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I don't see any angels in the city
I don't hear any holy choirs sing
And if I can't get an angel
I can still get a boy
And a boy'd be the next best thing
The next best thing to an angel...
A boy'd be the next best thing.
Ellen Aim, lead singer of the Attackers, is kidnapped by a gang of bikers known as The Bombers. One of the people in the audience, Reva Cody, sends a telegram to her brother Tom, a war veteran - and Ellen's ex-boyfriend - asking him to return to "the Richmond", a district in the city. Tom Cody and the ex-soldier McCoy are hired by Ellen's manager and boyfriend, Billy Fish to rescue Ellen. The three of them search for Ellen, to rescue her from the Bombers, only for Tom to find that he has feelings for Ellen that need to be reconciled.
From Walter Hill, the director of The Warriors and Forty Eight Hours, Streets of Fire is a 1984 film, described as a "Rock'n'Roll Fable". Its setting is a kind of Alternate Universe, a mix of an over-the-top 50s and a dystopian near-future as seen from the 80s; a card in the opening title sequence tells us it's set in "another time, another place." The charm of this film lies in its darkly beautiful shots with lots of shadow and smoke and piercing colors, the comic-book style storytelling, and fantastic music, and it is especially popular in Japan, despite having no initial success, commercially or critically. Notably, Bubblegum Crisis and Final Fight were influenced by this film.
Streets of Fire was intended to be the first in a projected trilogy of action films called "The Adventures of Tom Cody" with Hill tentatively titling the two sequels, The Far City and Cody's Return. However, the film's eventual failure at the box office put an end to the project.
The song "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young", which plays in the ending scene and over the credits (and whose title also appeared as the tagline for the film) was later adapted into "Der Tanz der Vampire" ("The Dance of the Vampires") in the German-language stage musical Tanz der Vampire.
A Sequel, produced by Albert Pyun, exists, entitled Road to Hell. Although it was officailly released in 2012, some sources (including That Other Wiki date it to 2008 because of an early screening of a work print. Michael Pare and Deborah Van Valkenburgh reprise their roles from the original film. The website for the sequel can be found here and its trope page can be found here.
No relation to the song from the Initial D soundtrack.
This film provides examples of the following:
- Action Film Quiet Drama Scene: Ellen's reconciliation with Tom.
- Action Girl: McCoy. The role was written as male. Amy Madigan just happened to give an awesome audition.
- Action Prologue
- Anti-Hero: Tom Cody.
- Ascended Fangirl: One of Ellen's fans decides to tag along with the group, even giving them crucial information about the police patrols. Then Tom Cody kicks her out.
- Author Appeal: Part of the reason this was made was because the director wanted to make a movie with the things he thought were cool while he was growing up; "custom cars, kissing in the rain, neon, trains in the night, high-speed pursuit, rumbles, rock stars, motorcycles, jokes in tough situations, leather jackets and questions of honor".
- Badass: Where to start. Tom Cody, McCoy, Raven, Officer Price, Greer and most of the rest of the Bombers. Hell even Ed Begley Jr. played a Badass homeless guy. Even Billy Fish, the Non-Action Guy (played by Rick Moranis, no less), has a lot of guts.
- Badass Biker: Raven and the Bombers, obviously. The Roadmasters think they're this. They're not.
- Badass Longcoat: Tom Cody.
- Bad Guy Bar: "Torchie's", an abandoned factory with an upstairs/back rooms apparently for Bad Guys' use.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: McCoy and Ellen aren't hurt at all, while the men get the snot beat out of them.
- Big Bad: Raven Shaddock.
- Big Bad Wannabe: The Roadmasters, a gang of wannabe thugs who're dispatched during the opening credits.
- Bittersweet Ending: Cody pulls himself together and saves the city, but leaves Ellen, feeling the best thing to do for her is to let her go.
- Blade Lock: In the fight scene at the end, Cody and Raven do this with sledgehammers.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Tons of it.
- The Chanteuse: Ellen Aim, who's played by Diane Lane.
- Cherry Tapping: After beating each other up with sledgehammers and fists, Cody finishes Raven by pushing him over. It's a bit of an act of mercy, since Raven was basically out on his feet.
- City of Adventure
- City with No Name: Although "the Richmond" and other districts were named, the overall city was simply "another time, another place."
- The Coats Are Off: Cody does this in the opening Diner Brawl, revealing a sleeveless shirt beneath that duster. Both he and Raven do this before the sledgehammer street fight as well.
