They say January is a dumping ground for movies. January 1997 might prove the theory correct. There were 18 movies released in January 1997. Seventeen original movies and one Blockbuster re-release.
Of the original movies released very few saw success at the box office. Let’s take a look at what January 1997 had to offer.
Movies From January 1997
Jackie Chan’s First Strike
Jackie Chan was introduced to mainstream American movie goers in Rumble in the Bronx, in early 1996. The success of Rumble in the Bronx prompted Dimension Films to buy the rights to Chan’s movie Supercop (Police Story 3).
Rumble in the Bronx hit American theaters in February 1996, Supercop hit theaters in July 1996.
Jackie Chan’s next movie Police Story 4: First Strike (known in America as Jackie Chan’s First Strike) was the third Chan movie released in North American theaters.
I was at the theater the first weekend to see this movie. After watching numerous bootleg Jackie Chan movies, seeing him in the theater with properly dubbed dialog was fantastic.
In First Strike, Chan tries to stop a criminal from getting and using nuclear weapons. While Chan is the star of the movie, the real star are the fight scenes. Chan is a master fight choreographer and it shows on the screen. Every punch, kick and flip is front and center.
Watch one of Chan’s American produced movies, like Rush Hour and then watch a Chinese produced movie. There is a night and day difference in the fight scenes.
You can watch Jackie Chan’s First Strike on Hoopla Digital. Hoopla is a free service, all you need to sign-up is a library card.
You can watch Police Story and Police Story 2 on HBO Max. Both are excellent.
Star Wars Special Edition
I love Star Wars!!
I saw the original movie multiple times in the theater. It was a fantastic journey every time I saw it.
When the movies were re-released in 1997 I was in line and ready to see them. I owned a copy of the original trilogy on VHS but there was something magical about seeing the movies on the big screen.
The Special Edition introduced an entirely new generation to the Star Wars films. For long time fans it offered a better picture and better sound.
For the most part fans weren’t disappointed with the Special Edition release. The film was digitally remastered and some of the scenes were altered. The altered scenes is were the trouble lies.
There was a scene added with Han Solo meeting Jabba the Hutt as well as some minor changes to the scenery on Tatooine. The scene that caused the biggest issue, and still does to this day, is the scene with Han Solo and Greddo in the Cantina.
In the original version of the film during the scene Han Solo shoots Greedo while they are talking. In the Special Edition Greedo shots at Han Solo first and then Han shoots him in self defense. It’s a bad change and should never have happened.
There are now two types of people in the world those who believe Han Solo shot first and those who are wrong!
I saw this movie opening weekend. What’s not to like, mysterious relic from the depths of the jungle arrives at a museum and people start dying. As the mystery unravels throughout the movie you think you have it solved. But there’s a twist. And it’s a good one.
Penelope Ann Miller stars as the museum scientist trying to solve the riddle of the relic. Tom Sizemore is the police detective investigating the murders. Linda Hunt plays the museum curator. Miller and Hunt starred in Kindergarten Cop together.
The Relic is a good suspenseful, horror movie. If you like solving the mystery along with movie you’ll like The Relic.
You can stream The Relic on MaxGo.
I saw this one in the theater opening weekend too. Same weekend as The Relic in fact.
It’s an OK movie. US Marshals are transporting two prisoners to a new prison. One of the prisoners is a serial killer played by Ray Liotta. Lauren Holly is a flight attendant on the same plane.
The other prisoner frees himself and tries to take over the plane. It has the same old airplane movie tropes. Gun shot puts a hole in the fuselage, pilot ends up dead, flight attendant has to save the day.
I enjoyed the movie for what it is, a high flying action movie.
If you only watch one airplane hijacking movie from 1997, wait until later in the year and watch Air Force One.
If you’re a fan of Lauren Holly you can stream Turbulence on Starz.
Beverly Hills Ninja
I’m a huge martial arts movie fan. I also love Chris Farley movies. Putting the two together is a sure fire way to get me in the theater.
Farley’s character Haru, was found by a clan of ninjas as a baby and raised as a ninja. His first ninja mission is in Beverly Hills to investigate a murder. Once there hilarity ensues.
Farley’s SNL cast-mate Chris Rock is also in the movie.
If you like Chris Farley, you’ll enjoy this movie. It’s full of Farley’s signature physical and over the top comedy. It’s everything you’d except from a Farley movie. I liked it back then and I still like it.
Beverly Hills Ninja did OK at the Box Office pulling in $31.5 million, but was panned by the critics.
Unfortunately this was one of the last movies for Chris Farley. He died in December 1997 at the age of 33. Almost Heroes starring Farley and Matthew Perry was filmed prior to his death and released in May 1998.
I didn’t see this one in the theater, it was a rental.
It’s a buddy cop movie starring Eddie Murphy and Michael Rapaport. I’m a big fan of Murphy. I’ve seen a couple of movies with Rapaport, but not many.
