Written by Cynthia A. Cherbak
Directed by Richard T. Heffron
Sgt. Mercurio...Brock Peters
Chuck Coburn believes he has the perfect daughter in Jamie--she's pretty, smart, a great student, well behaved. So when she requests permission to stay out all night for prom, he says it's okay "as long as you're going to be with the gang."
Oh, she's with the gang all right. But not the Archie-from-Riverdale gang that he's thinking. Turns out Jamie is also known as Shadow, and she's deeply involved with L.F.N. (Live For Now), a bunch of "middle class white kids shooting at each other from BMWs."
Rival Asian gang The Dragons have a hit out on Jamie's boyfriend Rocket, and when they perform a drive-by, her best friend Jenny is killed in the crossfire. Jamie goes missing, and Papa Chuck decides to accentuate the police investigation with a search of his own.
Chuck follows the clues from his cozy little neighborhood into the seedy streets of Los Angeles, full of drugs, guns and prostitution.
This could have (maybe should have) been a Father Gets Revenge film, but instead it's one long melodramatic PSA/After School Special about all the urban dangers lurking behind the corner of every white man's house.
It's a cheesy made-for-TV movie and full of melodrama, but that's part of its charm. There's a lot of horrible 80s fashions and retro street life imagery, so there's always something fun to look at onscreen. And it features music by the all-but-forgotten Suicidal Tendencies, so it gains a few extra points from me.
Shatner is relatively restrained here, somewhat believably playing the concerned father--albeit one who is entirely too old to be sporting a Letterman jacket. There was a pretty outrageous scene where he single-handedly busts up a drug deal, but for the most part he's not an action hero. This isn't Captain Kirk or T.J. Hooker taking on the street gangs--although if it were, I'd probably watch it twice.
Brock Peters is also good as the rather ineffectual Sgt. Mercurio, but the real star of the show is Roxann Dawson as Shakti, the street smart member of the L.A. Gang Project who assists Chuck in searching for his daughter while dropping uncomfortable truth-bombs on him like he was Pearl Harbor. I think Chuck develops a little crush on her...and I'm pretty sure I did as well.
Amusing enough for a curious viewing, but a little on the preachy side for me.
On an interesting side note, Rodney Eastman (best known as Joey from Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and 4) appears as a male prostitute trying to give Shatner blowsies for bucks. Best...cameo...ever.
"If I eat this one more time, my initials are going to be MSG!"