Hawkins and Judy. Hawkins pretends to be the new player in town with Judy as his main squeeze to get Walsh and his right hand man Farber to literally sell him Lori. After another hot pursuit involving a rampaging man on PCP who stole a bus full of passengers, Chang and Stevens join Hawkins as backup. However, Walsh also has a backup, his equally ruthless madam Veronica and psychotic shotgun-loving goon Daniello.
A mother goes to Hollywood to find her runaway daughter. The Vice Squad discovers that a dangerous gangster has turned the girl into one of his junkie teen prostitutes. The Squad also investigates illegal betting and a BDSM pornographer.
Without seeing this film and reading the plot outline, I can see that this is clearly a rip-off of Paul Schrader's classic film entitled, "Hardcore" starring George C. Scott from 1979. Check out this plot outline from Hardcore: "A conservative Midwest businessman ventures into the sordid underworld of pornography in California to look for his runaway teenage daughter whom is making porno films in the porno pits of Los Angeles. " Sound familiar?
What a rip off of the Scrhrader/Scott classic. It is funny to note and to Carrie Fisher's delight that there are a few references to Star Wars...watch and see, you won't believe your eyes. With this film, co-producer Sandy Howard is obviously mining some of the same material utilized for his earlier production "Vice Squad". It purports to fictionalize some of the true life exploits of the men and women who work for the title department. It's episodic, and tells a few stories.
Pauline Stanton (Trish Van Devere) comes to California to search for her runaway daughter Lori (Robin Wright, in her film debut), and is educated by the dedicated Captain Jensen (Ronny Cox) on the sleazy nature of the Hollywood underworld. Betty Melton (Carrie Fisher) is an eager young rookie detective determined to prove herself to grunting-pig colleagues, and gets wind of a porno operation that exploits underage actors. Hawkins (Leon Isaac Kennedy) and his partner Judy (super sexy Cec Verrell) attempt to take down prostitution kingpin Walsh (Frank Gorshin), eventually assisted by Chang (Evan C. Kim) and Stevens (Joey Travolta). And Tank (H.B. Haggerty) and Daley (Ben Frank) try to look out for small time bookie Jesse (Julius Harris) who's being hassled by mobster Luchessi (Robert Miano).
Ably directed by Penelope Spheeris, the movie is hurt at times by detours into silly comedy that don't really add anything. Besides, the movie isn't quite melodramatic, ugly or trashy enough to need any sort of relief. It's still reasonably sleazy, and tells its stories in entertaining fashion. Some viewers might feel that it's a tad overlong, but it managed to hold this viewers' attention for over an hour and 41 minutes. The look for the movie is just right, and the soundtrack features some cool tunes.
The very good cast is the glue that holds it together, with Fisher a standout as the ambitious, hard-driving young woman who is willing to deviate from the "book" in order to get her man. The fine ensemble of character actors also includes Marvin Kaplan, Beau Starr, Tom Everett, Eloy Casados, and Phil Rubenstein.
As was said, this actually might not be hardcore enough for some tastes, but it's a pleasingly diverting exploitation picture just the same.
Seven out of 10. 646f9e108c
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