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OFF LIMITS. Directed by Christopher Crowe; written by Christopher Crowe and Jack Thibeau; produced by Alan Barnette for Twentieth Century-Fox. Starring Willem Dafoe, Gregory Hines and Fred Ward. Rated R (a lot of vulgar language; violence, nudity and sexual references).


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Off Limits isn't a great movie. It isn't even terrific entertainment, at least not consistently. But its interesting story is original, maybe even unique. And the acting is first-rate. So in spite of its ragged pace and a few plot improbabilities, it's better than average cops-and-robbers fare.

McGriff (Defoe) and Perkins (Hines) are a scruffy but appealing pair of buddies, expert at their jobs as plain clothes detectives with an unusual beat—Saigon, in 1968. But they are believable as people, too. Ward is excellent as their boss, Sgt. Dix, who gives them as much latitude as he can, and tries to keep the Vietnamese out of their hair.

An interesting little sidelight to the movie is the heroes' relationship with a pretty nun, Sister Nicole (Amanda Pays), who does social work with victims and helps care for Amer-Asian children.

Given the movie's setting, its language isn't inappropriate, but there is really a lot of vulgarity. It's as if an English teacher gave a bizarre vocabulary assignment—write a story using as much objectionable language, and as few PG-rated adjectives, as possible. There is also some violence, and references to kinky sex, but Off Limits would definitely be rated R even without them.

March 23, 1988

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