Action Heroes – Willis: Color Of Night


Of all the retrospectives I have done for Filmwerk over the last few months, Color Of Night (yes it uses the american spelling) is among by far the most surprising. As this Action Heroes retrospective is now well and truly underway this is probably the least action packed among our writers extensive list. It’s also the least homo-erotic (as it is just plain erotic) but more twisted of the bunch.

This film has a strange history with me, as a young boy I would stare at the VHS cover and wonder, why Bruce Willis wasn’t wearing a vest? But even at a young age I knew this was a rather naughty ‘grown-up’ film and one I was expressly forbidden to watch by the number one Willis fan in my family, in this case my father. In the following years we have since laughed and joked about how utterly naff this film is and it is just that.

After watching this sexual thriller late one night a few years ago, I can honestly say certain scenes and images have since stayed with me (some of which I really wish would not). For a Bruce Willis film it’s utterly boring and just by doing some minuscule internet trawling shows it received a Worst Picture award from the much decorated Raspberry Awards.

I almost forgot to detail the plot; well it concerns a lot of intertwining plot strands, multiple personality disorders and a rather uncomfortable dose of explicit sex scenes. Bill Capa is a psychoanalyst living in New York. After witnessing the death of one of his patents he beings to suffer from depression. Finally deciding to bring himself out of his slump, he heads to a therapist friend in Los Angeles. His friend is subsequently murdered and Capa is inclined to believe it is one of his friend’s patients.

When it’s not assaulting your brain with its ham-fisted narrative structure (which to its credit does pay off in the end but takes a little too long to get to its conclusion) it is abusing your eyes with the sex sequences. Very few film fans would want to see Bruce’s little Bruce on screen for prolonged periods of time.

I am well aware that was probably the worst description for the films plot, but in all honesty that will be all that is remembered after watching it. You will even forget it contains two underused (and might I add quality) character actors in the shape of Lance Henriksen and Brad (the voice of Chucky from Childs Play) Dourif. Even Mr Quantum Leap himself Scott Bakula arrives at the start, only to make a swift exit (Maybe he is leaping to his next assignment?).

It also has not aged very well at all, for some unknown reason this film (although it was released in ‘94) feels more decidedly 80s in tone than most 80s films. For fans of the dirty vested one this is possibly his second worst film (the highest honor goes to Breakfast Of Champions, although The Whole Ten Yards is not far off), while it finally wakes up towards the last 20 minutes with a climax that feels like the ending to a gritty cop drama. It’s an enjoyable conclusion but it feels utterly different in both style and direction to the rest of the film.

To its credit, it is amazingly violent as one of the lead characters has her hands stuck to a chair with 6 inch nails. Finally it became interesting. It also contains a few strangely intriguing concepts such as having Capa suffering from psychosomatic colour blindness, which stops him from seeing the colour red. Unfortunately all it does is help to bring the film to a neatly tied up conclusion. The main reason this film will be remembered is purely down to the almost pornographic sex sequences (particularly the embarrassing swimming pool sex sequence). That and the fact (as I have already mentioned before) Willis’s wang waves in front of your eyes once too often.

Brucie baby please stick to bloodied feet and dirty vests in future, it makes for much more interesting and fun filmmaking. Now if you don’t mind I am going to wash my eyes out with soap and hopefully get rid of some of this films imagery.

Dominic O’Brien

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