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Marvin Bookman is a small shop owner in Gary, Indiana, USA. After he sees a drive-by shooting of Laurie Thompson's son by a local gang, he gives up the license number of the car to the police. The gang doesn't like this so they go to the store and rough him up. Soon, John Bookman comes to town to set the wrong things right. With the help of Laurie and his old friend Jake, they attempt to take back the streets and show the new breed of gang members what the true originals can do. Written by
Josh Pasnak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When John and Jake do a drive-by at the steel mill in an attempt to start the gang war, several fires in barrels are burning. When they make their second pass, the smoke and fire can be seen going backwards, back into the barrels. See more »
It has great potential and the theme of abandoning your roots frequently pops up -- giving potential for further plot development which most action films do not even approach. However, this all-star cast of blaxploitation veterans making their first film together rarely jells.
For instance, Fred Williamson, who produced, seems to have forgotten that there were other great actors from that era. 90% of the film is him strutting around, pontificating on how bad the neighborhood has become and why don't the cops/neighbors/politicians/whoever do something about it. He saw fit to put Jim Brown in as co-star, but Brown serves as little more than a bodyguard, punching the whey out of a few people and (in his one big solo scene) threatening a young thug. Richard ("Shaft") Roundtree and Mr. "Superfly" himself -- Ron O'Neal -- are given glorified cameos. In fact, the introductory scene with O'Neal is shown completely in long shot. Why didn't the director do a few closeups? You can hardly tell it's O'Neal. That's just sloppy direction (either that or they didn't have permits to shoot on city streets and shot this on the sly).
Other great character actors -- Robert Forster, Charles Napier, Wings Hauser -- are featured but have little to do but act like cartoon characters. Whoever wrote this film should have given thought to the reasons why the best blaxploitation epics worked.
Not a complete failure but overall a major disappointment considering this is the first and only film these stars have been in together (no chance for a reunion with O'Neal's recent passing).
** out of *****
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