The ’80s Dark Crime Thriller Being Lost To Time

By Robert Scucci | Published

night of the juggler

The unfortunate reality about movies that fall into the “neo-noir action crime drama exploitation thriller” genre is that they often become increasingly difficult to locate and view as time marches forward. One film in particular, 1980’s Night of the Juggler, is one such film that isn’t available on streaming. And if you’re looking for a DVD copy of this James Brolin-starring film, we wish you luck because the closest thing we’ve found to a modern release comes in the form of a VHS transfer.

A Tough Movie To Own

night of the juggler

What’s more, a straight-up VHS tape of Night of the Juggler currently goes for $139.98 on Amazon. So not only will you have to throw down some serious dough to get a copy, you’ll probably also have to invest in a VCR if you don’t have one collecting dust somewhere.

The Plot

night of the juggler

Set in late 1970s New York, Night of the Juggler is known as New York Killer in the UK, Countdown in Manhattan in Germany, New York Connection in France, and Pursued in Canada. Though the film’s title suggests that we’ll see some sort of harlequin-based trickery at the behest of crazed clown, the movie’s plot couldn’t be further from its title. But there are so many moving parts in this movie, its US title is surprisingly fitting.

A Desperate Father

night of the juggler

Centered on James Brolin’s Sean Boyd, Night of the Juggler is a search and rescue kind of flick that gets into some pretty sleazy territory. Boyd is a former cop who will stop at nothing to rescue his daughter, Kathy, from a psychopath named Gus Soltic. To make matters worse, Gus mistakes Kathy’s identity for that of a wealthy man’s daughter, so he kidnapped the wrong person.

Once Night of the Juggler’s story is established, the grimy New York City backdrop is met with relentless pacing that doesn’t let up. In Sean’s quest to find his daughter, who is mistakenly held captive for a one million dollar ransom, we bear witness to gangs, the illicit activities of pimps and drug dealers, crooked cops, epic car chases, and oh so many brawls that will keep your eyes glued to the screen.

A Precursor To Taken

liam neeson

We’ve seen plots similar to Night of the Juggler play out in more modern films like Taken, but the time and setting for this particular film make for a more gritty and unhinged viewing experience. While the main story plays out, the film takes an unse3ttling look at some of the more uncomfortable societal issues that we’re still in many ways dealing with today, like police corruption, poverty, and systemic racism.

Reviewers Love It

night of the juggler

Many reviewers who celebrate Night of the Juggler praise the dark crime thriller for its use of setting and cinematography. The film’s sleazy overtones are elevated by the graffiti, abandoned housing units, gang activity, and underground sewage systems that expertly capture the state of disrepair some of the more run-down areas of New York City were at the time.

Worth The Trouble

night of the juggler

Though you’ll probably have a hard time finding an uncensored physical copy of Night of the Juggler, it’s a solid crime thriller worthy of your attention that will never make you look at New York City the same way again.

And if you have the disposable income to grab a VHS copy of Night of the Juggler, it comes with strong recommendations because the version that many people were familiar with while it was making its late-night rounds on TBS cuts out quite a bit violence and other explicit scenes that can’t be viewed on network television.