Post by jno on Jun 6, 2018 9:01:01 GMT
Well thanks yet again to the kind folks in the Cornish Film Archive (CFA) I was able to give this one a watch recently.
The story - well, this is a pretty weird film I thought, it is essentially about two rival gangsters, the old school Frank (Ray McAnally) and the up and coming apprentice wide boy Paul (Ian Sears - Lipton from 'Johnny Jarvis') and how they want to own a bit of the action in London in 1987. That said, it takes a very very long time for the plot to unravel and there are some very weird things going on until we work out what the main theme of this film is all about. To be fair, based on only the first 5 minutes I was starting to think this was some sort of sci-fi story, but I was wrong.
Until we reach the point where we know what is going on i.e. turf/power war there are a lot of sub-plots going on. Keeping up with how these different stories might actually all fit together is a bit of struggle to begin with. There is clearly a rent-boy story plot in this film, where business execs are quite happy to pay to a quick five minutes in the car. Then, all of a sudden Martin Landau turns up as an wealthy American looking to buy up half of London's docklands. 'Martin Landau?!?' I thought, 'What on earth is he doing in this?' - well, watch and you'll find out - he's not a particularly honest fellow in this.
Then the action switches to a girl in a typing pool, a lonely soul looking for date and an arguing couple desperate on making a few quid, a boxing champion, a newspaper reporter, a jealous boyfriend with a shooter and a weirdo placing ads in newspapers looking for female company. Then we have a young Geordie lad down in the big smoke looking for his friend called Mick. 'What is going on?' thought I - too many sub-plots to start with and I had difficultly coming up with who has any sort of lead role in this film. That said, I was inspired enough to keep watching.
Now the film is called 'Empire State' and where these unrelated plots all meet is around 1 hour 17 minutes in (to a 1 hour 32 minute film!) when we realise the common theme here is that all of these people either visit or have something to do with the 'Empire State' club, run by Ray McAnally's character Frank. This is a seedy docklands no-questions-asked club where absolutely ANYTHING goes and it is here that the everything comes together and all the loose ends in this film finally meet with about 10 minutes to go. If you like a film with logical path or defined set of stages, this film is definitely won't provide it.
Then we have Gary 'one line' Webster, who has very little to do other than to stand around and look hard. He plays one of Ian Sears' hardmen Minder types - you'll notice in the pictures he looks a lot like Ray Daley, albeit with the top half of his mop dyed blonde in true 1980s style. Other than the famous boats mentioned already, there is also Perry Fenwick who apart from being known as Esatenders' Billy Mitchell, appears in Minder's 'On The Autofront' - he plays a weedy bouncer type in this which is a nothing to write home about performance.
This film is a superb one for spotting extras - notice in the bottom right picture you'll see a certain Harry Fielder, then we have frequent Minder boats Terence Plummer, there is Eric Kent and look even closer at the bottom left picture behind Gary Webster's ear and you will see the till now unknown female boat race with blonde hair that often frequents the Ray Daley years' Winchester Club.
6/10 - No spoilers here, no oscars either, this is a essentially a gangster-type film that slow cooks with multiple plots but how this film ends i.e. the last 5 minutes is probably the best part of it, and suddenly the sci-fi-esque first 5 minutes all seems to make a lot more sense. When shots start flying and the pond-life in this film start showing their true colours this actually ends quite well I thought. It just takes a looooong time getting there and there is possibly way too much padding in this. Ray McAnally is the best thing about this film - if you've seen him in 'Spindoe' this is him back again pretty much doing the same character in 80s yuppie land, giving 'em agg as a gangster type. It's not a bad film, it just a very long time to get going, there are a few C-bombs dropped in, but the highlight for the male eye is undoubtedly Elizabeth Hickling and her swimsuit.
IMDB link: www.imdb.com/title/tt0092964/
DVD/BluRay on Amazon UK: amzn.to/2JniPsm
Another review here: www.philonfilm.net/2011/03/blu-ray-review-empire-state.html