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Great Fun
Michael_Elliott11 March 2008
Original Gangstas (1996)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Blaxploitation in the 90's has a street gang killing off people so the old guys (Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Ron O'Neal, Richard Roundtree) come to take the streets back. This all-star extravaganza remains a lot of fun like those films of the 1970's but this one here also has a message and asks a lot of serious questions. Whereas those 70's flicks simply blamed white folks, this one here goes a lot deeper in its message and even throws blame towards those earlier films. A lot of interesting ideas are brought up here, although we still get some mindless, if fun, action. Larry Cohen wrote a brilliant script and the performers all do a fine job. Robert Forster also stars.
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Like The Seventies Didn't Happen
Theo Robertson17 December 2012
On the surface Original GANGSTAS insinuates it's going to be a tough , gritty vigilante thriller set in the ghetto with a bunch of law abiding citizens taking on some nasty gang bangers . At it's most vague and basic this is exactly what it is . But remember one thing - the cast list . Who's appearing . We've got Richard Roundtree , Jim Brown , Ron O' Neal , Pam Grier and Fred Williamson basically every mainstay from the blaxploitation movies from the 1970s . And this is how the movie plays out . In effect you're watching a sequel to all these funky movies from the 1970s , produced for white people for black people . Even the title of the movie has undertones of a follow up to these 70s movies

The problem is that by the 1990s had come along Tarantino was the pin up boy of American cinema . We were now in the era of post modernism - some might claim post , post modernism - and watching OG you're struck by the lack of self referential concepts behind the proceedings . It also goes against the grain of other movies such as MENACE 2 SOCIETY in that there's a lack of anti-gangsta subtext and any social commentary is loosely touched upon and shallow . In effect it's straight forward vigilante wish fulfillment while being enjoyable to a degree certainly belongs in another era
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GREAT cast---so-so movie
preppy-35 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
John Bookman (Fred Williamson) returns to his home town which is now over run by gangs. His father is attacked and John wants to clean up the city. He enlists two old friends to help--Laurie (Pam Grier) and Jake (Jim Brown). But the gang leader is a borderline psycho and won't let go of the city. Bookman realizes they're going to have to fight to win.

This was just made to get some of the best stars from the 1970s blaxploitation films together to kick a** like they did back then! Aside from Williamson, Grier and Brown we also get Ron O'Neal and Richard Roundtree popping up in small roles. And it's always good to see Paul Winfield, Isabel Sanford and Robert Forster (before his big comeback in 1997's "Jackie Brown"--with Grier). The basic plot is OK but there are some serious mistakes made. As the movie goes on the plot gets increasingly stupid (Williamson's "plan" to pit the gangs against each other causes killings and huge property destruction) and there are plenty of loopholes. There's some great action sequences but (even for this type of movie) it's far too violent. Seeing old people and children attacked or killed is just going too far. Still it's great to see these actors in action again. Grier easily gives the best performance--but I was surprised at how really good Williamson and Brown were. This gets a 7 just for the cast. Worth catching...just don't think about it too much.
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Could Have Been So Much Better
utgard1426 November 2013
Somewhat disappointing homage to 70's blaxploitation films. Has a lot going for it with a cast full of great actors from that genre and a director who did some solid work there too. But ultimately it doesn't work well. Despite the violence and language, it's nowhere near as gritty, tough, and sexy as those 70's films. Also, and this sounds like a cheap shot, the fight scenes are comically bad. One could argue that perhaps this was an intentional part of the film paying tribute to the likes of Rudy Ray Moore but that would be a huge stretch. The fights don't appear to be choreographed so the actors just move each other around and throw professional wrestling punches instead. Still, the cast and director are worth recommending you check it out.
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Blaxploitation stars kick ass
lastliberal10 April 2007
It's like old home wee when stars like Jim Brown (Slaughter, Black Gunn), Fred Williamson (Starsky & Hutch), Pam Grier, Ron O'Neal (Superfly), Richard Roundtree (Shaft), and Paul Winfield (Sounder) get together to teach some young punks a lesson. Heavys of the 70's blaxploitation genre are called home to get some revenge and clean up the town. Lots of talking and shooting and good old fashioned fisticuffs.

Pam Grier (Coffy, Foxy Brown) is back in the form we like. She was one of the first female action stars in Hollywood. Looking forward to a retrospective this weekend when they replay two of her best.
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A founding member of the Rebels....
FlashCallahan24 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A violent street gang, the Rebels, rule the streets of Gary, Indiana. The Rebels shoot Marvin Bookman, a store-keeper, for giving the police information about a drive-by they did.

Marvin's son, former NFL star John who helped to create the Rebels, returns to Gary to be with his father and, with a little help from his friends, to destroy the Rebels the Blaxploitation way.....

It was always going to be a one off film, getting the most celebrated stars of the Blaxploitation genre, and having them in one film, referencing their success, and seamlessly branching into the sub genre that Boyz N Da Hood started back in 1991.

But it's nothing more than seeing your favourite stars of yesteryear all being in one big vanity project, with a little bit of Death Wish thrown in for good measure.

