Streets of Gold (1986) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

In the wake of Rocky and The Karate Kid comes Streets of Gold, a minor entry into the boxing genre. The film has been directed with little flair by Joe Roth, who shows no conceivable style, motivation or interest in his subject. Perhaps, the most disappointing is that the film features marvelous method-actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, and sports a script from the usually top-notch Richard Price.

Alek Neuman (Brandauer) is a former boxing champ from the Soviet Union, who defected after an altercation with his coach left him unable to participate in the Olympics. Now, years later he lives in virtual obscurity, bitter disillusioned and bordering alcoholism. A chance encounter at an underground boxing event ignites a desire that the once-famed fighter hasn’t felt in ages.

During the event Alek meets two promising sluggers Timmy Boyle (Adrian Pasdar) and Roland Jenkins (Wesley Snipes). The prospects persuade Alek to train them. After some initial hesitation the Russian agrees to coach the boys, and slowly regain his self-respect in the process. Fueled by his own desire to participate, Alek pushes his protégés to their limits both emotionally as well as physically.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arrises when the two boys are slated to fight the Russian team coached by Alek’s nemesis. This match between East and West is also the disgraced fighter’s last shot at retribution.

Streets of Gold slowly goes through the motions and I appreciate the fact that the filmmakers attempted to flesh out their characters, rather than presenting us with cardboard clichés, but the movie is deadly dull. Richard Price’s screenplay may have been better in the hands of a more experienced director, something necessary to rein in the wild-man Brandauer. He simply isn’t the right choice for the material, he delivers his usual off-balance performance and it becomes obnoxious by film’s end. In competitors’ terms; Streets of Gold is no bum off the street, but it’s also not a contender.

Director: Joe Roth
Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Wesley Snipes, Klaus Maria Bandauer

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