Dangerously Close (1986)
Director: Albert Pyun
Starring: John Stockwell, Carey Lowell, Madison Mason, Bradford Bancroft & J. Eddie Peck
Released by: Olive Films
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
From Director Albert Pyun (Cyborg), Dangerously Close focuses on The Sentinels, the self-proclaimed teenage guardians of their high school. Weeding out those they deem unfit, their gang-like activity is questioned after a student winds up dead. When the school newspaper editor, Donny Lennox (J. Eddie Peck, The Young and the Restless), seeks the truth, The Sentinels up their aggressive ante to a whole new level. John Stockwell (Christine), Carey Lowell (Law & Order), Madison Mason (Dreamscape), Bradford Bancroft (3:15) and Dedee Pfeiffer (The Horror Show) co-star.
While, Cannon Films found their way into every niche genre imaginable during the 1980s, the teen crime film was far and few between for the low-budget titan. Marking only his third feature after The Sword and the Sorcerer and Radioactive Dreams, Director Albert Pyun makes his Cannon debut with a relatively grounded story about a gang of jocks who deliver “safety” and swift justice to fellow high school students they view as insignificant. In what would be perceived as the squarest club to be apart of, The Sentinels take their narc-like position very seriously and are constantly at odds with the burnouts and punks of their class who ridicule them for their Nazi-like behavior. On the surface, protecting the school from graffiti and theft appears noble but, when The Sentinels take unkindly to those who oppose them, over the top pranks turn into actual murder. Level-headed and intelligent school paper editor, Donny Lennox (Peck), is willing to better understand The Sentinels and is invited into their pack only to be at odds with his mohawk-toting best friend Krooger (Bancroft). Before long, Donny finds himself deep in the thicket of something sinister resulting in a full blown murder investigation and the disappearance of Krooger. Donny knows that he must get to the bottom of The Sentinels plans and uncover the truth before he’s next on the chopping block.
About as exploitative as an episode of 21 Jump Street, Dangerously Close manages to deliver earnest performances from its young cast but, lacks the juicier elements one expects from a production bearing the mark of Cannon. Meanwhile, horror enthusiasts will be delighted to catch minor appearances from Thom Mathews (The Return of the Living Dead), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning) and Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge). The inclusion of punkish characters and Krooger’s ridiculous Knight Rider-esque car make for fun eye candy although, the film suffers to find a stable footing midway through its runtime. As Donny teams up with Julie (Lowell), a fellow Sentinels girlfriend, to reveal the true culprit behind the shady doings at their high school, a hilarious albeit, played totally straight, battle incorporating paintball guns and firecrackers ensues. Bolstering a righteous 80s soundtrack including, hits from Robert Palmer, Fine Young Cannibals and The Smithereens, Dangerously Close isn’t quite the knockout one would hope but, still manages to be a decent Cannon foray centering on high school hooligans.
Olive Films presents Dangerously Close with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. To viewers‘ delight, this lower-budgeted affair shines in high-definition with natural skin tones and bold colors that pop most effectively. Detail is rather striking in closeups of The Sentinels painted faces during their “hunting” sequences while, black levels ring decently with slight murkiness appearing at times. Minimal flaking in its transfer aside, Dangerously Close delivers with a relatively clean and surprisingly rich looking presentation. Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, Dangerously Close relays dialogue with reasonable authority with some moments requiring a slight raise in volume. The 80s pop-rock soundtrack delivers with better authority while, the mix overall never suffers from any hiss or other audio distortion. Finally, the sole special feature included is the Theatrical Trailer (1:33).
With an enticing plot and a radical soundtrack, Dangerously Close forgets to entertain in its second half with uneventful sequences and a rather underwhelming finale. Released during a storm of rebellious teen flicks, Dangerously Close settles somewhere in the middle for a film that should have been much more under the shield of Cannon Films. Thankfully, Olive Films delivers with a wonderful transfer that should easily appease the most dedicated of Pyun fanboys. Scant on special features, worshippers of the church of Cannon won’t bat an eyelash adding this tale of teenage trouble into their high-definition libraries.