Bad Lieutenant (1992) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

Keitel plays a bad cop, a really bad cop, a lost soul. What vices are there? He has them. He ignores his family, sexually exploits hookers, takes dope from dealers instead of arresting them, shakes down criminals and lets them go, plays peeping tom with a nun, sexually exploits young girls that he stops for traffic violations, gambles, cheats the gamblers, uses crack, mainlines heroin, drinks constantly, is a racist, and calls Christ a "ratfuck" in Church.

Does that about cover it?

He simply can't grasp that a nun, raped violently on the church altar, won't identify her assailants, although she definitely knows them. She understands their pain. She has forgiven them.

Can this corrupted man find a piece of his soul in the heart of the nun?


I don't know, but in an ambiguous ending, Keitel figures out who did it, and instead of roughing them up or turning them in, he puts them safely on a bus out of town and tells them they're dead if they return. Then he sits in his car waiting for the gamblers to kill him for his outrageous debts.


Does it sound like your kind of ugly, gritty, cinema verité movie? If so, it is a good one. Roger Ebert awarded four stars and praised Harvey Keitel's performance, as well as the film's gritty realism and moral complexity.

Personally, I hate it.

  • The Lieutenant doesn't stay in character when he's dealing with the nun. If I were a cop who cuts corners, I would have found a way to make the friggin' nun understand that the fact of her having forgiven the rapists is not relevant to whether she should turn them in. I would have taken her to the morgue and shown her a dead 12 year old girl and told her that the girl seems to have been brutally raped and killed by the same guys, and that the nun could have prevented it by turning the guys right in. And then I'd tell her that left behind a note saying they plan to rape and torture a virgin every day. And then I would have said, "do you know who raped and killed that girl? Not those deranged monsters who have no control over their impulses, sister, but you. You did this to her by leaving them on the streets. You may forgive them, sister, but this little girl's parents aren't ready to forgive you."  And then, for emphasis, I would stress that the upcoming crimes are expected to happen in the neighborhood where the nun's nieces and little sisters live, on the streets where they play with their puppies. It would have all been lies on my part, but completely in character for the Keitel cop, and those lies would have made the nun sing like Sister Sourire.
  • Talk about slow pacing. This movie is only 96 minutes long, and could be cut by another 20 minutes without losing anything. Literally. There must be ten full minutes of explicitly detailed drug use, and another ten of Keitel nodding off on camera. If you don't know how to use the latest drugs (well, in 1992, anyway), here's where you can get some tips. These scenes drag on and on and on pointlessly. I drifted off to sleep a couple times watching this, but if nodding off is your favorite spectator sport, this movie is your Superbowl.
  • Yes, Keitel's performance is as good as everyone has said, but so what? Are you going to watch a movie to see a demonstration of acting technique?
  • Yes, the action has the gritty feel of complete realism, like one of those real-life cop shows. So give director Abel Herrera an A for technique, but watch something else.






  • Frankie Thorn and Harvey Keitel: full-frontal nudity

  • Joseph Michael Cruz: bum

  • Bianca Bakija: bum

  • Victoria Bastell: breasts

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus:  no consensus. James Berardinelli disliked it at 2/4, Roger Ebert praised it lavishly and awarded 4/4


The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed $2 million - which is actually not bad for a film rated NC-17. It is actually in the All-Time Top 10
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C. It's a solid film of its type but despite Keitel and some good reviews, it's basically nothing more than a grade-B Scorsese wannabe with none of the master's flair.

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