When three friends organise a robbery, their plans go tragically
awry, culminating in Gloria's younger brother being shot and
killed. She blames Johnny, who is imprisoned for a crime he
didn't commit. When Johnny is paroled, he returns to Hell's
Kitchen - the streets of New York, trying to make a new life
for himself. He teams-up with an ex-boxing champ, who agrees
to train him, but a corrupt promoter takes him on. However,
Johnny has the added problem that Gloria is gunning for him.
Gloria has her own problems though. Her lover Patty, the person
actually responsible for her brother's death, is immersed
in a world of drugs and violence and has drawn Gloria's mother
Hell's Kitchen is one story, it actually consists of
three segments which are very different in style, and incorporate
three plot strands. The first depicts the robbery and what
happens when it goes wrong. This is extremely hard going;
as a reviewer I felt forcibly obligated to persevere. The
characters' mothers get almost constant mention, if you get
my drift. I'm not averse to swearing being used anywhere in
fiction within its context, but there's so much effing and
blinding in the film that without it the dialogue would be
only half its length. Extreme violence, continual conflict,
everyone and his uncle on drugs... Is New York really like
this? And if so, do people really want to watch a fictional
film which, certainly early on, appears to glorify it?
second section follows Johnny's return to the streets, and
Gloria's agonising relationship with her mother and Patty.
Johnny is cleaner than clean. After boxing regularly in prison,
he now seeks professional fights. Gloria turns up intending
to kill him. Her mother and Patty have struck up a drug-induced
violent sexual relationship, and she learns belatedly that
Patty harbours a guilty secret. This occupies the majority
of the running time. It's the getting to the point when everything
is out in the open and three old friend's lives are at a turning
point. Ironically, the boxing bout scenes are almost incidental
to the plot, and yet they are easily the most impressive.
It makes me wonder if it might have been better to centre
on the boxing, and have Johnny's past threaten his shot at
final section comes in a series of vignetted epilogues. Each
scene slowly fades out, making you believe the film is about
to end, only to be followed by another, and yet another. Johnny,
without really trying that hard, has turned everyone's life
around. He has paired-up with Gloria, who is pregnant with
their child. Gloria's mother is in rehab, and patching things
up with her daughter. Patty is visited in a psychiatric hospital
by Johnny, who wants to rekindle their friendship - as unlikely
as this might sound, after being imprisoned for the man's
crime and then almost being shot by him. But it seems Patty
has an excuse for his misdemeanours: he was beaten as a child.
can see what Hell's Kitchen is trying to achieve: to
overcome and climb from the ghetto of their youth. To build
futures for themselves. I suppose, in that respect it succeeds.
But don't expect too much from this offering, because you
won't get it.