Written by: Carroll Jenkins on May 10th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, February 25th, 1999
Director: David L. Corley
Writer: David L. Corley
Cast: James Belushi, Sheryl Lee, Kyle Chandler, Frank John Hughes, Ned Bellamy
DVD released: January 25th, 2000
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: York Home Video
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: OOP
Synopsis: A sudden vacancy in the role of “family enforcer” prompts a gang boss to send a prospective replacement for training under the tutelage of master hit man “the Rose”. A subject is chosen at random for ‘target practice’, and the school of hard knocks begins.
It seems obvious stars James Belushi, Sheryl Lee, and writer / director David Corley thought this would be their breakthrough project. Corley’s script is to the gangster film what Cemetery Man is to the zombie film. On the face it’s about gangsters and hit men, but it delves into introspection on sanity, morality, life and death. It contains quirky characters, absurd twists, role reversals, morbid black humor, action and suspense. The camera work is excellent throughout, as is the pacing and art direction. This was Corley’s second and last directorial effort; apparently failure to secure theatrical distribution caused him to jettison his career.
The film revolves around three main characters. Jim Belushi is brilliant as the Zen spouting mentor hit man who is completely at peace with his chosen profession. His comic timing is impeccable. Sheryl Lee is astounding in a role that transforms her from a mousy flake who can’t cope with reality into a self-sufficient, self-realized, sexy, and formidable woman. Kyle Chandler is the catalyst of the story and plays the doltish gangster. The film is peppered with memorable supporting characters, including Jon Polito as the mob boss who starts the ball rolling.
The region 1 DVD is full-frame with Spanish subtitles and cropped on the sides. Despite the grain some of the visuals are nevertheless stunning. There was also a region 2 PAL release. Both are out of print.
Get Shorty was a tongue in cheek gangster tale; Angel’s Dance plays it straight but hard on the twist. Criminally overlooked and obscure, see this one if you can.