KISS OF DEATH (1995)

Directed By: Barbet Schroeder
Written By: Richard Price
Based on the Original Screenplay “KISS OF DEATH” By: Ben Hecht & Charles Lederer
Based on a story By Eleazar Lipsky
Cinematography: Luciano Tovolli
Editor: Lee Percy

Cast: David Caruso, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Ving Rhames, Stanley Tucci, Helen Hunt, Michael Rapaport, Kathryn Erbe, Jay O. Sanders, Hope Davis, Anthony Heald, Philip Baker Hall, Paul Calderon, Anne Meara, John Costelloe 

A reformed convict goes undercover with the help of an angry detective to ensnare a psychotic mobster.


When I saw the trailer I knew I had to see this film as soon as possible. I had seen it on the show COMING ATTRACTIONS on the E! Channel when it used to be more devoted to film and film lovers. Not so much gossip. This trailer had me hypnotized so much I taped it and would watch it over and over again. Keep in mind this was before the internet. 

One of my favorite trailers at the time. The cast was seductive so I ended up watching it on opening weekend. 

I know this is a remake but i haven’t seen the original. Which unknown was noteworthy for Richard Widmark’s giggling hitman. There are no signs of that here. Even though Nicolas Cage steals the show as the villain here. Though that might be due to the script trying to make him come off as memorable as Richard Widmark.

This film is supposed to be a thriller though most of the time plays like a dark comedy. One that is central To New York’s character types. Even as it has More thriller elements and framework. 

Everybody seems to speak way too loudly throughout and every sentence or word seems to end and be with an exclamation point. 

This is a modern remake for the 1990’s with what would end up being an all-star cast in the middle of their careers and some just been naming their hot streaks. 

The film seems to borrow part of the cast of PULP FICTION. As the dialogue also tries to be loose and have criminals have odd yet funny conversations emblematic of that  film. It even has a few actors from that movie in it’s cast but it has an overall style of cool. A violent cool with bits of dark comedy thrown in. Where it again always feels like the characters are playing types more than real human beings for the most part.

This movie was supposed to help make a movie star out of David Caruso after being a lifelong character actor and being on a hit Television show. Which pulled him to fame and leaving that show after two seasons to be a movie star. Here is a role he was used to just not being at the center of attention.

Nicolas Cage here is off-kilter as always. Muscle bound and hilarious. As he plays an over the top mobster’s son who Caruso is trying to take down or more like the cops are forcing him to. He is murderous yet childlike at instances 

In the end the most despicable character and true villain of the film is Michael Rappaport who causes all this trouble and is taken down early and quickly.

While the film tries to feel realistic. You are always aware that it is a production. As it even feels thoroughly always like cinema. Never like any kind of reality or relatable. 

For all the violence and tough talk by the end it seems a little too cut and dry. Where it ends up feeling lightweight by the end. No matter how far it has taken us. 

GRADE: B- 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s