A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Villainous forces here are focused on making profits by disrespecting the land and history of Hawaii, stripping it away and starting a drug empire. This provides a cautionary, pro-environmental message.
Positive Role Models
Characters are pretty weak; even the "heroes" are less-than-respectable bounty hunters.
Main characters are largely White men, but one key character, a police detective named Savannah, is a native Hawaiian woman (played by Thai-Swedish actor Praya Lundberg). Her family members are introduced, too; they're depicted positively, but they're also ruthlessly attacked in short order. Other characters of color appear in the background. Hawaiian culture is somewhat exoticized in the form of a "truth ritual" involving hallucinogenic substances. Savannah is somewhat objectified; she's often shown in a bikini or other revealing outfits. Travolta's villain wears frilly shirtsleeves and speaks with a slight Liberace-style inflection, which could be interpreted as a problematic portrayal of a queer-coded character.
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Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting. Characters are killed. Blood spurts and dripping blood. Gory corpse of a person devoured by sharks. Other dead bodies. Character zapped by lamp with broken light bulb. Zapping with Taser. Fighting, punching, kicking. Man hits woman with elbow. Attack on village: explosions, destruction, etc. Car crash. Gun held to head. Character shot, falls into ocean, blood swirls around in water. Person thrown into volcano. Exploding boat. Mixed martial arts fighting. Character slammed by car door. Foot chase, shoving bystanders out of the way. Jumping from a 10-story window (into koi pond). Character kidnapped, with cloth bag over head.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. Women are objectified, shown wearing revealing outfits. Women in a nightclub dance in a way that's intended to be erotic/suggestive and flirt with customers. Women in hot tub. Dialogue about marital infidelity.
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Strong language includes "f--k," "bulls--t," "s--t," "motherf----r," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "goddamn," "ass," "damn," "idiot." "Jesus" used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
Dialogue about purchasing an item from Amazon.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Hawaiian ritual involves a man drinking an unknown liquid and eating a possible "magic" mushroom. (Dialogue: "How strong is this dope?") Social drinking throughout, beers in bar, cocktails on beach, etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Paradise City is a Hawaii-set crime drama/action movie about bounty hunters on the trail of an elusive drug dealer. Violence includes guns and shooting, deaths and dead bodies, blood spurts, a woman being brutally shot and killed, fighting, kicking, punching, zapping with electricity, falls from high places, explosions, and more. Language is also strong, including uses of "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," etc. Exotic dancers in revealing outfits dance in a way that's intended to be suggestive/erotic. Other women are objectified, and there's kissing and dialogue about infidelity. Characters drink socially throughout, and one eats a (potentially) "magic" mushroom during a ritual. Bruce Willis and John Travolta -- acting together for the first time since Pulp Fiction -- are the top-billed stars here, but they're not the main characters. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Beautiful Hawaiian locations, a veteran genre director, and nostalgic stunt casting can't overcome the general low energy level and lazy attitude that permeate this crime drama from start to finish. The credited director on Paradise City is Chuck Russell, whose filmography goes all the way back to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and also includes The Mask and The Scorpion King. But any hopes of an extra level of quality are dashed when the name Edward Drake (Cosmic Sin) comes up in the writing credits. And right away the movie reeks of cutting corners. A car crash is simulated with an off-screen "crash" noise, and then there's a pan to the right to show an already stopped and steaming car. Plus, Willis' first few lines of dialogue are hurriedly edited together from whatever good takes they could get from the star, who sadly suffers from aphasia.
The above-the-title billing of Willis and Travolta of course recalls their famous collaboration in Pulp Fiction. They shared only two scenes in that film, but both were memorable and essential. Here, they also share only a couple of scenes, but only one shot appears to include both actors at the same time (and it's a long shot of silhouetted figures on the beach); others are back-and-forth over-the-shoulder shots that could have used stand-ins. So there's really nothing to get excited about. No one else here seems to be too excited either, if the stiff, bored acting is any indication. The only one who seems to be having any fun is Travolta, whose villain character wears frilly shirtsleeves and speaks with a slight Liberace-style inflection -- which could be interpreted as either an interesting character touch or a somewhat crude portrayal of a potentially queer-coded character. Either way, Paradise City isn't really worth a visit.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.