Author's Note: Yes, these next 2 posts are a little late, but I've had a lot of last-minute prepping to do.
Don Johnson stars as a Los Angeles County homicide detective named Jerry Beck. The movie opens with a shot of a seedy bachelor pad replete with a stack of unpaid bills. Jerry also has the unexpected Christmas gift of a restraining order to stay away from his kids' school, courtesy of his ex-wife.
That night, a black convenience store clerk is shot during a robbery. As he lays dying, he manages to give a description of the person who did it. A few blocks away, an L.A. County deputy stops a young man walking down the street because he fits the profile. The young man is pleasant at first, but then ends up gunning down the deputy in cold blood. Jerry is assigned the case.
Jerry soon comes to believe that whoever killed the store clerk also killed his homicide victim (the deputy). He does a computer search for people who have recently been paroled for armed robbery that fit the now-dead clerk's description. Bobby Burns, a known white supremacist, becomes the prey of this sleep-deprived, depressed detective.
Jerry tries to drown his sorrows about not being able to see his kids at a Christmas Eve party thrown by the sheriff's department. There, he meets Linda. He beds her. Later in the movie, Jerry learns that Linda is married to the murdered police officer, though the two have been separated for several months. Linda claims that she slept with Jerry to get him to hunt down and kill whoever murdered her estranged husband.
It becomes apparent early on that Jerry has anger issues and a drinking problem. After spending the night with an equally drunk Linda, Jerry goes into work hungover on Christmas Day. He breaks his telephone and scrambles up the office after he calls his ex-wife Gloria and she denies him permission to come over to give their kids the Christmas presents he bought them.
Jerry has been in touch with Bobby's parole officer, Webley, because he can't search Bobby's belongings for evidence without a parole officer being present. He drags P.O. Webley to a Hell's Angels hangout where Bobby is staying with his mother. Bobby isn't there, just his brother John who's home from New Mexico State University on Christmas break. One fight scene later, Jerry has chased down and puked all over a fleeing suspect who doesn't match the photo of Bobby.
The Coyote, a Mexican bar in Cottonwood, Arizona, is the next stop for Jerry. Bobby and his Klansman-eqsue buddies had tried to rob the place, but only found a gun and some pesos. They shot all the customers and the staff. There's a shootout.
After only just cheating death by automatic weapon, Jerry ends up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Because white supremacy literature was found in both Los Angeles and Arizona, an FBI agent named Kressler joins Jerry. They both think Bobby is their prime suspect. They were led to Oklahoma by maps and notes found in Arizona. The local police chief is entirely unhelpful with severe leanings in favor of the Aryan Nation Church of Christ, which Bobby also belongs to.
Jerry comes close to getting thrown off the case after parole officer Webley, Kressler, and others complain about his anger issues, etc. Jerry ends up threatening the psychiatrist he is sent to. After throttling the shrink, he is free to go after Bobby Burns again.
Kressler and Jerry follow the clues to a small town in Montana, where the Aryan Nation Church has set up a compound in the woods. They're about to stage a huge meeting with other white supremacist groups in order to unite and form a single power structure. This is an idea that Kressler has been scoffing at all through the movie.
Jerry and Kressler are joined by black policemen and they raid KKK Ranch. They have a great big underground firefight and kill all the Klansmen. The FBI agent and the homicide detective hope to find Bobby. They do. After Jerry is forced to shoot him, he learns that Bobby's brother John actually killed the convenience store clerk and the sheriff's deputy. FBI agent Kressler gets the credit for busting the big Klan operation. Jerry Beck presumably returns to his life of drunken obscurity in Burbank.
The highlight of the movie (or low point, depending on your perspective) was a scene that shows a hungover Jerry barfing on a suspect following a lengthy foot chase. It was splendidly disgusting!