Next of Kin (1989 film)

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Next of Kin
Next-of-Kin-Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Irvin
Produced by Larry Dewaay
Jeb Stuart
Richard D. Zanuck
Written by Michael Jenning
Starring Patrick Swayze
Liam Neeson
Adam Baldwin
Helen Hunt
Bill Paxton
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Larry Gatlin (song) "Brothers"
Cinematography Steven B. Poster
Edited by Peter Honess
Distributed by Lorimar Film Productions
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 20, 1989 (1989-10-20)
Running time 111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million
Box office $15,942,628

Next of Kin is a 1989 American action film directed by John Irvin and starring Patrick Swayze and Liam Neeson, with Adam Baldwin and Ben Stiller in one of his earliest roles. The screenplay was based on a story of the same title, both written by Michael Jenning.

Plot[edit]

Truman Gates (Patrick Swayze), raised in Appalachia, has migrated to Chicago to become a police officer. Married to Jessie, who has a baby on the way, he seems to have made the transition from hillbilly to respectable law man. When the local coal mine closes, Truman persuades his younger brother Gerald (Bill Paxton) to look for work in Chicago. But things take a turn for the worse when soon after landing a job as a truck driver, Gerald's vehicle is hijacked by mobsters and Gerald is killed by Joey Rosellini (Adam Baldwin), the nephew of mob boss Poppa John Isabella (Andreas Katsulas).

Truman returns to Kentucky for the funeral. When his surviving brother, Briar Gates (Liam Neeson), insists on a traditional mountain blood feud, Truman urges his family to let the police deal with Gerald's murder. Briar finds Truman's reluctance to be disgraceful. Determined to deal with the murderers in his own way, Briar travels to Chicago in search of his youngest brothers killer.

Meanwhile, Truman desperately tries to solve the crime before Briar takes revenge on his own. He approaches John Isabella and explains the mountain code to him. He suggests that if Gerald's murderer surrenders peacefully, it would save them both a lot of trouble. John, however, refuses on general principle, and Truman is left to continue his investigation.

After arriving in town, Briar gets a room at a flop house. Before he leaves, he gives the front desk clerk the phone number of his cousin back home and asks him to call the number if he doesn't return by morning.

Not wasting any time, Briar goes looking for information on the man who killed Gerald and, during his search, shoots up a local mob hangout. When Truman arrives a little later, Joey, embarrassed by the attack, says he is not pressing charges against Briar. He intends to "handle things" himself. When Poppa John says he feels things are getting out of hand, Joey dismisses the threat, saying that the Gates family, "plow rocks for a living." John responds, "That's what they said about 'our' people back in Sicily."

Working together for a time, Briar and Truman learns the identity of the hijackers from a witness. Truman pressures Lawrence, the son of Poppa John, to turn states evidence against Joey. Lawrence goes to Joey for help, only to have Joey betray him. Lawrence's body is found with evidence of being tortured and evidence found at the scene points to Briar. Joey goes to Poppa John, who devastated by his son's death, sanctions a hit on the supposed culprit. Before he can, Briar breaks into Rosellini's trucking company and engages in a gunfight with Joey's crew and kills two of Joey's guys before Joey shoots Briar twice. Fatally wounded, Briar dies in Truman's arms.

When the flop house desk clerk hears about the deaths at the Trucking Company on the news, he calls Briar's next of kin.

Even though both Truman and the police know the evidence against Briar was planted, and Briar's death was an ambush, they can't prove it. Truman resigns from the police force and goes after the Rosellini mob himself. As the Gates family gathers together and travels to Chicago to begin a war against the Outfit, Truman goes on the offensive and throws one of Joey's guys into the window of a restaurant. When Joey comes out, he finds "You forgot one," painted on Joey's car and vows to murder Truman without his uncle's permission.

Truman lures the Rosellini crew to a darkened cemetery, where an extended battle ensues. In the end Truman has Joey pinned on the ground with a knife to his throat only to be stopped by Poppa John Isabella arrives with members of the Gates family held at gunpoint. He orders Truman to drop the knife and move out of the way. But Poppa John has learned the truth about Lawrence's murder, and to Joey's horror, he points the gun not at Truman, but at him. Joey asks him what is he going to do. The Don tells Joey, "This is for killing my son," and shoots him dead.

The Gates and Isabella families make peace. Back at the police station, Truman sees Jessie. Truman tells Jessie, "Now you're my only family."

Filming locations in Kentucky[edit]

Some of the home scenes and the opening scenes were filmed in the small Perry County Kentucky coal camp of Hardburly. Others were done at the MC Napier High School gym in Hazard and in Letcher County near Carbonton.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

This film was rated 43% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 7 reviews. It earned a Razzie Award nomination for Patrick Swayze as Worst Actor (also for Road House), where he lost to William Shatner for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Soundtrack[edit]

A soundtrack to the film was also released through Warner Bros. Records. Here is the track listing:

  1. "Brother to Brother" - Gregg Allman & Lori Yates - 3:58
  2. "Hey, Backwoods" - Rodney Crowell - 4:11
  3. "Hillbilly Heart" - Ricky Van Shelton - 2:56
  4. "Straight and Narrow" - Ricky Skaggs - 2:51
  5. "Paralyzed" - Sweethearts of the Rodeo - 3:00
  6. "The Yard Sale" - Billy Lawson - 2:24
  7. "My Sweet Baby's Gone" - Charlie Daniels - 3:15
  8. "Pyramid of Cans" - George Jones - 2:31
  9. "Brothers" - Patrick Swayze & Larry Gatlin - 4:10
  10. "Wailing Sax" - Duane Eddy - 3:19

The album has been out of print for years and is considered a highly sought-after collector's item, usually priced fairly high on many online stores, including Amazon.

External links[edit]