NOW ON HULU! As a child of the 1980s, I loved the unplug-your-brain action television shows like Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Dukes of Hazzard, etc. Sadly, Stephen J. Cannell and company are no longer allowed on the small screen. Thankfully, indie film has stepped in and brought in a few action stars, including Bruce Willis, Stephen Dorff, and John Travolta, to add some weight to my road down nostalgia lane. Let’s face it. The sex and violence are also a draw.
Chuck Russell’s crime thriller, Paradise City, takes us to Hawaiian underground, where the gunplay is hot, like the bikini-clad ladies sitting poolside. Blake Jenner plays Ryan, the son of a bounty hunter, Ian (Bruce Willis). Ryan is pissed off and looking for revenge. At the film’s start, Ian is taken out by a group of heavily armed henchmen of the evil real estate developer Buckley (John Travolta). The double-crossed Ian is quickly dispatched and turned into shark bait along the beautiful Hawaiian coast.
Dedicated to finding his dad’s killer, Ryan enlists the aid of Ian’s former partner, Robbie (Stephen Dorff), who is not much help considering he had an affair with Ryan’s mother. It appears that all roads lead to Buckley, but they are stopped at every turn by the beautiful Police detective Savannah (Praya Lundberg), who insists that she handle the investigations because, you know, laws.
“…not much help considering he had an affair with Ryan’s mother.”
The key to films like Paradise City is finding exotic action locations while freshening up the crime boss plots. At its heart, Paradise City is the David and Goliath story, where Ryan’s small, smooth stone is traded for a semi-automatic rifle. The action flick boasts the requisite gun fights, brutal blows in an MMA cage, pretty girls, and double-crosses at every turn.
Of course, we’re on the Hawaiian islands, and Paradise City refers to the last natural refuge of the Hawaiian people that Buckley wants to develop for his own greedy purposes. Savannah takes Ryan to the Paradise City refuge so he can learn about the culture and maybe ignite a spark or two with Savannah.
We get a lot of indie action films at Film Threat, and Paradise City more than overcomes the challenge of feeling stale. Clearly, getting big names like Willis, Travolta, and Dorff helps get a film made. Though the story revolves mainly around Blake Jenner with help from Praya Lundberg, the big-name trio is not just doing cameos here. All three have a significant amount of screen time. You’re getting your money’s worth here.
For an 80s kid like me, Paradise City is a fun and lightweight tale for an evening of Hulu and chill. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s entertaining enough, especially considering Willis’s recent retirement.
Paradise City is currently available on Hulu.
"…the big-name trio is not just doing cameos here."