The only novelty of “Boulevard,” an otherwise B-grade suspense thriller, written by actress Rae Dawn Chong and directed by Penelope Buitenhuis, is that it takes a distinctly female p.o.v. Focus on women, however, proves superficial and phony, though spectacular, violent scenes, in a sleazy setting populated by pimps and hookers, might prove titillating enough to lure the undemanding video crowd.
Escaping from an abusive husband, Jennefer (Kari Wuhrer) is forced to give up her baby for adoption and fend for herself in the big city. But it’s her good fortune to meet Ola (Chong), a street-smart prostie who gives her shelter in her apartment and makes an effort to shield her from the clutches of Hassan (Lou Diamond Phillips), a murderous pimp who controls the neighborhood.
When Ola witnesses the brutal murder of a young hooker by Hassan and refuses to testify, she is interrogated by tough cop McClaren (Lance Henriksen), who then deports her. All alone, Jennefer succumbs to prostitution, falling victim to Hassan’s manipulation. In the bloody climax, however, the now tough and invigorated femme gathers enough power to confront her vengeful husband.
The material is routine, particularly the raw, borderline-primitive dialogue, but helmer Buitenhuis shows some proficiency at conveying visually the dynamics of street life. “Boulevard” suggests the importance of female camaraderie, but ultimately the violence against women is so excessive and exploitational that it’s shocking to realize pic was written and directed by women.
Chong and Phillips, two attractive performers who have done good work in the past, are wasting their talents in this suspenser. Tech credits aptly summon up the necessary trashy atmosphere.