Sharky (Burt Reynolds) is a decorated narcotics detective who gets demoted down to the vice squad after a citizen accidentally gets shot during a botched bust. Sharky quickly finds his way onto a case involving a $1,000 a night hooker named Dominoe (Rachel Ward) whose client is a shady senator (Earl Holliman). He sets up a stakeout where he watches her apartment around the clock and while spying on her, Sharky inevitably falls in love with her. Sharky then aims to protect Dominoe from both her slimy pimp AND a psychotic killer.
Reynolds was also behind the camera for this hard-boiled crime drama based on the novel by William Diehl. The film is overlong and moves at a deliberate pace but Reynolds is excellent. Around this time he was doing all those Cannonball Run movies where he basically played himself, so this must have been a nice change of pace for him to have such a meaty role. He’s great in the scenes where he’s watching Ward from afar and you can genuinely see him aching for her, especially when she’s bedding down other men.
Ward is pretty good at the object of Sharky’s affection and Henry Silva is awesome as the heroin snorting killer with a serious grudge against prostitutes. The supporting cast including Charles Durning, Brian Keith and Bernie Casey all hit their marks effectively and provide fine back-up for Burt.
After a promising start, things get deadly dull as soon as Burt starts romancing Rachel. The scenes where Burt and Rachel watch kids playing are about as saccharine as you can get in a motion picture. These scenes are at odds with the rest of the flick and stick out like a sore thumb.
Speaking of painful appendages, there is one harrowing scene where a dirty cop cuts Sharky’s fingers off one by one that will have you squirming in your seats. Burt even CRIES during it, which again just shows his acting chops even more. Had the flick had a couple more scenes like this, one or two more shootouts and an extra random ass ninja attack, it might have been one of Burt’s best. As it is, it’s close but no cigar.
Diehl also has a cameo as a pimp.