Street Kings: Motor City

Street Kings: Motor City

by Hope Cobb , Published in Michigan Movie Magazine
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Hope Cobb

Detroit is rapidly becoming the urban action film setting of choice for Hollywood.Productions 
like Red Dawn, Kill The Irishman, Transformers 3, Detroit 1-8-7, and Real Steel have flocked 
to Detroit to take advantage of the abundant, relatively barren cityscapes, and film friendliness.  
MMM recently had the opportunity to visit with Street Kings: Motor City, one of the latest films 
to take advantage of Detroit’s post-industrial back lot.

Street Kings: Motor City stars acclaimed actors Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) and Shawn Hatosy 
(Southland, Public Enemies). Liotta plays Marty Kingston, who is shot and barely survives 
while trying to save his partner during an undercover drug bust.  Four years later, after his 
partner is killed, he teams up with Detective Dan Sullivan (Hatosy) to investigate multiple 
brutal slayings of fellow officers.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Entertainment @ The Michigan Theater
“Street Kings, was five weeks of intense work,” said Hatosy. “Though I enjoy it (the work) I sometimes find it addicting.  The addiction, is that there is always the need to try to improve upon the process and the work, so it never gets old, whether it is a play, a movie or a film.”
The movie was originally written for the streets of Los Angeles, but was switched to Detroit to take advantage of the tax incentive. The writers didn’t change many of the locale descriptions in the script, leaving it up to director Chris Fisher.  On arrival, Chris viewed the options provided. He decided instead of focusing on what is perceived wrong with Detroit, to focus on what was good and beautiful.
Fisher chose historic locations like The Masonic Temple, The Guardian Building, and the old Wayne County Building to highlight Detroit’s cinematic appeal. A graffiti covered abandoned meat packing plant was chosen for its stark contrasting visual impact.

Photo by Hope Cobb
Michigan Movie Magazine visited the Street Kings Motor City set during one of the high drama action scenes shot at St. Aubin and Division, close to Eastern Market at 2 a.m. The night setting was surreal with the contrasting dark and light.  The graffiti art enhanced the beauty of the lush overgrown plants around it. The spray paint was colored in hues of blue and green, as if it had been painted on purpose to blend in with the greenery.

Photo by Hope Cobb
The scene depicts a gun battle inside of a car.  This was a difficult scene to shoot as the cameraman virtually hung out of the car.  Ele Bardha (Shawn Hatosy’s stunt double) fell out of the car as it sped across the abandoned lot, launching off the cliff with another officer (a dummy) still inside. The car plummeted 20 feet down into what was once a highway, now overgrown with weeds and strewn with an old couch and other random relics.

Photo by Hope Cobb

As the scene wrapped and we were packing up our gear, we asked Chris Fisher if we would be seeing him back in Detroit any time soon.  His reply was the same as we have heard from numerous filmmakers over the past months. ”If they keep the movie incentive in Michigan, we will keep coming back!



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