The main things being juggled in “Night of the Juggler” are a litany of clichés.
The setup: James Brolin is a trucker whose daughter is accidentally kidnapped by the vicious Cliff Gorman, who mistakes her for a rich kid he intends to use for 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 a 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 own 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 left out of “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 pic aims 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.
“NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER”
Rated: R for raw language, violence and nudity
Director: Robert Butler
Starring: James Brolin, Cliff Gorman
★½ (out of ★★★★)