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BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS

Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Coolidge, Fairuza Balk, Shawn Hatosy, Shea Whigham, Xzibit, Denzel Whitaker, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Tom Bower, Brandi Coleman, Irma P. Hall

Directed by Werner Herzog
Written by William M. Finkelstein
Nu Image Films

If you had the warped pleasure of watching scruples-deprived cop Harvey Keitel chisel, cheat, screw, masturbate, sniff, shoot, swill, and sob (particularly over the rape of a gorgeous young nun by a gang of inglourious New York basterds) in Abel Ferrara's 1992 dark, overheated "Bad Lieutenant," why would you bother to see this remake?

Maybe because the setting on this occasion is not hopelessly decadent New York, but moderately decadent New Orleans. And the auteur x-raying this infected turf is not Abel Ferrara, notorious for his bad taste, but Germany’s legendarily uncompromising Werner Herzog, director of “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” “Aguirre, The Wrath of God,” “Stroszek,” “Woyzeck” and “Fitzcarraldo.” Also, there is no nunsense on display here, only the plight of Eva Mendes as a severely put-upon prostitute.

In place of Keitel, who played the conspicuously nameless Bad Lieutenant, we get Nicolas Cage, an actor who never said no when invited to go over the top. He plays Terence McDonagh, a homicide detective who’s promoted to the rank of lieutenant after performing an uncharacteristic act of heroism during Hurricane Katrina—an act that leaves him with chronic backache. Showing symptoms of being rotten to the core, McDonagh uses his badge as a free pass to pursue relief from his pain in illegal drugs, and he is not above feeding his hunger for cocaine and Vicodin by means that are beastly at best.  For those who stand in his way, you can bet there will be blood.

Dope, alas, is not McDonagh’s only weakness. The lieutenant is also insatiably hooked on sex, which means truly hard times for the ladies of the Big Easy night, including the well-booted Eva Mendes, shown above right. Others assisting or hindering this flawed man of the law on what could be a journey to the depths of hell or to spiritual salvation are Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Coolidge, Fairuza Balk, Shawn Hatosy, Xzibit, Denzel Whitaker, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Irma P. Hall.

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