The neo noir rock musical Streets of fire could be the main cyberpunk movie overlooked by fans of the genre. The self-proclaimed “rock’n’roll fable” with Michael Paré and Diane Lane was a giant swing by Walter Hill (extraterrestrial) and screenwriter Larry Gross after the massive success of their previous collaboration: 1982 Buddy-Cop-Action-Comedy 48 hours, with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy. With the movie recently added to Netflix, Streets of fire can finally be recognized by American audiences as a source of inspiration for more popular iterations of its visuals.
The neo noir musical tells the story of Ellen Aim (Lane), a rock ‘n roll singer who was kidnapped by thugs on stage after being kidnapped by a nefarious biker (Willem Dafoe) and his gang Her ex-boyfriend, the dashing one, is rescued by wandering mercenary Tom Cody (Paré). The movie feels like fat by Escape from New York; an explosive, cheesy action drama full of over-the-top brawls, memorable neon lighting shot on location between Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive and downtown Los Angeles, and a soundtrack full of tracks by the likes of Jim Steinman, Jimmy. Iovine and Stevie Nicks were written. The climax of the film in question is the scene in which Tom, who infiltrated the biker’s hideout to save Ellen, begins to divert the petrol tanks of the gang’s motorcycles before making a hasty attempt to escape with Ellen in tow.
Although Streets of fire was a box office bomb when it was released in 1984 and grossed just $ 8 million in North America on a budget of over $ 14.5 million, its explosive action sequences, score, and memorable performances by Lane, Dafoe and Rick Moranis as Ellen’s dweebish managerish slash friend Billy Fish has built a cult following. The film also has a somewhat reserved but no less significant legacy as a visual and spiritual touchstone in the then-burgeoning speculative sub-genre of cyberpunk.
When we look back at the earliest origins of cyberpunk, most people refer to the same basic texts: William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer, Bruce Sterlings Mirror screens Anthology and Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade runner. While Scott’s film is the original visual text for almost every major cyberpunk film released in its own way, it is only recognized as one itself in retrospect. The term “cyberpunk” was originally coined by Bruce Bethke’s novel of the same name, which was published just a year before the premiere of Blade Runner. It would only be after the release of Neuromancer and Mirror screens that the term was later adopted as the name for the subgenre itself.
Cyberpunk as we know it today was still in its infancy when Streets of fire rolled around. Along with Blade runner, Films like 1981 Escape from New York, 1982 Burst city, and 1982 Tron all helped establish the imagery of the genre. Streets of fire emerged from this series of formative films; an anachronistic rock and roll action romance set in another time, another place, inspired by the likes of Frances Ford Coppola Rumblefish and Adrien Lynnes Lightning dance.
“[W]e had a phrase inspired by George Lucas in mind: ‘in a galaxy long ago’, a futuristic past, ”said Gross in an interview with Slash Film
Hughes’ teenage dramas also inspired Hill and Gross, but what they ultimately brought out was a high school musical set in a neon-lit city where it’s almost always night and no one is over 30 years old. Streets of fireThe film’s anachronisms may have made it difficult to sell in the US, but the film would still achieve significant success if it was later released in Japan. And here is Streets of fires subdued legacy begins.
The story, characters and music of the Hill and Gross film influenced two major works of the cyberpunk anime: the four-part anime OVA (original video animation). Megazone 23 and eight-part anime OVA Chewing gum crisis. If the premise of the first, a young biker taking on nefarious street gangs while exposing the radical true nature of his world, and composer Shiro Sagisu’s upbeat pop-rock score weren’t already reminiscent of Streets of Fires own, the first episode of Megazone 23 literally begins with the protagonist seeing the actual film in the cinemas.
However, the movie’s influence on cyberpunk anime is perhaps best known for having inspired the opening montage of Chewing gum crisis‘first episode, with the scene of the fictional band “Priss and the Replicants”, which is led by the series protagonist Priscilla Asagiri and an obvious allusion to Blade runner, Performing in front of a packed night club. The song “There’s a Hurricane Tonight” is a clear homage to Streets of fire‘Nowhere Fast’ ‘s own opening musical number, which recreates the same camera angles, lighting, and infectious pop-rock sound of Diane Lane’s own performance as the film’s lead female role, Elle Aim.
The connections to the more popular cyberpunk don’t stop there: Streets of fire was also a formative influence on Mike Pondsmith’s cyberpunk tabletop RPG and served as primary inspiration for the game’s Rockerboy class, the character of Johnny Silverhand, and even the world building of the game’s video game adaptation Cyberpunk 2077. “While Blade runnerIs the most obvious focal point for the visual style, I think the original material is even more influenced by the little memoryStreets of fire“Said Senior Quest Designer Patrick Mills in an interview with Collider last year. “Noir films were a major influence Cyberpunk 2077It’s story, even more than the kind of Science-Do you might expect. The themes of corruption, moral ambiguity, death, fate and futility in our game are based on the work of the noir genre. “
In the most unlikely circumstances Streets of fire has established itself as a cult classic to this day; a retro-contemporary noir musical full of catchy visuals and catchy rock ballads. Though nothing to do with transhumanism or advanced technology, the film still focuses on the most enduring cyberpunk locations: a dark, rain-soaked city that revolves around territorial disputes between repressive law enforcement agencies and outlaw bikers and gangsters over control and vie for power. It’s a fun movie; You should definitely take the time to check it out while it is available.
Streets of fire is available for streaming Netflix.