A Movie A Day #231: Judgment Night (1993, directed by Stephen Hopkins)


Four suburbanites (Emilio Estevez, Stephen Dorff, Jeremy Piven, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.) are driving to a boxing match in pricey RV when Piven takes a wrong turn and they end up lost in the wrong side of the city.  Not only are they lost but they also witness Fallon (Denis Leary) and his gang murdering a young man.  Jeremy Piven thinks that he can negotiate with Fallon and get his friends out of the situation by pulling out his wallet and flashing a few bills.  Guess how well that works out for them?  With Fallon chasing them through the city, these formerly smug and complacent yuppies are forced into a battle for survival.

Judgment Night is a deeply stupid but compulsively watchable movie.  From the minute that Piven shows up with that RV and Estevez says goodbye to his wife and newborn child, it is obvious what’s going to happen.  Fortunately, the cast is better than average and Stephen Hopkins does a good job of making the city look menacing and keeping up the pace.  There are a few times that Judgment Night pretends like it has something to say about wealth and society but it never tries too hard to be anything more than an exciting B-movie.  Though it may not have been hard to do considering that his main competition was Emilio Estevez, Denis Leary easily dominates Judgment Night.  Fallon may be a cartoon villain but Judgment Night is a cartoonish movie so it works.

Today, Judgment Night is best remembered for its soundtrack, on which nearly every song was a collaboration between hip hop and metal artists.  The Judgment Night soundtrack may not have invented the genre of rap rock but it was many people’s first exposure to it.  The Teenage Fan Club/De La Soul collaboration Fallin‘ opens the movie on just the right note while Biohazard and Onyx’s Judgment Night is such a strong track that there’s no way the rest of the movie can hope to live up to it.

Judgment Night.  The movie is ok.  The soundtrack is fucking amazing.

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