The Underground (1997)

`The Underground’ has a simple plot about a detective on a case of a trio of guys that wear Abraham Lincoln masks as they murder up and coming rap stars. The rap stars all have a connection to a shady record producer, and Fahey and his partner are talking to the producer, nicknamed `The Hound,’ when the killers strike. A rapper, a production crew, and Fahey’s partner are left dead. Fahey gets a new partner, played by Michael McFall, and the two of them must adjust to each other before tracking down the killers. This doesn’t sound like much, but it is much better than I have described. See, the killers are a former disco group from the 1970’s called Las Vegas Disco Express. The Hound used to be a member, and recently used some of their old music in new rap music with a process known as `sampling.’ The remaining Las Vegas Disco Express members are not pleased, and want to be reimbursed. I personally hate rap and disco, and I had the feeling that the makers of the movie shared my feeling on rap, mainly that rap artists that use sampling are wrongfully stealing from other (better) artists and have no real creativity themselves. The idea that disco artists were bumping off rap artists just seemed funny to me. Sorry, rap fans. In addition to this, there are also a couple of exciting car chase scenes that are done way better than the ones in many big budget movies. I felt they were very realistic thanks to the way director Cole S. McKay handled them. McKay also handled the scenes between Fahey and McFall well. The two actors have routine roles and they boost them above that blandness so that you love to watch them.

Unfortunately, the movie has a set of flaws, and they hurt the film badly. The first is the tired cliché of the detective’s wife that can’t cope with the detective’s job. The scenes rightfully establish that Fahey has a life outside his job, but I wish they had come up with something better than that. Fahey’s screen wife is Debbie James, whose film highlight is starring in `976-EVIL 2.’ As his model-wife, she is lifeless. Another annoying problem is numerous times where someone will announce an incorrect body count. There are two shootouts where many people are left dead, but the dialogue only admits the deaths of the important characters. Flaw three is a big SPOILER, so don’t go on if you are going to see it. It involved the ending, which ends too soon. The film abandons the fate of two of the three Las Vegas Disco Express members. It just stops without resolving that issue or even the issue of Fahey and his wife. It’s too bad, because the movie is good otherwise, and I would have rated it higher.