In 1979, The Warriors sparked a resurgence in juvenile gang movies- a genre that was goddamn massive in the ’50s. Back then, the delinquents tended to be greasers or beach party animals with rockin’ bodies. This was simply because that’s what teenagers got off on back then. Come the ’80s and adults were afraid of a punk planet ruled by flamboyantly dressed urban gangs. Hence, the delinquents in films became punks and an assortment of exaggerated stereotypes. Chains and bandanas were everywhere. Sometimes the depictions were more accurate, like in The Outsiders, but for every Pony Boy there were five Baseball Furies.
Larry Gross (best known for writing 48 Hrs) directed one of the lesser known films in this genre: 3:15 - The Moment of Truth (1986). Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Full Metal Jacket) stars as Jeff Hannah, an ex-gang member who got out of the life after watching a guy get murdered at a hamburger stand. He was in the Cobras, a leather-clad gang who have turned the local high school into a drug market. Their led by Cinco, a testy bastard who carries a switchblade. He must take that blade out like 30 times during the movie, I swear.
A year goes by and Jeff does his best to stay out of the Cobras’ way. Then a drug dragnet at the school leads to Cinco getting busted. When he’s fleeing from the cops, he runs into Jeff, who refuses to take the fall for him. Honestly Cinco, why the hell would Jeff (who left the gang because you’re a psychotic asshole) do you any favors? Moron. So Cinco and the other Cobras vow to get vengeance on Jeff…after school at 3:15.
Jeff’s reluctant to fight, but then some female Cobras go after his girlfriend and he erupts into a wrecking ball of revenge. He starts taking out the Cobras one by one and it’s awesome. Adam Baldwin starts throwing dudes outta windows, punching their heads through glass, the whole nine. What’s great too is that typically during comeuppance scenes, exciting or thrilling music will play over the violence. In 3:15, as Jeff is punching everyone in the face, this bombastic, triumphant music plays – like he just won the Tour de France or something. It made me pump my fist along with Jeff’s reign of haymakers.
There’s a bunch of fun cameos too. Gina Gershon plays one of the female Cobras (above picture, second from left). Mario Van Peebles plays the leader of the militant black gang. And John Doe from X gets kicked out of a punk club. He’s credited as “drunk guy at club” and as he’s getting tossed out he tells the bouncer he has a “soft heart.” Wings Hauser is up in this bitch too.
Besides the militant black gang (who wear berets and army vests over rippling muscles), there’s also a gang of Asians who practice martial arts in a dojo littered with graffiti. The blacks and the Asians are all down with Jeff, but because of unwritten gang code they can’t help him fight against the Cobras. He doesn’t need the help though. He’s a goddamn one man army.
Baldwin (who similarly took on bullies in 1980′s My Bodyguard) is great as a youth boiling over with quiet rage. It’s no wonder he’s always punching people in movies. Overall 3:15 is one of the better ’80s teen gang hormone movies. It’s gritty, has some fun teen language, and doesn’t shy away from violence. It’s only available on VHS, but you can obviously watch the whole thing on YouTube.- Patrick Cooper