George Kuffs (Slater) is an irresponsible 21-year-old high school dropout from San Francisco who walks out on his pregnant girlfriend Maya Carlton (Jovovich). Having lost his last job and with no prospects he visits his brother Brad (Bruce Boxleitner), who serves as an officer in the San Francisco Patrol Special Police, a civilian auxiliary police unit that sees potential officers assign themselves specific areas and work on a for-hire basis. Brad is not willing to loan George any money, though, and suggests George join him as a Patrol Special and work under him. Before George can decide whether to accept the offer, a man named Kane (Leon Rippy) shoots Brad in a church. George runs into the church to try to help Brad as Kane nonchalantly walks away from the scene, and Brad is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
George is brought in for a lineup where he identifies Kane as the shooter, but things quickly go from bad to worse as the police are forced to release Kane because George did not actually see him fire the gun. Shortly after this, George is told by Captain Morino (Troy Evans), a friend of his brother's, that Brad has died from his injuries. Morino also tells George that he has been bequeathed the district Brad patrolled. Shortly after a local businessman named Sam Jones (George de la Pena) decides to try and purchase the district so he can control it, but George decides to keep it and train to be a police officer. Predictably, things do not go smoothly as George draws the mocking of his fellow Patrol Specials and the ire of Officer Ted Bukowsky (Tony Goldwyn), a police liaison who has been assigned to work with the Patrol Specials as punishment for having an affair with the police chief's wife (Alexandra Paul). In the latter case, George is able to get back at Ted by spiking his coffee with highly potent narcotics while on duty, which result in Ted being suspended from the force when they take effect.
After George is shot by a suicidal writer, things slowly begin to change. He reconnects with Maya, who has broken up with her new boyfriend, and then manages to kill Kane when the latter tries to ambush him at his apartment. He also cracks a huge criminal enterprise run by Sam Jones out of a Chinese dry cleaner, which gains him the respect and admiration of his fellow police. However, his joy is short lived when Jones decides to drop a bombshell on the Patrol Specials and hand them George's high school transcript, which renders him ineligible to be a police officer because he dropped out of school. Sam then declares he will take control of the district.
George is eventually kidnapped and seeks out a now-suspended Ted for help. This culminates with a massive rooftop shootout between Sam Jones' goons and the two officers, who are eventually joined by the rest of the unit. George corners Sam in the lowest level of a parking garage and, despite being wounded in the arm, fatally shoots Sam.
The movie ends with a much more responsible George having married Maya and now the proud father of a baby girl, named Sarah. At Maya's suggestion, he has passed the high school equivalency exam, allowing him to continue working as an officer, and has taken out a loan to expand his brother's district.Christian Slater – George Kuffs
Milla Jovovich – Maya Carlton
Tony Goldwyn – Ted Bukovsky
Bruce Boxleitner – Brad Kuffs
Troy Evans – Captain Morino
George de la Peña – Sam Jones
Leon Rippy – Kane
Mary Ellen Trainor - Nikki Allyn
Slater said he took the role in part because he wanted to avoid doing accents or worrying about historical accuracy, as in his previous two roles. Because of his popularity as a teen idol, Slater said he was asked to do a scene in his underwear. He refused, saying that it was too gratuitous.
Kuffs was released in the United States on January 10, 1992. It opened in fifth place and grossed $5.7 million in its opening weekend. The final US gross was $21.1 million. Kuffs continued an 18-month dry spell for Universal Pictures in which they did not score a hit. The film's theatrical poster, which depicts Slater smiling and holding a pistol, was compared to that of Juice' poster, which Paramount Pictures airbrushed to remove a pistol. Further comparisons between the films led Richard Harrington of The Washington Post to question whether racism led the Motion Picture Association of America to rate Kuffs PG-13 and Juice R. Jack Valenti, president of the MPAA, denied racism had anything to do with it and said it was based solely on parental concerns. In Dallas, Texas, the regional ratings board overrode the MPAA rating with an R rating for violent content. It was released on home video in the US in June 1992.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 29% of 17 surveyed critics gave the film a positive rating; the average rating is 4.4/10. Variety criticized the film's tone and said that it is "very reminiscent of several Eddie Murphy films". Caryn James of The New York Times wrote that the film takes itself too seriously in parts where it should have used humor, though it will appeal to teenage fans of Slater and action films. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the violent scenes make the comedic elements difficult to enjoy. Desson Howe of The Washington Post wrote, "This movie wasn't scripted. It was shoplifted." Lou Cedrone of The Baltimore Sun called it a "very good action comedy" that "sneaks up on you" with its humor. Gary Thompson of the Philadelphia Daily News rated it 2.5/4 stars and wrote the film's absurdity makes it "strangely entertaining", though it is not intelligently written enough to work as a whole. People, while acknowledging the film is not original, said that Slater carries the film. TV Guide rated it 2/4 stars and called it "one of [Slater's] best roles to date", though the film's violence and uneven tone make it "difficult to recommend to anyone but die-hard action fans".
An original soundtrack album was released in July 6, 1992, under the label Stage & Screen; the soundtrack features songs mainly by German synthpop musician Harold Faltermeyer, however, the album did not chart in America. It did not include the main theme song, a theme called "I Don't Want To Live Without You", by the American musician Gregg Tripp.