Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the movie "ultraviolent trash that wipes out Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern and Isabella Adjani... plays like a bad imitation of a French gangster picture which in turn is a bad imitation of an American gangster picture." Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote "It is Awful Movie. It is Pretentious Movie. It is Silly Movie. It talks just like this."
Todd Pacific Shipyards, Los Angeles Division was the last corporate name for a shipyard that was located in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California. The shipyard was formerly named Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company and Todd Shipyards, Los Angeles Division. Under those three names, the San Pedro yard built at least 130 ships from 1917 to 1989.
Saying it's "probably advisable for film noir aficionados only", film critic Duncan Shepherd of the San Diego Reader praised the film highly (awarding it the highest 5-star rating). "The whole show, in fact, is something like a coded message passed from the moviemaker to the devotees of the genre, in full view of, but beyond the full understanding of, the rest of the audience", according to Shepherd. The film grossed a total of 1,102,183 admissions in France.
The movie was a commercial disappointment in America but did well overseas. Producer Larry Gordon later reflected on the film's poor critical and box office response in the US:
Isabelle Adjani later complained she felt the film hurt her career. "Afterwards the only American offers I got were bad ones," she said. "I did it, really because after The Story of Adele H everyone urged me to make a Hollywood film. I turned down several, and felt I couldn't continue to do that. And I liked Walter Hill. Only later did I realize I'd made a terrible mistake."
EMI Films had announced plans to make another film with Hill, a Western called The Last Gun, but this did not eventuate.