- Combat Pragmatist: Both Tom and Raven.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Ellen is furious that Tom went to save her for money.
- Cool Big Sis: Reva Cody.
- Cool Car: "I just picked it up today."
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Billy Fish.
- Cut Song: "Streets of Fire".
- Damsel in Distress: Ellen Aim.
- The Dandy: Billy Fish.
- Deconstructed Trope: The Distressed Damsel plot. Cody's doing it for money, and Ellen is rescued about halfway through, the problem then becomes keeping her safe. It also touches on this when Ellen talks with the fangirl, admitting that she doesn't write her songs.
- Did Not Get the Girl: More like 'Didn't Want The Girl'; Tom loved her, and Billy even offered to stand down, but Cody wasn't the kind of man to be a groupie. He does drive off with the girl sidekick, though she keeps protesting that he's "not her type."
- Diner Brawl: We're introduced to Cody through one of these, where he defends his sister from some rowdy diner patrons.
- Do Wrong Right: The police chief gives Cody permission to fight Raven after his plan to resolve it peacefully fails.
- The Dragon: Greer, Raven's second-in-command. The one who punches out Billy Fish. Played by Lee Ving, the former lead singer of the punk band Fear.
- Drop the Hammer: The sledgehammer duel between Tom Cody and Raven.
- The Eighties
- Fake Band: Ellen Aim and the Attackers, and the Sorels. The band playing at Torchy's? Those were the Blasters, a real Badass rockabilly group.
- Fan Sequel: As mentioned above, a fan sequel is being produced.
- Foreshadowing: I Can Dream About You foreshadows that Tom won't go with Ellen.
- Gender Flip: The original screenplay imagined McCoy as a male; Amy Madigan convinced them to have the character be female without rewriting the part.
- Genre Shift
- Good Old Fisticuffs: How the sledgehammer duel ends up.
- Hell-Bent for Leather
- Hollywood Night: Some of the film was shot on the backlot of Universal Studios in California on two large, elaborate sets covered in a tarp 1,240 feet long by 220 feet wide so that night scenes could be filmed during the day.
- Honor Before Reason: Officer Price tries his best to uphold the law by the book, which means he can't go after Ellen as it's outside his jurisdiction.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: McCoy has shades of this, though it could stem from the villains being unwilling to hit a girl.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Raven tries to put the moves on Ellen, and this is essentially why he kidnapped her in the first place.
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Billy Fish is Ellen Aim's boyfriend as well as her manager, but he recognizes that Tom is Ellen's True Love and offers to stand aside. For his part, Tom doesn't want to take Ellen's music away from her (his original complaint was that he didn't like "coming in second to her music", but she proves willing to leave it all behind for him), and realizes that the best thing he can do for her is let her go.
- I Lied: Raven lies to the police about bringing only two guys to the showdown.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Tom Cody. Saves his ex for money, kicks out her fangirl, and generally makes everyone dislike him...and then he lets Fish keep the money, reconciles with Ellen, and saves the town from the bikers.
- Arguably, Billy Fish. For all his whining and complaining, he rides right into Hell for Ellen along with everyone else, not to mention charging out into the fight onstage in the opening scene and trying to face down Raven just before the sledgehammer fight (he's pathetically ineffective both times, but still. Whatever else you can call him, he's no Dirty Coward). Also, despite his petty greed, he agrees to not one, but two benefits in Ellen's old neighborhood (with notably less complaining the second time). See also: I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
- Jim Steinman: Wrote the music for Ellen Aim and the Attackers. As if you couldn't tell.
- Keep the Reward: Cody takes the 10 percent that he promised McCoy and lets Billy Fish keep the rest.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Raven does this to Cody during their fight. Cody also kicks back.
- The Ladette: McCoy! She's a foul-mouthed, hard drinking, fast car driving, ass kicker of a woman who as a former soldier must certainly have been The Squadette.
- Made of Explodium: Cody dispatches Raven's gang's motorcycles with a single shot each. Whoomph-flash-boom.
- Meaningful Name: The biker bar Torchie's. Everything around the place blows up real good.
- Ellen Aim: "The things they say and the things they do / Nothing's gonna stop us if our aim is true".
- Missing Trailer Scene: The trailer had Ellen saying "You gonna stay for the show? It's really good," and a different take of Raven saying "I want Tom Cody!'; the latter is notable as it appeared to be in his hideout that, in the film, was burnt down.
