Night of the Juggler (1980)

The title, “Night of the Juggler,” is a misnomer — most of “Night” takes place during the day, and the only things being juggled are a litany of clichés.

The setup: James Brolin is a trucker whose daughter is accidentally kidnapped by Cliff Gorman, who mistakes her for a rich kid he can use as ransom.

Cliché No. 1: Brolin is also an ex-cop, who uses that distinction to get away with destroying a good portion of New York City over the course of one day.

Cliché No. 2: Richard Castellano as a portly lieutenant caught in the middle of it all. His big distinction is that he solves police work while simultaneously juggling the planning of his kid’s wedding. (Side note: no, that does not make Castellano the juggler.)

Cliché No. 3: Dan Hedaya as an ill-tempered cop with a massive grudge against Brolin, a grudge that finds him cartoonishly losing his mind and blasting New York City storefronts with a shotgun as he aggressively pursues the man who once sold him out.

Cliché No. 4: Potentially racist stunt casting that reminds us that the seedy New York underbelly Woody Allen conveniently forgot to include in “Manhattan” is alive and well.

Cliché No. 5: The mandatory stop-off at a 42nd Street peep show, complete with fully nude exotic dancers, included in an attempt to give the movie’s R rating a little extra oomph.

Cliché No. 6: The obligatory, mano-a-mano final showdown between Brolin and Gorman in a dank, underground sewer system that is so poorly-lit you have a hard time figuring out what the hell is happening.

There are others, but I think my point is made. “Night of the Juggler” is nothing more than a cliché-riddled, feature-length chase sequence with some not-bad action and a whole lot of over-the-top bad acting. The movie pretends to make a statement about race and class relations, but the main thing I took from it is that it’s wholly acceptable to lay waste to an entire metropolitan city if it saves one teenage girl from the hands of a pervert.

Rated: R for raw language, violence and nudity

Director: Robert Butler

Starring: James Brolin, Cliff Gorman

★½ (out of ★★★★)


Categories: Uncategorized

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