Backstreet Justice (1994) from Tuna

Backstreet Justice (1994) stars Linda Kozlowski, who became famous by showing her own backstreet to Crocodile Dundee. This time around she's a low-rent private investigator who lives in a Pittsburgh slum, and has been hired to solve a string of murders which she thinks to have been committed by corrupt police officers. She has an easy time believing that dirty cops exist, as her own father seems to have been one. He died in a shootout while allegedly trying to assassinate a crime commissioner who was trying to prosecute him.

This is one tough little lady. Every time she returns home there is some cop on the roof doing some dastardly deed. She always engages with the cop, and ends up beaten but alive. As an example, she surprises a cop in her apartment. His partner knocks her out. They carry her downstairs, toss her in their trunk, and both bend over to close the lid. She kicks the lid, nailing both in the chin. Then she escapes by outrunning and out-jumping both men.  One by one, we meet characters she trusts and the characters she battles with. Don't take any of that too seriously, as most of them flip-flop in the last ten minutes.

The underlying theme is one of corruption for personal profit, which I relate to, and Pittsburgh looks wonderful, so the film is not without merit. On the other hand, there are a few logic errors in this one and the acting is inconsistent, so I found it a very long watch, even though the running time was only 91 minutes. 

The film has a very low score at IMDb - in the threes - but I'm not sure I understand what differentiates films between three and five at IMDb. Backstreet Justice is not awful, just a few bricks shy of a load. A little more effort and it might have been an acceptable genre effort.



  • No features



  • Linda Kozlowski shows breasts in a sex scene.
  • Patricia Skeriotis shows her left breast and buns getting out of the shower, just before she is murdered.

The Critics Vote ...


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a D+, a near-miss. A little bit of polish here and there could have resulted in an adequate genre film.

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