Metro is a formulaic buddy cop movie that misses the mark. Murphy wanted to play a more serious role when he took this film. But his character comes off like a loud, unfunny, Axel Foley.The chemistry between Murphy and Rapaport doesn’t work either.
If you want to watch a good buddy cop movie with Murphy check out 48 Hrs or Beverly Hills Cop. Both are much better than Metro.
This stars the same great cast as 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda; John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin. Fierce Creatures isn’t a sequel to the 1988 film; more like a distant cousin. The cast even play characters similar to their roles in Wanda.
Curtis agrees to run a struggling zoo and Cleese is the new director who implements a new ‘fierce creature’ policy to attract more visitors. The zookeepers rebel to try and save the non-fierce creatures.
There are funny moments in this movie. And if you like Monty Python the other cast members make appearances throughout the movie. If you don’t know, Cleese and Palin are founding members of Monty Python.
A Fish Called Wanda was a smash hit making over $180 million at the Box Office. Fierce Creatures didn’t see the same success, making only $40 million.
If you missed it, you can stream Fierce Creatures on The Roku Channel. A Fish Called Wanda is streaming on Pluto TV. If you need a primer on Monty Python, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is streaming on Netlifx.
This is an underrated movie. I rented this one weekend and I still don’t know why. I’m glad I did.
The movie was a box office bomb, barely making over $500,000. It’s much better than the box office numbers would have you believe.
Prefontaine, starring Jared Leto (in his first starring role), R. Lee Ermey and Ed O’Neill tells the story of 1970’s track star and Olympian Steve Prefontaine.
It’s covers his time in college, his rise to greatness on the track, his Olympic achievements and his fight for the rights of Olympic athletes. It’s a great movie.
Gridlock’d is a dark comedy starring Tim Roth and Tupac Shakur. This was another rental, actually my sister rented it.
Spoon (Shakur) and Stretch (Roth) are in a band with Cookie, played by Thandie Newton. When Cookie OD’s on drugs the two decided to kick the habit and enter rehab.
The movie is their plight trying to avoid the police and enter rehab while getting blocked by bureaucratic red tape.
Roth is good playing crazy characters in dark comedies. He doesn’t disappoint in this one. Shakur was a good actor and this may be his best role. Unfortunately this was one of Shakur’s last roles.
Tupac Shakur was shoot and killed in Las Vegas on 13 September 1996, four months before the movie’s debut. Shakur will have one more posthumous movie release in October 1997.
Gridlock’d debuted at #9 on opening weekend and quickly faded away. If you can find it anywhere it’s a decent movie and worth watching.
Meet Wally Sparks
Oh Rodney Dangerfield, the man gets no respect. Movies like this won’t help.
In 1997 Dangerfield was coming off his portrayal of an abusive, incestuous father in Natural Born Killers and a bad comedy Ladybugs. You could argue his last good movie was Back to School in 1986.
Meet Wally Sparks is another bad movie. Dangerfield plays Wally Sparks who is a sleazy TV talk show host. Think Morton Downey Jr, or early Jerry Springer.
Sparks ratings are tanking and he needs to draw in more viewers. His producer comes up with an idea to have the governor on his show. Sparks then goes to the governors mansion and it’s one bad joke after and other mixed in with lots of sexual innuendos.
The whole thing is a mess. Go watch Caddyshack or Back to School instead.
If you’re glutton for punishment you can watch Meet Wally Sparks on The Roku Channel.
This is my kind of movie. Political conspiracy thriller filled with twists and turns and shadow figures. The star studded cast alone says it will be blockbuster.
Shadow Conspiracy stars Charlie Sheen, Donald Sutherland, Linda Hamilton, Ben Gazzara, Sam Waterston, Terry O’Quinn and Paul Gleason.
It was directed by George P. Cosmatos who previously directed Rambo, Cobra, Leviathan and Tombstone, all great movies.
With all the star power this movie should have been a hit from the start. It wasn’t. This movie started with a fizzle and was a box office disaster.
With a budget of $45 million Shadow Conspiracy made $2.3 million at the box office.
Shadow Conspiracy missed the mark. There are better political thrillers, skip this one.
Other movies released in January 1997
Here are the rest of the movies released in January 1997. I didn’t see them in 1997 and still haven’t seen them.
If you’ve seen them let me know what I’m missing.
That’s a look back at the movies from January 1997. There were some good movies to watch and some really bad ones to skip.
With the re-release of Star Wars you were guaranteed at least one good movie night in January 1997. Jackie Chan’s First Strike, The Relic and Beverly Hills Ninja were also good choices.
February 1997 offers more movies than January. Are they any good? Stay tuned.
Have you seen any of the movie from January 1997? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.
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Next week we’ll look at February 1982.
Until then the balcony is closed.