66 user 42 critic

Colors (1988)

An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.


Dennis Hopper


Michael Schiffer (screenplay), Michael Schiffer (story) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Penn ... Danny McGavin
Robert Duvall ... Bob Hodges
Maria Conchita Alonso ... Louisa Gomez
Randy Brooks ... Ron Delaney
Grand L. Bush ... Larry Sylvester (as Grand Bush)
Don Cheadle ... Rocket
Gerardo Mejía ... Bird
Glenn Plummer ... High Top
Rudy Ramos ... Melindez
Sy Richardson ... Bailey
Trinidad Silva ... Frog
Charles Walker ... Reed
Damon Wayans ... T-Bone
Fred Asparagus Fred Asparagus ... Cook
Sherman Augustus ... Officer Porter


A confident young cop is shown the ropes by a veteran partner in the dangerous gang-controlled barrios of L.A. about to explode in violence in this look at the gang culture enforced by the colors that members wear. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two cops. Two gangs. One hell of a war. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site




English | Spanish

Release Date:

29 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vigilantes de la calle See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,747,118, 17 April 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (unrated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR (Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The mural with Jesus where Danny "Pac-Man" McGavin (Sean Penn) spray paints a young vandalizers face, is also seen in Falling Down (1993), also starring Robert Duvall as a cop. See more »


At the beginning of the movie when Danny and Bob first meet in the police station washroom, there is something in Bob's back pocket that is sticking out in some shots, but disappears in others. See more »


[first lines]
Diaz: Hey Hodges, what do you think about all those hot shot jitter bugs, huh?
Bob Hodges: What about 'em?
Diaz: You never went for this shit, did you?
Bob Hodges: No way.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original theatrical version wasn't shortened but scenes were added when Virgin released the VHS in the UK, marketed as a bonus rather than as a Director's Cut. In the 'international VHS version' two scenes were extended. See more »


References Victimas de la pobreza (1986) See more »


Performed by Kenia Hernandez & Courtney Gains
Written by Kenia Hernandez
Published by Kenia Publishing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A surprisingly very good and very underrated movie.
1 August 2016 | by The Grand MasterSee all my reviews

Colors is a movie that shines brightly with quality actors Sean Penn and Robert Duvall headlining the movie and Dennis Hopper sitting in the director's chair for the first time since Easy Rider (1969). The film could have easily been dismissed as a routine action movie but the end result is a gritty crime drama that highlights a major problem across the USA.

Colors focuses on the Los Angeles Police Department's CRASH Division (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) combating the gang wars that could explode across Los Angeles at any moment. Amongst the CRASH officers are the 19 year veteran Officer Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall, The Godfather) who treats all the gang members hard but fair yet approaches every problem with a sense of diplomacy. Hodges is partnered with Officer Danny McGavin (Sean Penn, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) a young police officer who is highly capable but has a very short fuse and proves to be his own worst enemy with his aggressive approach to police work, much to the chagrin to Hodges. Hodges and McGavin must work together to prevent an all out war on the streets of Los Angels between the Bloods and the Crips.

Sean Penn made his mark with Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and since then has gone from strength to strength with movies such as Bad Boys (1983), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and At Close Range (1986) which was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Improbably cast as an LAPD officer, Sean Penn turns in an excellent performance as Danny McGavin which sees him continue to come of age. Ironically, Sean Penn found himself on the wrong side of the law during the filming of Colors when he was jailed for punching an extra who photographed him and Robert Duvall without his permission.

The ever reliable Robert Duvall who never puts a foot wrong no matter what role he plays or what movie he appears in. Duvall does a fine job as veteran officer Bob Hodges who strives to keep the peace on the streets of Los Angeles as well as keeping his young hotheaded partner in line.

María Conchita Alonso (The Running Man), Don Cheadle (Traffic), Damon Wayans (The Last Boy Scout), and Glenn Plummer (Speed) also appear in small but effective roles in Colors and support Sean Penn and Robert Duvall very well.

The late Dennis Hopper was a surprise choice as director given that in his stellar career (Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Speed) he has only directed a handful of movies with Easy Rider (1969) being his only successful movie as a director. Here in Colors he has done a quality job bringing the movie to the big screen.

Colors was a surprisingly very good movie that is sorely underrated. Thankfully critics did not dismiss this as rubbish and gave the movie credit where it was due. It was also boosted by the star power of Sean Penn and Robert Duvall under the direction of Dennis Hopper. It is gritty and uncompromising, but Colors shines.


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