The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Badge of the Assassin (1985)

  • James Woods
  • Yaphet Kotto
  • Alex Rocco
TV movies are a touchy thing. They're shared between cable and prime-time. Cable movies have the same kind of material as theatrical releases. It's also common that they star established actors. However, prime-time movies have moralistic centers (most of the time), are mostly acted by unknown to modestly popular actors. Therefore, their quality is usually inferior. However, Badge of the Assassin breaks those rules. It has an excellent cast and is worth watching, for one.

The movie starts very badly. 3 black men with huge Afros wait on a car. Two cops come by and the men shoot them. They run away, using true blaxpoitation slang, and go back home to their apartment. To tell you I was confused would be an understatement. I thought this movie was supposed to be pro-black and anti-racist. Yet here they are depicting blacks as animals.

Thank God James Woods is here, however. Woods plays Robert Tanenbaum, the Assistant District Attorney of the City of New York. Tanenbaum is assigned to the task of finding the culprits of the crime. His partner, played by Yaphet Kotto, serves not only as the undercover `brother' but as Tanenbaum's right hand man.

Badge Of The Assassin's script is refreshingly realistic. There's barely any action (violence) but the movie stays tension-filled, thanks to Woods' nervous performance. The story speeds along nicely and the whole thing is very enjoyable. Woods, as I said, is very good. The underrated Yaphet Kotto also delivers a powerful performance. Rae Dawn Chong and Pam Grier show up in small roles as the girlfriends of the accused. The cast is solid, in all.

One thing that bothered me was the R rating. This doesn't deserve an R rating. There's some dark, non-bloody violence, half-a-dozen casual swears and one racial slur. This deserves a PG-13 rating. Because of the R rating I was expecting a violent cop movie, but instead I got an intelligent cop suspense.

Obviously, it'll be hard to find this movie in a video store because of its general fall into oblivion. However, if you see it on the shelf, then grab it, you won't be sorry. 7.5/10