Tuesday, March 10, 2009

He Shoulda Froze

Robert Carradine and Billy Dee Williams are no Gibson and Glover, that’s for sure. Cannon produced NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET, a shameless ripoff of LETHAL WEAPON with former Nerd Carradine hamming it up all psycho as an unhinged detective and suave Billy Dee as his more grounded black partner. Of course, as a Cannon feature, NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET is much cheaper and even dumber. It even goes so far as to cast Peter Graves as a carbon copy of the white-haired harried cop boss in LETHAL WEAPON. Producers Menahem Golem and Yoram Globus, in typical huckster style, managed to rush this picture into production and get it into theaters one week before LETHAL WEAPON premiered in 1987.

Reckless “Berserk” Burzak (Carradine), who is stalking ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli (ONE DAY AT A TIME), is obsessed with a wealthy man named DeCosta (Barry Sattels), whom he suspects is a druglord. When he isn’t stalking ex-wife Bertinelli or playing jokes on his partner Frank Hazeltine (Williams), Burzak is usually spying on DeCosta in search of evidence. After fouling up an assignment to bodyguard a witness, Burzak and Hazeltine are taken off the streets, which never stops maverick movie cops from getting into barroom brawls and intimidating suspects anyway.

Besides Billy Dee’s silky amiability—he’s obviously too good for this—there’s nothing at all extraordinary about NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET. Carradine’s character is so bull-headed and unlikable that it’s difficult to root for him, and Jack Smight’s direction is perfunctory at best. The movie mixes action scenes and humor well enough (Carradine gets tossed into a ring with female mud wrestlers), but no better than dozens of TV cop shows. Also with Doris Roberts (as—duh—a mom), Ray Girardin, Bobby DiCicco, Mikelti Williamson, Jon Gries, Alex Rebar, Michael Goodwin and Larry Poindexter. Andrew Kurtzman, Rob Riley, and Jim Belushi, who all worked together on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, were brought in to punch up Gail Morgan Hickman’s story, likely adding the humor. I’m surprised Belushi isn’t in it. He must have been too busy on THE PRINCIPAL.

Here's the trailer:


Andrew Wickliffe said...

This one's currently available at Netflix Watch Now. I haven't seen it in years (discovered it when I was working at a video store). Need to watch it again.

Robert said...

Taken strictly as B movie entertainment I found this to be enjoyable enough when I first watched it. It would be good double-feature fodder with another Billy Dee Williams movie from the same year, DEADLY ILLUSION.