As I drifted through my teenage years in the 1980s, there was pretty much nothing I loved more than action movies. It was a decade full of genre defining action, from the vast catalog of films from Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude van Damme to the slew of ninja films and direct to VHS action flicks that filled the shelves of my local rental store. Once in a while I would stumble upon a real gem and in 1988 I found one such film called Cohen and Tate. And now thanks to the efforts of Shout Factory, it is available in all its original glory for legions of people to rediscover or discover for the first time.
Roy Scheider is Cohen, an old school, hard as nails hitman who likes to do things the old fashioned way. Organized, clean and precise. Adam Baldwin is Tate, a young, brash new school hitman who is everything Cohen is not. Hot headed, impulsive and willing to take down everything and anyone who get in his way. Now they have been assigned to work together and bring a kidnapped boy to their bosses. But Travis Knight (Harley Cross) is no ordinary boy. Resourceful and smart, Travis uses his cunning to play the two killers against each other in an attempt to eventually save himself. And with two men as opposite as Cohen and Tate, it may be easier than he thought.
Cohen and Tate is pure 80s gleeful action. First up is the cast. Roy Scheider is one of the most underrated actors ever and he is excellent here as the cold as ice Cohen. He is all business and plays off Baldwin’s eruptive Tate so well. Baldwin is all menace and evil as the uncontrollable Tate. He is the short fuse that could make everything go up in flames at any moment. The real show stealer here is Harley Cross as the boy Travis Knight. He is one of those child actors that comes across as genuine and compelling instead of snooty and adult-like. His performance here is what keeps the whole movie believable and acts as the catalyst for the entire story. The chemistry between these three leads is one of the things that really elevates Cohen and Tate above typical genre flicks. The other important element is that the film is written and directed by the underappreciated Eric Red. Red is responsible for a handful of my favorite cult films from the genre. Red wrote The Hitcher (LOVE this film), Near Dark (one of the best vampire movies ever), Blue Steel (one of the most underrated thrillers ever) and wrote the screenplay and directed Body Parts (pure horror fun) in addition to Cohen and Tate. Red is a unique voice in the genre and should be fully recognized as such.
The Blu-ray for Cohen and Tate is a revelation for a film of this vintage. The picture is nice and clean with great clarity and detail. The look of the film is very stylish and the transfer shows that off nicely. I was surprised they got such good results from a film that is 25 years old, Cohen and Tate is not only a kick ass action film that should not be missed, but has a transfer that totally does it justice. Highly recommended.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.