CRIMEWATCH: Stone Cold
What we now know as the “biker movie” genre began with Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels (1966) which starred Peter Fonda as a furious, “sickle” riding hellion. Throughout the rest of the late 60s and into the 70s there were hundreds of these kinds of chopper operas made for drive-in and grindhouse audiences and they proved to be very popular.
When I want to watch a more modern day, furious biker movie, there’s one that I always go back to: Stone Cold (1991). The film stars the charismatic NFL player turned actor Brian Bosworth as Joe Huff, a rebellious Alabama policeman that has been suspended from the force for being too violent with the criminals. When we first meet Joe he’s just stopped a robbery in progress in Cobra style.
Known for his renegade ways on the job, Huff is recruited (well, more like blackmailed) by a federal agent named Cunningham (Richard Grant) to go undercover and infiltrate a criminal biker organization called The Brotherhood. Huff is also assigned a special contact agent (who happens to be a germophobe) named Lance (Sam McMurray) that will monitor the operation and deliver important information on what’s going on around him.
Huff makes plans to get into the circle of cycle savages by hanging around their known haunts and breathing the same air, getting into the right mood. He sees the perfect chance when two Brotherhood members get in a bar brawl. Joe daftly steps in to help them out to receive some biker brownie points. While one of the members “Gut” (Evan James), a dimwitted but affable guy thanks Huff and invites him to a biker gathering, the other, a psychotic hun named “Ice” Hensley (William Forsythe) takes an immediate disliking to Joe who he refers to as a “grown up version of Bam Bam”.
Still, Joe has managed to break into The Brotherhood’s general environment and soon makes a name for himself by playing the no nonsense, tough as nails loner act to the hilt. The Brotherhood’s leader “Chains” Cooper (Lance Henriksen) quickly notices Joe (who is using the alias “John Stone”) and tries to find out more about him. He even offers his “mama” (current girlfriend) Nancy to Joe as a sign of friendship, as bikers will do.
Huff manipulates Chains and keeps Ice at bay but finds out that The Brotherhood has an agenda that goes beyond merely acting tough, racing bikes and stomping people into meat waffles. They are planning on assassinating a D.A. named Brent “The Whip” Whipperton who is running for Governor of Mississippi and simultaneously busting out one of the Brotherhood’s members who has been locked up. It’s a two fer one type deal.
The movie comes packed with tons of fighting, maiming, brotherhood posing, furious face offs, beatdowns, stomp downs, smacking, nerve rattling, beer guzzling, babe probing, bitch slapping and betrayals. Basically all those furious, mad as hell things we love to see in these kinds of biker-action film yarns.
Brian “The Boz” Bosworth is totally believable as Joe Huff, the blonde maned caveman cop on two wheels. He has the perfect stone cold attitude straight out of the Charles Bronson handbook. He may not be an acting dynamo here but he does a solid job bringing a serious realism to his character and doesn’t go over the top with it, which could’ve been very easy to do.
William Forsythe has always been able to play the best kind of ‘loose cannon’ film baddies and his portrayal of “Ice” is like watching a stick of dynamite with a very short fuse, it could go off at any time and when it does you better be in another state. He would follow this part with another memorable psychotic performance in the Steven Seagal actioner “Out For Justice”.
Last but certainly not least is Lance Henriksen as Chains. For me, Lance always brings an immense amount of integrity to these kinds of roles. He infuses his evil dudes with more than just the usual black and white characteristics and always elevates them to something greater by giving them unique attitudes and a fierce determination.
Stone Cold didn’t get much critical acclaim upon its release and even now its not considered a great film by any means but it’s really not supposed to be an award winner kind of movie. It is however the perfect late night “beers and pizza” experience in the tradition of films such as Road House. It’s a fast moving, high octane, undercover cop procedural meets blazing biker blast!
We like to use the term “furious cinema” in a variety of ways. It usually means something that’s not of the norm and/or classic but it also applies to those kinds of movies you watch that are there for pure entertainment without the serious, scholarly aspects of film coming into play. The biker gang busting Stone Cold is definitely one of those for me!