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Bad Lieutenant 18 rating

Abel Ferrara's disturbing character study of a corrupt N.Y.C. cop and his slide into insanity, starring Harvey Keitel in a career-best performance.

Crime 1992 96 mins

Director: Abel Ferrara



Harvey Keitel stars as the (unnamed) NYPD lieutenant whose crack-fuelled lifestyle of gambling, violence and thievery make him almost indistinguishable from the criminals he's supposedly chasing. Seemingly in a pit of despair and nihilism, his life takes a turn when a young nun (Frankie Thorn) is raped on the altar of a local church, and he's drawn to a final desperate attempt to find the true depths of human sin and the power of mercy.

Keitel is sensational in one of his most raw and soul-baring roles, in this unflinching and powerful story of vice and redemption, which arrived in the middle of a run of knockout '90s features from cult director Abel Ferrara, working at the height of his game (see also King of New York and The Addiction). Released in the UK merely a few weeks after Reservoir Dogs (which also starred Keitel) in 1993, the film also briefly became ensnared in one of Britain's perennial moral panics about the extent of cinematic violence, and was even banned outright at the time in the Republic of Ireland.