- Money, Dear Boy: Cody goes to save Ellen for money, not love.
- Mood Whiplash: After scenes of typical action movie fare with Bloodless Carnage comes the raw, brutal sledgehammer fight, with blood.
- Motor Mouth:
- Billy Fish, especially when agitated.
- Also Baby Doll, Ellen's fangirl.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Tom seems to have this realization after everyone is alienated from him, and soon starts to set things right.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: It's a Musical/Action/Comic Book movie.
- No Name Given: Ellen's fan, who's called "Baby Doll" in the script.
- Non-Action Guy: Billy Fish, who nevertheless has balls made of pure brass and who doesn't let something like the knowledge he's about to get his ass kicked stop him.
- Not So Stoic: The one time Cody really panics is when the Sorels' bus catches on fire and they can't cool it off.
- Notable Original Music
- One-Liner: Much of the dialogue is this.
- Out-Gambitted: The police chief tries to get Cody and Ellen out of town while he arrests Raven. He didn't expect Raven to have an army of bikers at the ready. Good thing Cody returned when he did.
- Pet the Dog: Billy and Cody finally exchange friendly words at the film's end, finally making amends.
- Playing Against Type: Rick Moranis as Billy Fish, Ellen's surly, obnoxious manager.
- Police Are Useless: Well it is Gangsterland, after all. There are only two main cops that we see, and one of them is the Chief of Police. Two other patrolmen are bought off.
- Popcultural Osmosis
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Cody, McCoy, and Billy fit this trope well enough, but it really heads into this territory when they pick up Baby Doll, a fan of Ellen's, and the Sorels, a band, on the way back from the Battery.
- Recycled Soundtrack: The "Godspeed!" section of Nowhere Fast was lifted from the title track of Jim Steinman's solo album, Bad For Good, and the opening piano riff was recycled for the Meat Loaf song Everything Louder Than Everything Else. And as mentioned above, Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young was re-arranged to become the title track of Tanz der Vampire.
- Retro Universe: The setting is best described as being in Rock n' Roll land with minimal racial tensions, '50s-ish fashion sense, and '80s-ish urban decay. The intro card simply reads, "Another Time, Another Place".
- Rule of Cool: Did we mention the duel between Tom Cody and Raven? With sledgehammers!
- Running Gag: Cody and company repeatedly ditching and procuring the same car.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The police chief tries to get Cody and Ellen to leave the city to avert a final showdown. Cody--though unwillingly--gets Ellen away, but heads back to take care of the Bombers.
- Shout-Out: The intro song of this film, Nowhere Fast, is replicated in the first episode of Bubblegum Crisis almost verbatim. Also, several of the characters have similar names.
- Also, the songs Angel & Devil's Kiss and VICTORY are basically straight rips of the opening number, too. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
- The cover art for Act II: The Father of Death, by The Protomen, is directly inspired by the movie poster.
- And the track Light up the Night is incredibly similar to Nowhere Fast.
- Cody's clothes and haircut make him look suspiciously like Mal Reynolds' ancestor...
- Not to mention the ever-present Winchesters.
- Then there's the Badass Biker named Raven
- The Smurfette Principle: Ellen Aim and the Attackers.
- Spiritual Successor: To director Hill's own film The Warriors.
- In many ways, Sin City is a spiritual successor to Streets of Fire.
- Spontaneous Crowd Formation: Raven summons about 200 bikers out of nowhere to face down the police. A bit later, a bunch of citizens with guns show up to stare them down. They then proceed to do nothing until Tom beats Raven in a street fight, at which point the guys with guns chase off the bikers.
- The Squadette: McCoy, who else.
- Starter Villain: The Roadmasters.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Cody, McCoy, and Billy spend as much time arguing as they do rescuing Ellen.
- Trapped Behind Enemy Lines
- Vice City
- Wasted Song: "Never Be You" appears in-film very briefly.
- What Could Have Been: The second draft of the screenplay has two different songs, more dialogue and backstory supplied by Reva Cody, and a different sledgehammer fight.
- Would Hit a Girl: Tom punches Ellen across the face and knocks her out.
- Out of necessity, of course. He needed her to stop fussing so he could focus on the matter at hand.
- Wretched Hive
- X Meets Y: This movie has been described as The Warriors meets Escape from New York with lots of music. Not that there's anything wrong with that.