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07.20.2006by: Jim Law

Top 12 Motown Movies

I may be a silly Canadian but my love for the city of Detroit goes deep. For a place that constantly gets a bad rap, I've had a lifetime of great memories. Being there on opening night for THE EVIL DEAD. Watching Hulk Hogan treat Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to the leg drop at the State Fair. Canadian money at par nights during college where the bar would give you American change. At the end of the night I was as drunk as humanly possible and ended up making money. What more can you ask of your host? Thanks Motor City, for your quality comic stores, drive-in theatres, the best team in baseball, Mickey's Malt Liquor, motherf*ckin' Kid Rock, and Stevie Y. I'm proud to be your neighbour.

12. CRIMEWAVE (1985)

If we heard that Joel and Ethan Coen wrote a screenplay for Sam Raimi to direct starring Bruce Campbell tomorrow we'd all have a celebration in our pants. Here's the thing though, it's already happened. As a follow up to THE EVIL DEAD, Raimi decided to give us this dark comedy filled with slapstick and over the top acting. It's pretty hard to find on DVD around here but Bruce's portrayal of Renaldo the Heel makes the search worth it.

11. FOUR BROTHERS (2005)

The one scene that always makes me laugh - Bad guys pay the brothers a visit in their close-knit neighbourhood and open fire on their house with semi-automatic weapons for close to ten minutes of screen time. After all the mayhem someone needs an ambulance so they start pleading for a 911 call. Up until then, I guess it was just another day in the D.

10. DETROIT ROCK CITY (1999)

It took a while but I think this film about a group of friends desperately trying to score tickets to a KISS concert has finally gotten it's well deserved cult following. It's actually surprising how funny the movie is all these years later and how awesome it was to see disco die a quick and painful death at the hands of heavy metal. If FREAKS & GEEKS ever came out with a movie, this was it.

9. BLUE COLLAR (1978)

When three friends (Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto) decide to rob their union's safe, they get more than they bargained for (pun definitely intended yo). After kick-starting his career with comedy, Pryor takes a honourable stab at drama here and with the help of a great cast, delivers one of the most realistic looks at the working man I'll ever see.

8. 8 MILE (2002)

Eminem turned a lot of heads playing the role of ..... well, himself in this "poor boy makes good" drama. I still shake my head at the spur of the moment rap battle during a break at work (when and where has this ever happened?) but the performances here are too good to forget. Just remember, Slim Shady has an Oscar and you don't.

7. HOFFA (1992)

Every five years or so, the cops over in Detroit like to pick a spot and dig for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. It's fun. Making a movie about one of the world's greatest mysteries and ending it with what you think might have happened doesn't always go over well with people and their stubborn opinions. Making a movie with Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, J.T. Walsh, and John C. Reilly is always going to be something special though and should be experienced no matter where you think the body is.

6. NARC (2002)

Why this film is so overlooked is beyond me. Is it because ridiculous gun fights are replaced with character development? Feel good cop buddies are shown as hard-nosed assholes? Fat Liotta steps in for Skinny Liotta? Whatever it is, I'm glad I finally got my hands on a copy. Ray Liotta and Jason Patric are incredible in this film as two officers looking for a cop killer in the land of illegal drugs and body work.

5. THE CROW (1994)

If you're going to go to war with the underground crime scene in Detroit, you might as well be dead already. Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) is dead - which makes him the best man for the job. A little birdie decided to bring back Eric's soul in order to exact revenge on those who killed him and his fiancÚ. Sadly, the film is haunted by the real death of Brandon Lee during production.

4. BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984)

Yes, the majority of the film is set in Beverly Hills but Eddie Murphy is Detroit in this film. His edgy, smart-assed, street approach to detective work defines not only his character but the entire Motor City in the process. I beg you to re-visit this gem if only to remember Eddie at his best. The following sequels took a turn for the worse and he hasn't been able to find that perfect role accompanied by that hard R rating since.

3. TRUE ROMANCE (1993)

If I ever do a top ten cast list, this film has to be up there. Walken, Hopper, Oldman, Pitt, Gandolfini, Sizemore, Kilmer, Penn, Arquette, and Samuel L. Jackson are all in the house. There's also lots of murder and blood, if that's your thing. Overall though, it's a love story, and there's no better place in the world to meet the woman of your dreams than a Sonny Chiba triple header in downtown Detroit. It also helps if she's a hooker.

2. OUT OF SIGHT (1998)

Before everyone in the world wanted to punch Jennifer Lopez in the neck and face region, she starred in one of the best films of the nineties. Make no mistake about it though, this is George Clooney's movie. Fresh off the disaster that was BATMAN & ROBIN, George didn't even think twice about regaining his coolness and his new best friend, Steven Soderbergh, made sure he did it right.

1. ROBOCOP (1987)

Some people might have a problem ranking ROBOCOP above movies like TRUE ROMANCE and OUT OF SIGHT. I do it without blinking. I've said it before and I'll say it again - they just don't make movies like this anymore. What looks like a comic book film geared towards kids and their non-existent attention spans is really one of the most hard core action films ever made with a fascinating lead character and relentless look at violence. Get your hands on the Criterion version if your dare.

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