Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

Broken Angel (1988)

by  |  May 19th, 2011  |  Drama

The gangs in movies are an interesting monster… Some times they are portrayed as Monsters of the worst kind who would just as soon slit your throat over next to nothing, an example of this is the gang that was controlled by Denis Leary in Judgment Night (1993).

In Judgment Night, Denis Leary and his gang attempt to kill another gang member who ultimately escapes and winds up in the RV of a couple of middle class guys (played by: Emilio Estevez, Stephen Dorff, Jeremy Piven and Cuba Gooding Jr.) This gang decides to stop at nothing to execute everyone, the escaped gang member who is near death, as well as the middle class guys who have never even seen Denis Leary’s character or any one from the gang.

Almost all gangs tend though to be portrayed as a tightly knit almost tribal family that generally do harm as in the example above… And all though that generally is true, that is not always true as in the example of Class Of 1999 (1990) when two warring gangs unite together to fight a common enemy in a group cyborgs who take their job of handling the gangs in Schools a little to far!

With this in mind, and being a huge fan of Star Trek and in particular, William Shatner; I decided one night to search for a fun Shatner movie that I could sink my teeth in to… Little did I know that I was going to be stumbling on to an immensely powerful, made for TV movie, called Broken Angel

Written by: Cynthia A. Cherbak (Lucy And Desi: Before The Laughter) and Directed by: Richard T. Heffron (No Greater Love) and starring William Shatner (The Babysitter), Susan Blakely (The Towering Inferno), Jason Horst (This Boys Life), Brock Peters (To Kill A Mockingbird), Roxann Dawson (Jesus The Driver) and Erika Eleniak (Bordello Of Blood)

Broken Angel tells the story of a family that is living a lie, and through tragedy ultimately truly find the bonds that matters…

What do I mean by this?

Well the story is about the Coburn family, a middle class suburban family from the LA suburbs.  On the outside this family looks like a close knit American dream style family, with Chuck Coburn(Shatner), the father, husband and business man who runs his own business, plays Poker on Thursdays and plays Golf on Sundays.  Catherine (Blakely) is the wife and mother of the family and is a successful real estate agent. They have two kids, their son being Drew (Horst) your classic good son, an artist who doesn’t seem to ever get in to trouble. Their daughter and their eldest child being Jamie (Eleniak) she has good grades, a good boy friend, she is on the fast track toward ivy league and the life that comes with it…

The Coburn Family: From left Drew Coburn (Horst), Chuck Coburn (Shatner), Catherine Coburn (Blakely) and Jaime Coburn (Eleniak)

That is just their out ward appearance…

Internally, Catherine and Chuck are having marital problems that ultimately leads them to both be to busy doing what they do. They’re children both use drugs, with Drew going to underground clubs regularly, and Jamie, who is a member of one of the most violent Los Angeles gangs (Her gang name being Shadow.)

Now the story itself starts off with Chuck and Catherine ending off their work days and coming home.  When they get home they start preparing dinner.  During this time Drew is sitting in his room painting and listening to really loud music, and Jamie is in her room with her friend Jenny (Played by: Amy Lynne).  Both Jamie and Jenny are getting ready for their senior prom and are smoking a little pot before getting picked up.

Jamie (Eleniak) and Jenny (Lynne) as they are getting ready for their Prom.

When they finally do get down stairs to meet their dates, it is the seemingly apparent usual hustle and bustle of a normal family doing normal family things in the late 80s, such as Drew and Chuck arguing politics, and Catherine getting dinner ready for everyone.  During this time Jamie goes up to Chuck to ask about how late she can stay out. Chuck being the proud father, gives the usually father/daughter speech to Jamie (It is never explained rather or not she actually ends up having the talk or not.) After this, the boyfriends show up to pick up both Jamie and Jenny to go to their prom.

Now that the tux wearing boyfriends and their prom dress wearing girl friends have left, the fabric of the nice middle class facade begins to drop… In the house we come to discover about Catherine’s affair, and in the limo, one of the boys opens up his coat and un covers all sorts of pill bottles full of Narcotics.  During this time, Jamie pulls out a marijuana joint and starts smoking it.

During the prom though is when things really begin to get interesting.  You see it is there where Jamie tells Jenny about her fears for her boyfriend ‘Rocket’ who has a contract on his head by the leader of a rival gang that wishes Rocket dead… Jenny comforts her till she is calm and collected again.  After this Jamie goes to talk to Rocket about her fears as well…

Her fears become realized though while they are all waiting outside the Hotel for their ride.  During this time that same rival gang pulls a daring drive by that ultimately ends up murdering Jenny.

Now we cut back to the Coburn house, which is woken up by the arrival of the Police.  The devastated Coburn’s end up going with the Police down to the Station to identify the body… Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view) Jamie is not on the slab (Jenny is).

Now with Jamie still missing it is up to a scared Chuck to keep his family together; and along with Sgt. Mercurio (Peters), and a Gang activist by the name of Shakti (Dawson) to find Jamie and either bring her home alive and safe or to lay her soul to rest…

Shakti (Dawson) and Chuck Coburn (Shatner) on the hunt for Chuck's Daughter Jamie

Now what I liked about this movie, and what I really think makes this an awesome B Movie is a couple of things:

1. This movie has a very powerful message in it, about the changing dynamic of what the middle class family was beginning to really have to worry about in a time when not only was doing drugs romanticized but was made very popular by a majority of the pop culture of the 80s and 90s… It also sent a message that if you didn’t include your children and their lives and interests in your busy schedule, that they could very well sink in to that drugged out culture!

2. Another thing that I really liked about this movie was the cast.  First off I found it to be eminently fascinating that as a Trek fan, that actors from 3 different Star Trek series came together for this movie before 2 of them had been made! These actors are William Shatner (Who played James T. Kirk on Star Trek: The Original Series), Brock Peters (Who played Admiral Cartwright in the movies, and Joseph Sisko in Star Trek Deep Space 9) and Roxann Dawson who played (Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres in Star Trek Voyager). The other thing that I found was cool was being able to see a young Erika Eleniak in this movie (I have been a fan of hers for decades!) The other person that I thought was worth a mention here, is some one that ABM has recently had the opportunity to meet, ‘Al Leong.’  Also for you Nightmare on Elm Street fans, you guys should enjoy the cameo that Rodney Eastman has in the movie!  All the rest of the cast in this movie are pretty solid, but the ones that I mentioned here are the ones that have been the most impactful for me.

William Shatner (Star Trek) and Rodney Eastman (A Nightmare On Elm Street's 3 and 4) in Broken Angel.

This movie is actually so great in the message that it conveys (albeit a kind of sadly endearing one), that I highly recommend for people to watch, because not only is it just an all around great film, but some people might actually learn something from it!

Unfortunately there is no trailer available for this movie, but I thought that you might enjoy this TV Spot for The Babysitter (1980). A Drama/Thriller which also stars William Shatner.

Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.

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