Although this vigilante drama makes a wan effort to distinguish itself with a certain cynical, streetwise morality, in the end “Street Corner Justice” is just another generic actioner destined for the street corner video store. Lack of star power or other marketable elements will also likely limit rental potential.
Mike “Street” Justus (Marc Singer) is a “Dirty Harry”-style renegade cop with a heart of gold and a short fuse when it comes to bad guys. Ousted from the Pittsburgh force, Justus moves to a crime-ridden L.A. suburb where he reluctantly comes to the aid of some local merchants who are being terrorized by gangs. Among them is Jenny (Kim Lankford), a vid store owner who immediately cottons to Justus.
When some gangsters brutally ambush the group’s neighborhood watch patrol, Justus springs into action, forming a posse with some ex-cons who “owe him” and hitting back at the baddies. From there, the violence escalates predictably to an inevitable showdown that isn’t particularly satisfying.
While mildly entertaining at times, pic will probably leave action buffs feeling shortchanged, since the fight scenes are long in coming and brief in duration. The tepid romance only serves to slow things down further: Lankford is so cloying as Jenny that one can’t help but hope Justus dumps her for the much more appealing Willie Gee (Beverly Leech), a feisty hooker who aids him in his vigilante campaign.
Also off-putting is the film’s opening sequence, a grisly torture-rape that may send fainthearted viewers scrambling for the remote. The scene is particularly ill-conceived since the rest of the film is generally low on gore and entirely devoid of sex.
The camerawork is slightly above average for the genre; the meandering score does nothing to reinforce what little drama there is.