New York in 1978 was a great time to be a gangster - at least that's what it says on the poster for this film. I personally could never get past most of the music of the period, in particular, disco. In the movie a trio of gangsters awaits the arrival of an intermediary - another gangster from a different borough. Some small talk ensues letting us know that these guys have worked together for a while, who they are, and where they are.
You see reader, things haven't been going well lately and the boss wants to know what and why. Disappearances, missing shipments, the usual things that ruffle the feathers of most gangsters - and the usual suspects are always front and center - another boss, another crew. With the arrival of the representative from Brooklyn, the expected pleasantries are observed before the real questions begin - and getting answers is not a question of if, only when. Sometimes however, things are not quite what they appear to be - but one way or another, someone will be leaving this church in a bag. Welcome to Hell's Kitchen 1978, where it's a great time to be a gangster.
Let me put it out on the table all at once, the story is here is pretty unoriginal, even stereotypical. A group of mob inspired gangsters waiting to potentially lay the smackdown on another gangster from a different gang/family. The dialog and actions of these individuals are exactly what you expect it to be - after watching years of mafia inspired movies. And yet it's all handled so damn well that it's incredibly entertaining to watch. Perhaps it's the familiarity itself that makes "Hell's Kitchen" so fun to watch, like your favorite comfort food on a gloomy day. Who needs a new spin on something when keeping things similar is like falling back into your own, familiar, comfy couch for a few minutes. I write that the story and characters are cliches for sure, and I mean that as a compliment. It removes the time it takes to world build, and instantly lets us know exactly what's up - a smart move for a film that is very short in length.
Did I mention that this flick also looks and sounds amazing? Well reader, it does - and I'm not just talking about the technical aspects either. Steve Young's film has some excellent performances that drive along the story. From the gesturing and movements, straight through to the anecdotal stories narrated from the characters. This film oozes experience and natural talent - all rolled together into one fast-paced narrative.
I wrote the words fast-paced above and to be honest? Those two words sum up this film in a lot of ways. What makes those words interesting is that this isn't really a violent film, and it mainly takes place in one big room. "Hell's Kitchen" is dialog-driven, so writing that it's fast-paced is a huge compliment. A dialog-driven movie that races across your screen is an amazing feat - one that can only be accomplished with an excellent cast and some really talented people behind the lens. My one complaint is that I wish it were longer. Would I recommend this film? Damn right I would - it was a blast to watch and in the end, that's all that really matters.