Crotch Crickets

The best thing about Jake Speed is its oozing sentimentality. It’s about a good guy long out of the good guy’s prime. A star of fictional pulp novels, living in a world where no one believes in classic heroes anymore. Alongside Jake Speed in 1986, it was Schwarzenegger and Stallone, muscle and brawn. Jake Speed – he’s just a man who stands for right.

Speed (Wayne Crawford) knows he’ll win; that’s how his reality functions. Nothing progressed for him since his inception. The women still get in the way and need saving, in this case from a sex trafficker working out of Africa. That’s adventurous, using the African setting (and its people) for little more than set dressing. Simple, direct. Or, pulpy.

Existing with the ‘80s growing murder rate, grungy subway graffiti, and drug-laced high society, the simplicity in Jake Speed celebrates fantasy. Margaret (Karen Kopins) then represent this ’80s culture, rejecting the idea that such people still exist in such an ugly world. Yet, her small glimmer of hope, enough to get Margaret on a plane to meet Speed in Africa, is enough to restore honor.

Jake Speed is a loss, whiffing on its potential. Yet, there’s still purpose to Jake Speed

It’s the movie itself letting everyone down. Although not without allusions of marketing on Indiana Jones’ back, the idea of pulp novel stars existing is clever… then hardly acted on. That’s a set-up in a movie desperate for charisma, enthusiasm, or exuberance. Crawford is no Harrison Ford, and the fun erodes in a rather snippy movie that edges the PG-rating. Jake Speed is mean-spirited and overtly violent. And, while Speed’s agitation for those who doubt him plays into the theme, he comes across as a callous jerk.

Jake Speed needs funds too, the minimalist action begging for scale and thrills. Or, more of it. The runtime spends valuable minutes in a back-and-forth between Margaret and Speed bouncing off one another in a repetitive routine. Again and again they argue, going over the same ground without a villain to play against. John Hurt’s Sid doesn’t show up until some 40-minutes in.

In that, Jake Speed is a loss, whiffing on its potential. Yet, there’s still purpose to Jake Speed. Where superheroes rule cinemas, there’s space for someone like Speed, just in reverse. People expect Captain America. Pulp again fell to the wayside. Bring Speed back, only now, in disappointment he can’t shoot laser beams or throw a shield. That’s a humor bait waiting to happen.

Video

Likely shot on a cheaper film stock, the result is something heavy on source grain. Arrow’s encode keeps up as much as it can. Compression never shows its hand, anyway.

This looks like a decent master, recent if not the highest resolution. Sharpness pulls fidelity from tight close-ups, but lacks everywhere else. The wide shots bolster scenery, but whiff when showcasing beauty due to the natural coarseness. A light haze at the source further erodes definition, but that’s not the master’s fault.

Dense black levels help bring out depth and dimension. Passable contrast helps too, although color is the real star. Margaret wears some dresses rich in saturation, while flesh tones warm organically. Primaries jump out in full in each opportunity.

Audio

Flattened audio also suggests the low budget. Obviously dubbed dialog sounds muddy. Sound effects stretch treble limits.

Only the soundtrack brings some clarity in this PCM mix. In addition, the lows catch with a smooth transition, adding to the beat. There’s more energy there than in the movie.

Extras

Director, co-writer, co-producer Andrew Lane speaks for 21-minutes in a new interview, that followed by a 12-minute chat with co-producer William Fay.

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Jake Speed
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Movie

While the sentimentality for a lost era of heroism is great, the execution of Jake Speed is muddled, ponderous, and desperate for charisma.

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