I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Silk

“Look Silk, I know it’s gonna be hard to recognize these cold cuts, but that’s your scag dealer, minus one ear.”

Oh Silk, you’re one of the good ones. Maybe America’s relationship with law enforcement wouldn’t be so complicated if more of them were like you, with your sense of honor and style. In Cirio Santiago’s 1986 police story, Cec Verrell (HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN) stars as Jenny “Silk” Sleighton, a Honolulu police detective with commanding style and a worshipful theme song.

“She ain’t the usual cop that hangs around,” the song informs us. “Don’t you push your luck too far / Silk’s gonna get you no matter where you are / You’ll never get away / from Silk! /yowww!/ [guitar solo]”

She says they call her Silk “because I’m so fuckin smoooothhh.” The movie itself does not go down as smoothly as its lead character, or its theme song, or its badass movie poster that inspired me to rent it. But of the things in life that I regret, watching this is low on the list.

The story (screenplay by Frederick Bailey, EQUALIZER 2000, TERMINAL JUSTICE) involves some Vietnam vets, heroin smuggling, selling the identities of dead Asian people, threatening witnesses so they don’t testify, “a Hong Kong organization called Gemini Syndicate,” and etc. The investigation involves stakeouts, rotted corpses washing up on shore, tailing a guy, chasing guys through a mall. In the opening scene she climbs a tall structure mid-shootout, jumps on the back of a moving train and blows up a car. The action doesn’t escalate much after that, but there are a bunch of shootouts throughout, mostly pretty decent.

The setting is pretty interesting. Santiago liked to shoot in Hawaii, but it’s novel to see urban Honolulu instead of just tourist beaches. This also means all kinds of Hawaiian shirts in a time and place when cool guys wore them, not just John Lasseter.

One thing we do find out about Silk – she’s good at climbing. When a guy she’s chasing climbs up a construction ladder you can’t help but say “Oh no buddy, climbing things is one of Silk’s many talents.” They have a brief knife fight and then slide down a slanted roof, and there’s a cool stunt of her falling over the edge but grabbing on, before one of those laughably fake shots of a motionless dummy of the guy falling. Of course, this is the type of movie where you’re kind of banking on some ridiculous moments to make it fun.

Here’s one: the lovely sex scene, using dissolves to go from position to position, that suddenly shows a teddy bear propped up on the bed post, wearing sunglasses.

This is just not a very exciting story, but I can almost recommend watching it just for Silk herself. Verrell is a badass woman in the Brigitte Nielsen mode, and there just aren’t enough of those in movies. She’s so cool with her slicked back hair, sunglasses and fingerless gloves, macho touches that she adds to various creative fashions. Sometimes it’s, like, a jean jacket with the collar up, or a camouflaged tank top with sunglasses and a white cap with a duck on it. In fact she must have a whole closet full of tank tops, because she also wears bright blue, red, and black, usually over white, tucked in with a gun on her belt.

But it’s not always masculine. For example she wears a black dress that would have her boobs hanging out except she’s wearing a sleeveless t-shirt under it. She wears high fashion sunglasses to a cockfight. She has a tough glare and knows not to jibber jabber too much.

When she goes on dates, though, her hair is curly, which is kind of disappointing. Be yourself, Silk. If they can’t handle 100% Silk then you don’t need ’em.

When she gets jumped by six guys on the street she holds them off with karate, and throws one guy off a bridge. She gets literally backed into a dead end and keeps fighting them off until some male cops come over with guns and chase the guys away. She might’ve been able to take them. She doesn’t seem relieved, she just pulls her collar up.

There aren’t many reviews of this online, and some of them that are say that Verrell is not a very good actress. I disagree. I think this type of tough girl performance takes skills, and she also has a legitimately effective dramatic scene when she discovers her boyfriend has hidden his connection to the people they’re investigating and confronts him about it.

The credits say “based on the character created by Claudine St. James,” leading to me believe it’s based on some series of pulp novels. The weird thing is that I can’t find anything about an author named Claudine St. James. I did discover that it’s the name of a character in a Harlequin Romance called Back in Kansas, and also a French movie called MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BOIS DE BOULOGNE. And the credit is not included on IMDb. I’m pretty sure they just made it up to make the movie sound more legit.

SILK WILL RETURN IN SILK 2. But it will be a different actress. I will still watch it.


NOTE: I watched this on a Code Red Blu-Ray, but for some reason I can only find the VHS on Amazon.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 at 7:49 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “Silk”

  1. 2 is even better but this one has some of the best VHS box art of all time.

  2. Shame the sequel isn’t named “100% Silk”.

  3. Cool movie, easily one of the mighty Cirio H Santiago’s very best.

    I hear that SILK 2 is the better film, but it cannot be so – it doesn’t have Cec Verrell in it.

    She had great presence and an awesome look. She looked like Meg Foster’s badass l’il sister.

    She was fantastic in HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN. A real steeliness but a glint of humor, too.

    She shoulda been bigger.

    Whatever happened to her?

  4. Love Silk’s Blastfighter pose on the thumbnail poster. That gun. (Those two bullets!) Does she even pull out a weapon like that in the film? Or is it another example of awesome 80’s poster art being greater than the film?

  5. Wow…so this was shot only about 5 years before I moved to Honolulu. Just in the trailer I saw a few places that I recognize. Ok, damn, I’m going to watch it. And FWIW, I like ladies with curly hair, Vern!

  6. I’ve never heard of this, but now instantly need to see it. I just watched Hell Comes To Frogtown last weekend, and she was one of the better parts of the flick, so I’m down to see this. And the plot description and Hawaiian setting reminds me of Andy Sidaris flicks, every late 80s/early90s late night cable favorites for teen boys.

  7. Does she shoot a guy while wearing a bra like the poster?

  8. Reading this, I have to ask: Vern, are you ever going to review the work of the peerless Andy Sidaris?

  9. “Man, he must be smoking some HEAVY doobies!”

  10. I think Code Red went under a few years ago. I know one release in particular was going for a lot of money. Still weird it’s not listed on Amazon but maybe it’s so scarce now that they don’t bother. I think The Unseen was the pricy title if I remember right. Honestly just got home from work and to tired to research.

  11. Sorry. Never mind. Just saw they are still in business.

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