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Anchor Bay presents

Jake Speed (1986)

"That'd make a piss-poor story, wouldn't it?"- Jake Speed (Wayne Crawford)

Stars: Wayne Crawford, Dennis Christopher, Karen Kopins, John Hurt
Other Stars: Leon Ames, Roy London, Donna Pescow, Barry Primus, Monte Markham, Millie Perkins, Rebecca Ashley, Alan Shearman, Karl Johnson, Sal Viscuso, Ken Lerner, Peter Fox, Ian Yule, Ken Gampu, Joe Ribeiro
Director: Andrew Lane

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: PG for (Language, violence)
Run Time: 01h:44m:41s
Release Date: 2001-03-13
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- D+A-A C-


DVD Review

By the time you have finished reading this sentence, you have already invested far too much time in Jake Speed, directed by Andrew Lane, and co-written and produced by Lane and star Wayne Crawford, writers of 1983's Valley Girl. The premise isn't bad: a pulp fiction hero comes to life to track down a missing girl in Africa, but the execution should have been of the director, not the film.

While travelling in Europe, two young girls are kidnapped by foreign gunmen. Back in the U.S. the family of one of the girls are upset with the lack of progress being made through official channels. While a priest prays for her return, grandpa (Leon Ames) suggests that finding the girl is a job for Jake Speed, the hero in a series of pulp action novels. The family dismisses the idea as the rantings of an old man, but Margaret Winston (Karen Kopins) blames herself for suggesting her sister take a tour of Europe, so is intrigued when she gets a note to meet Mr. Speed at a seedy bar if she ever wants to see her sister Maureen alive again. Of course, she drags her reluctant friend Wendy (Donna Pescow, Saturday Night Fever) along for the ride, and eventually meets Jake Speed (Wayne Crawford) and his accomplis, Desmond Floyd (Dennis Christopher), who insist she must join them in Africa to find her sister. She does, only to find that the country they are in is on the verge of civil war. After being set up as a decoy intended to lead Speed and company to the slave traders holding her sister, she begins to doubt whether the guy is for real or not. After miraculously surviving a skirmish in which the walls of their hotel room are shot out, the trio make their way to a remote barn, where some piece of heavy equipment is supposed to show up. Figuring she's been duped, Margaret steals off while the men are asleep, and is picked up by some Americans who inform her that all foreigners are being evacuated. She is also informed that Jake and Desmond are imposters... will she ever find her sister?

Who cares! I suppose financing a film is as good a way as any to become a leading man, but in this film Wayne Crawford has the charisma of a rock. There was potential in the script, as some of the lines and setups could have worked in the hands of a more convincing lead with better direction, but here the film falls flat on its face, trying to be funny and failing miserably. It also doesn't seem to be written for the right audience, as the language and degree of violence would preclude it from showing to the younger male audience that might overlook bad acting and poor comedic timing. It is obvious that a fair amount of money was spent on this, as the production values, while not outstanding, would certainly command a high price for the several battle sequences with lots of explosions and special effects. I will say that Karen Hopins is the only reason to watch the film, but even she is directed into delivering a highly mediocre performance. Even John Hurt, who shows up far too late in the film as the bad guy, can't save it.

While the message of the film is that if you believe in something hard enough, it will happen, its whole purpose is lost on bad performances. Perhaps the producers didn't believe they could make a good movie. What could have made an interesting adventure film is poorly handled in Jake Speed. Can I please have my two hours back?

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Once again Anchor Bay has pulled off another extremely nice transfer for a film that really doesn't deserve it. Print defects are all but completely absent, colors are rich, blacks are deep, with good shadow detail and contrast. The image is slightly soft, and with fine grain, but very natural looking.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The "ultra" stereo soundtrack is excellent, full range with no distortion and nice directionality. Mark Snow's original score is well presented.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The film's theatrical trailer and two teaser trailers are the only on-disc extras, all presented in anamorphic widescreen. The thematic menus are great, fully playing up the pulp novel idea. The insert features a complete synopsis of the film, so you could save yourself some agony and read that instead of watching the picture.

Extras Grade: C-

Final Comments

Anchor Bay has delivered yet another decent transfer from New World Picture's catalogue. The menus and presentation are great, and if they can put this kind of delivery behind a film that actually deserves it, it will be stunning. Unfortunately, they had to work with this waste of celluloid here, but have done a superb job packaging it. What are you doing still reading this?

Jeff Ulmer 2001-04-03