Razor Digital // 2001 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 15th, 2004
It's survival of the baddest.
It's 2010, and times are rough. The country has just survived a horrible war, one that culminated in a miniature nuclear holocaust, a disaster that burned America's cities to the ground but, surprisingly, left its suburbs untouched. Out of the ashes of the catastrophe, a destructive flesh-eating virus that can spontaneously mutate into an Ebola strain has also cropped up, decimating survivors. Amid the chaos, gang warfare has erupted, eroding much of civilized society.
Police are helpless to curtail the violence, and, for the most part, it's every man, woman, and child for him or herself.
After an astoundingly superfluous and disposable first scene, featuring Ice-T and Coolio as cops who turn on each other, we get to the real movie and meet Jared (Sasha Mitchell, of Step by Step fame) and his brother driving out of a flaming Los Angeles. They manage to elude the burning, but unfortunately for them and the viewer, they can't escape the movie and are soon intercepted by a violent gang.
Jared's brother gets whacked, and Jared finds himself a prisoner, inexplicably held captive in a jail cell. While stewing in his wrath, Jared meets Derek (Costas Mandylor), a fellow inmate who is also pissed at the world. Lucky for Jared, Derek has a plan to escape. It's fairly complex, so bear with me as I try to describe it:
As they are being led away for their execution, they punch the guards in the face.
This masterful strategy works like a charm, and the dynamic duo beat feet, pausing only to unleash a little hand-to-hand payback. During their exodus, they encounter another fugitive hell-bent on killing lots of people, Alexis (Kathleen Kinmont). What Alexis, Derek, and Jared (the main characters in a WB teen drama?) discover is that the cure for the virus has been created; unfortunately, the valuable serum is in the clutches of the evil, cheese-ball gang leader, Lucifer, a direct rip-off of the Fender character in Van Damme's Cyborg; but, seeing as Vincent Klyn plays both roles, maybe it isn't so much a rip-off as a reprisal?
Deciding to save humanity, the three heroes venture into the heart of "Gangland," facing seemingly insurmountable odds (read: unemployed gym rats at the local fitness club) to retrieve the cure. Along the way they must use all their cunning, all their fighting ability, and all their hair gel to defeat their foes...
The disc jacket proclaims the movie a "post-apocalypse urban sci-fi thriller," a veritable genre smorgasbord. There's really nothing urban about it, and this tagline, coupled with the ridiculous headlining of Coolio and Ice-T, tells me the studio went out of its way to market the flick as something it isn't. Seriously, the two rappers' presence can be utterly discarded, and there is nary a hip-hop beat to be found. As a result, viewers looking for a mixture of Mad Max and Boys N the Hood will be sorely disappointed. Come to think of it, those looking for a post-apocalypse sci-fi thriller will likely be disappointed as well. And fans of Sasha Mitchell, be prepared: Your hero's career has hit some speed bumps, as he's usurped in the credits by two cameos (three with Kristanna Loken, who shows up in flashback).
This being a vision of the future, I'm sure you're all wondering what lies
ahead. Allow me to share what I've observed about America in 2010, courtesy
1. Nuclear firestorms do little to disrupt cable news networks.
2. Gangs prefer using guns to bludgeon their victims instead of shooting them.
3. Post-apocalyptic punks take great care in waxing their chests.
4. Evil masterminds fashion their ultimate warriors after Nuclear Man from Superman IV.
5. A new system of logic has permeated the future, one by which it is deemed wiser to completely destroy a cure to a rampant plague, thus letting countless multitudes die a painful death, than to let a bad guy control its production.
6. The best facility to find a cure for a ravaging disease is your living room, using a fifth-grader's chemistry set.
7. Rather than shoot enemies on the spot, gangs in the future prefer to drag them miles away to a prison, incarcerate them, and then, 10 minutes later, have two guards with sub-par reaction times and reflexes escort them to a courtyard to be executed.
8. Evildoers in the future prefer murdering people in front of their siblings, in order to instill ferocious blood vendettas that may or may not come back to haunt them.
9. The ceremonial dress for a gang leader is gluing pigeon feathers to his shoulders.
10. High-quality hair products survived the atomic fallout.
So there you have it, unparalleled insight into what may be on the horizon for civilization.
Oddly, the disc jacket -- already proven a bastion of voracity -- claims interviews and a behind-the-scenes special feature, when, in truth, there's none of it.
The movie sports a full-frame presentation, with a pretty decent picture. The stereo mix is nothing to write home about, unless the letter you're writing starts off: "Dear Mom and Dad, I watched this crappy movie called Gangland and it had a mediocre stereo audio mix."
And, as far as the audio goes, I was surprised at the blatant lack of punching sound effects. Gone were the loud thwacks and pows. Instead, all the attacks sounded like whiffs at a softball game.
Funny, as Gangland manages to whiff as well.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Razor Digital
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R