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The Star Chamber (Bilingual) [Import]
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When crime on the street gets out of hand, a group of socially prominent men form a vigilante squad. Michael Douglas is chilling.
Top Customer Reviews
Although an imperfect film, I thought it did a good job of being fair to both sides of the argument (just like the film "Magnum Force"), being unusually free of the usual liberal Hollywood bias.
The criminal justice system will always be flawed, because human beings are flawed, they still make mistakes even when they try their best. But let's face it, even though the standard is supposed to be "proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," day after day after day suave defense attorneys bamboozle sheepish jurors into a standard of "beyond the shadow of a doubt." Many defense attorneys often don't try cases -- they try causes. They ask the jury not to render a verdict based on the evidence or the facts of the case at hand, but instead based on how they feel about some social or political issue that they claim is the REAL reason why their client was charged. Time and again, judges, jurors, prosecutors, police and the public are asked to gouge their own eyes out and lobotomize themsleves into ignoring clear evidence of guilt -- even when it proves guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt -- because of some highly unlikely technical interpretation and misapplication of the letter of the law in order to violate its spirit. To many defense lawyers, the term "intellectual honesty" is an oxymoron.... (If you doubt anything in this paragraph, then you've obviously never heard of the OJ Simpson case.)
It is easy to understand Michael Douglas' frustrations as a judge.Read more ›
But he gets a look into this Star Chamber cabal from his mentor (Hal Holbrook, good as ever), where he and seven other judges, plus Douglas now, pass judgment on and later find and execute the criminals. In essence, this Star Chamber consists of judges so fed up with the System that they resort to vigilantism. Douglas, however, doesn't see this particular cabal as the answer, and he has to struggle with this dichotomy.
In a twisted sort of way, this seems like the 1973 Dirty Harry film MAGNUM FORCE as reimagined by John Grisham (though this was years before Grisham was ever widely known). But I think the film, though imperfect in places, makes it clear that a private cabal of judges deciding on the violent punishment of criminals who slip through on technicalities is no better (and realistically far worse) than a flawed prosecution in a real court of law. We may think the justice system is slanted so heavily in favor of the criminals, but that's only because that one day, through some weird twists of fate, we too may find ourselves in the position of the criminals.
Douglas and Holbrook are well-matched here, and Hyams' direction, aided by his co-screenwriter Roderick Taylor, brings out some good points in a somewhat flawed but otherwise well-done courtroom drama that is in need of a revival.
Most recent customer reviews
I saw this movie a long time ago and still remember it well. A group of judges, dissatisfied with the system that can let a dangerous criminal walk due to a technicality, decide... Read morePublished on Dec 22 2003 by Michael A. Newman
I remember catching this film on Showtime or Cinemax, one boring weekday evening, and being captured by the cinematography, lighting, mood, etc.. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2003 by Amir W. Saeed
i really like this better than any of michael douglas' performances. he desreved an award for this rather than WALL STREET. i found it more suspenseful than FATAL ATTRACTION. Read morePublished on July 14 2002
Its been almost 20 years since this movie came out and it has all but been forgotten about. It is one of my all time favorites in that it stretches your thinking from the very... Read morePublished on March 15 2001 by William J Skillender
Judge Hardin (michael Douglas)gets frustrated after he can't proscecute two suspect in a brutal childmurder . Read morePublished on June 20 2000 by Silver
When discussing Michael Douglas films, this one rarely pops up. Why? That's what you'll ask after seeing this excellent performance. An intriguing plot that draws you in. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 1999
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