Kuffs is a 1992 American action comedy film directed by Bruce A. Evans and produced by Raynold Gideon. It stars Christian Slater and Tony Goldwyn. The film includes Milla Jovovich in her third feature film and Ashley Judd in her film debut. The film was written directly for the screen by Evans and Gideon, both of whom had Slater in mind for the title role. The original music score is by Harold Faltermeyer. The film is set in, and was filmed around, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, in 1991. It involves a type of law enforcement unique to San Francisco: the Patrol Special police franchises.
The theatrical release poster for Kuffs
|Directed by||Bruce A. Evans|
|Produced by||Raynold Gideon|
|Music by||Harold Faltermeyer|
|Cinematography||Thomas Del Ruth|
|Edited by||Stephen Semel|
|Distributed by||Universal Studios|
|Box office||$21.1 million|
George Kuffs, an irresponsible 21-year-old high school dropout from San Francisco, has walked out on his pregnant girlfriend Maya. Having lost his job and with no other prospects, George visits his brother, Brad, to ask for money. Brad serves as an officer in the San Francisco Patrol Special Police, a civilian auxiliary police unit that has potential officers assign themselves specific areas and work on a for-hire basis. Brad, unwilling to loan George any money, suggests George join him as a Patrol Special in the district he owns and work under him. Before George can decide on accepting the offer, Brad is shot by a man named Kane, whom George sees holding the gun. Kane drops the gun and nonchalantly walks away from the scene, and Brad is rushed to the hospital.
George is brought in for a lineup where he identifies Kane as the shooter, but the police are forced to release him because George did not actually see Kane fire the gun, who had worn gloves to prevent fingerprints. Shortly after, George is told by Captain Morino, a friend of Brad's, that Brad died from his injuries and that George has been bequeathed Brad's district. Local businessman Sam Jones tries to purchase the district so he can control it, but George decides to keep it and train to be a police officer. Seen as unskilled and rude, George draws the mocking of his fellow Patrol Specials and the ire of Officer Ted Bukowsky -a police liaison who has been assigned to work with the Patrol Specials as punishment for having an affair with the police chief's wife. George spikes Ted's coffee with sleeping pills while on duty, resulting in Ted getting suspended.
After George is shot and wounded by a suicidal writer, his life begins to improve. He cracks a criminal enterprise run out of a Chinese dry cleaner (run by Jones), gaining respect and admiration from his fellow officers, and also reconnects with Maya. George gets justice for his brother's murder by killing Kane (in self-defense) during a failed ambush in George's apartment. His joy is short lived, however; Jones gives George's high school transcript to the Patrol Specials -proving George is ineligible to be a police officer because he never graduated- and declares he will take control of the district.
George does not stop tracking Jones and seeks out the still-suspended Ted for help. They wind up in a massive rooftop shootout with Jones' goons and are eventually joined by the rest of the police unit. George corners Jones in the lowest level of a parking garage and fatally shoots him in self-defense.
George marries Maya and becomes the proud father of a baby girl named Sarah. At Maya's suggestion, he took the high school equivalency exam and passed, allowing him to continue working as an officer. He also took out a loan to expand his brother's district.
Slater said he took the role in part because he wanted to avoid doing accents or worrying about historical accuracy, as in his previous two roles. Because of his popularity as a teen idol, Slater said he was asked to do a scene in his underwear. He refused, saying that it was too gratuitous.
Kuffs was released in the United States on January 10, 1992. It opened in fifth place and grossed $5.7 million in its opening weekend. The final US gross was $21.1 million. Kuffs continued an 18-month dry spell for Universal Pictures in which they did not score a hit. The film's theatrical poster, which depicts Slater smiling and holding a pistol, was compared to that of Juice's poster, which Paramount Pictures airbrushed to remove a pistol. Further comparisons between the films led Richard Harrington of The Washington Post to question whether racism led the Motion Picture Association of America to rate Kuffs PG-13 and Juice R. Jack Valenti, president of the MPAA, denied racism had anything to do with it and said it was based solely on parental concerns. In Dallas, Texas, the regional ratings board overrode the MPAA rating with an R rating for violent content. It was released on home video in the US in June 1992.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 29% of 17 surveyed critics gave the film a positive rating; the average rating is 4.4/10. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Variety criticized the film's tone and said that it is "very reminiscent of several Eddie Murphy films". Caryn James of The New York Times wrote that the film takes itself too seriously in parts where it should have used humor, though it will appeal to teenage fans of Slater and action films. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the violent scenes make the comedic elements difficult to enjoy. Desson Howe of The Washington Post wrote, "This movie wasn't scripted. It was shoplifted." Lou Cedrone of The Baltimore Sun called it a "very good action comedy" that "sneaks up on you" with its humor. Gary Thompson of the Philadelphia Daily News rated it 2.5/4 stars and wrote the film's absurdity makes it "strangely entertaining", though it is not intelligently written enough to work as a whole. People, while acknowledging the film is not original, said that Slater carries the film. TV Guide rated it 2/4 stars and called it "one of [Slater's] best roles to date", though the film's violence and uneven tone make it "difficult to recommend to anyone but die-hard action fans".
An original soundtrack album was released in July 6, 1992, under the label Stage & Screen; the soundtrack features songs mainly by German synthpop musician Harold Faltermeyer, however, the album did not chart in America. It did not include the main theme song, a theme called "I Don't Want To Live Without You", by the American musician Gregg Tripp.
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- "Hot Christian Slater enjoys 'Kuffs' role: 'I could just relax and play the character'". The Baltimore Sun. 1992-01-13. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Dutka, Elaine (1992-07-20). "Lackluster Stretch for Universal : Movies: The studio has gone through an 18-month dry spell. There is talk, officially denied, that studio chief Tom Pollock's job is in jeopardy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
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- Harrington, Richard (1992-02-02). "A TALE OF TWO PICTURES". The Washington Post.
- Nichols, Peter M. (1992-06-18). "Home Video". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Kuffs (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 3, 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
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- "Review: 'Kuffs'". Variety. 1992. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- James, Caryn (1992-01-10). "Kuffs (1992)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Thomas, Kevin (1992-01-10). "MOVIE REVIEW : Handcuffed by a Lack of Credibility". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Howe, Desson (1992-01-10). "SLATER, 'KUFFS' NOT GRIPPING". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Cedrone, Lou (1992-01-13). "'Kuffs' is a very good action comedy, and it's full of surprises". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Thompson, Gary (1992-01-11). "Action 'Kuffs' Shoots Itself Silly". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Rozen, Leah; Goodman, Mark (1992-01-27). "Picks and Pans Review: Kuffs". People. 37 (3). Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Kuffs". TV Guide. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Allmusic: Original Soundtrack Kuffs". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-10-11.