Blu-ray Review: Jake Speed (1986)

December 4, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Margaret (Karen Kopins) is feelin’ the ol’ pangs of guilt as she convinced her younger sister Maureen (Becca C. Ashley) to see the world… which resulted in her being abducted while in Paris by a white slavery ring.

While some of the family makes Margie feel like a ten pound lump of shit in a two pound sack about the whole affair, her grandfather (Leon Ames) has an idea surely brought upon by a raging case of Alzheimer’s: get Jake Speed (Wayne Crawford) on the case right quick… which would be a great plan if Jake existed in the real world instead of in the pulp-adventure novels that bear his name.

Well guess what? Fuckin’ Jake Speed does exist, and before you can say Remo Williams, our heroine meets the main man in a Paris bar along with Speed’s guy Friday Desmond Floyd (Dennis Christopher)… where Margaret learns the novels are based on their lives… and cases like her’s make for the best new novels.

Soon Jake, Des, and Maggs are down Africa way and hot on Maureen’s trail… a trail that finds them caught between a violent civil war and the machinations of Jake’s archenemy; the white slavin’ son of a bitch Englishman, Sid (a scene stealing… and scenery chewing John Hurt). Will Jake have the stones to deliver his pals from the clutches of evil and save the day? We’ll find out when we read his next novel I guess!

Jake Speed has a fun conceit at it’s core; the idea that the greatest pulp and ‘men’s adventure’ novel characters are all real, live in the same universe, and get grist for their continuing print exploits by doing good deeds… the more dangerous the better! That is one hell of a great premise, and the film utilizes it to great effect (though it could have done more with it… see below), which results in an enjoyable picture.

Speaking of enjoyable, actor Wayne Crawford (who also co-wrote the film along with director Andrew Lane) makes for a great “everyman” style lead that strives to live up to his legend while making it through whatever peril he finds himself in by the skin of his teeth! Add to that the aforementioned comic book style high-camp villain turn by Hurt, and great “Dr. Watson” bit by Christopher and you have a cast that is enjoyable to watch, and right at home in a universe where over-the-top adventure theatrics are the order of the day.

On the downside, a few scenes of Jake interacting with public-domain pulp or comic-book characters would have gone a long way in really selling the premise without any cost to the production. Seeing Jake alongside characters like Fantomah or Spider would have hit this tale out of the park… and would have made great material for possible future installments… in my not-so-humble opinion anyways…

To supplement the above, Arrow Video have included a few new interviews on this Blu-ray release including talks with co-writer/producer/director Andrew Lane and producer William Fay.

Jake Speed is a great pulp adventure romp that deserves to be both seen and loved by those that dig on adventure novels, movie serials, or action comic-strip characters… so if that’s you, pick this up already would ya?!!



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