• Kelly M. Hudson

3:15 Means 80s Gang Violence Time!


Jeff Hannah (Adam Baldwin) has run with the Cobras nearly all his life. He has grown up and gone through the gang wars with his best pal Cinco (Danny De La Paz), but one night he finally reaches his breaking point, when things get just a little too violent for him. He quits the gang, throwing down his jacket and walking away. But it isn’t that easy, and the ghost of his past still haunts him. Jeff tries to start over, dedicating himself to basketball and to his new girlfriend, Sherry (Deborah Foreman). The thing is, the violent world around him hasn’t just stopped, and soon he is put in a compromising situation, where he refuses to help Cinco and his former best friend gets thrown in jail. Cinco is seething mad, and when he gets out, he issues an edict: Jeff must die. This sets up a final and fatal showdown on school property at 3:15, The Moment of Truth.

I’m a big fan of gang movies from the 80s. especially teen gangs. They’re always so wild, so coordinated, so influenced by The Warriors. Lincoln High, the school in this picture and nearly every other gang pic, has several gangs, all decked out in preposterous costumes and outfits. There’s the all-black gang led by Mario Van Peebles, who dress like mercenary military soldiers, the Asian gang that look like they stepped off the set of a kung-fu movie, an all-girl gang (with Gina Gershon floating in the background), and the Cobras, who are a weird, multi-ethnic mix. No one battles the other but their presences are all fully-felt. This movie is an underseen and underrated classic of this subgenre. The violence is brutal, the situations gritty, and the love affair between Baldwin and Foreman is terrific. There are a lot of tropes you’ve seen before, but I would say you’ve seen most of them after. In fact, the final confrontation seems to be lifted almost verbatim by a more popular movie that came out one year later, The Principal. In any case, 3:15 lives in its own crazy world and crazy logic, where gang members can fight it out in a closed school while dozens of spectators wait outside for the victor to emerge, all while the cops have no clue. This only works in the 80s, but it works so damned well.

If you’re a fan of these kinds of flicks, like I am, and you haven’t seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and get to it. Filled with violence, with bravado, with terror and a dash of sex, you can’t go wrong. This is a true classic of this subgenre, and it stands shoulder to shoulder with films like Tuff Turf and Savage Streets.

★★★☆



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