It's all stuff we've seen before, old versus new, the youngsters haven't got the respect like they did in the good old days, and of course, the setting has hit the doldrums with poverty and crime.

But it's fun to see all these stars in one film in a genre that made them famous.

It's a curiosity for sure, but just about worth watching.
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Gritty urban fairy-tale.
gridoon10 March 2004
Directed with flair and lots of authentic flavor by Larry Cohen, "Original Gangstas"/"Hot City" is still little more than a reworking of "Death Wish 3" with an (almost) all-black cast. It's a strange movie: first it goes to great lengths to establish a realistic urban environment, and then undermines it with a cockamamie story that is completely un-realistic. The movie should have chosen one approach or the other. The stars are as engaging as ever (if a bit long in the tooth), but Richard Roundtree's fans will be disappointed with his very minor part. (**)
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This provides enough entertainment to sustain its running time
tarbosh2200024 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The town of Gary, Indiana is in dire straits. The old mill shut down, businesses and industries left, the Jackson family vacated, and the good people that remain are under the thumb of the rampant crime that proliferated in the wake of the economy collapsing. And this isn't even a post-apocalyptic thriller. When local grocery store owner Marvin Bookman (Brown Jr.) is assaulted and shot by local punks, his son John (The Hammer), a former football player, flies in from L.A. to try and help. After seeing just how bad the situation has gotten in Gary, he reunites with his old friends Jake Trevor (Jim Brown), Laurie Thompson (Grier), Slick (Roundtree) and Bubba (O'Neal). The thing is, back in the old days they were in sort of a "mark 1" version of a gang, the Rebels. They would get involved in essentially harmless no-goodery. Now gang violence involves drive-by shootings and near-constant brutality. Hence, the ORIGINAL GANGSTAS re-form to save the day. What with the new Rebels, as well as rival gang the Diablos, causing mayhem all around, the OG's certainly have their hands full…but will they triumph over the young punks? Find out today… If we're fans of any two things, it's these two things: young punks getting their comeuppance from the older generation, and Fred Williamson. Regular readers of this site will note that both have been prevailing themes for us for years. To our delight, a movie finally came along that ties both of them together: Original Gangstas. Sure, it may have its flaws, but it also combines two other genre mainstays we all love and enjoy: the 'cleaning up the town' movie and the 'assembling a team' movie. Add to all that an outstanding B-movie cast, and you have an entertaining romp.

The cast truly is one of a kind, and the concept pre-dates The Expendables (2010) by a good 14 years. We didn't even mention Isabel Sanford, Weezy herself, as Marvin Bookman's wife, and she gives a spirited performance. Also on board is Paul Winfield as Reverend Dorsey, a man caught in all the crossfire. All of what's going on around him might seem awfully familiar, as Winfield was in Gordon's War (1973), as Gordon himself. Could this be where Gordon ended up? Fan favorites Charles Napier, Wings Hauser, and Robert Forster - enough to support their own movie right there - are also on board, but in glorified (or not so glorified) cameos.

All of these familiar names are appreciated, and add to the fun and the texture of the overall movie, but, as often happens, when there's TOO many people, roles have to be necessarily small and characters get lost in the shuffle. Even the great Roundtree and O'Neal are essentially second fiddle. We noted the young Shyheim Franklin (credited as solely "Shyheim" in the opening credits, but with the full name for the end credits) as Dink. He stood out, of all people, amongst the pack.

There are a few things you can always count on with a Fred Williamson flick - his cool, his charisma, he'll be chomping a cigar, and there will be a live performance in a club or bar. In this case, he got the Chi-Lites, which was a good get. Like a lot of other modern-day Freds like Down N' Dirty and GONE!, when the older actors are on the screen, classic soul music plays. When the young punks are on (and they actually get called punks by their elders), rap plays. So, to counter the Chi-Lites, in a party scene we can see Bushwick Bill and Scarface, though they don't perform. That symmetry could only come from the mind of the great director Larry Cohen. Even we don't know if that last sentence was sarcastic or not, but Fred is credited as co-director of OG's.

Other things we learned: Jim Brown looks badass in a British Knights jacket, there is an actual place called East Chicago, Indiana (where some of the movie was shot), and if you don't like Fred Williamson, you probably have mental problems. While OG's would never come near the movie theater today, it certainly did back then, which must have been nice for everyone involved. I (Brett) even remember seeing commercials for it on TV when I was 15 or 16. It could certainly be said that this movie set the stage for the DTV Freds that came in its wake, as stylistically it is very similar.

Though OG's predates the show South Park (only by one year, however), there are dramatic and tear-filled readings of the line "they killed Kenny!" - other mentions of people killing Kenny are said throughout the film's running time. We know it's just a coincidence (or IS it?) but it did kind of help to keep the movie in the goofy zone. There are people out there that are disappointed that OG's wasn't some sort of serious treatise on the issue of gang violence. We think the filmmakers should have gone more in the other direction: how awesome would it have been to have seen Weezy mowing down gang members with a machine gun? Or even doing Martial Arts…dare we suggest we missed an opportunity to see Weezy-Fu? Well, we should be happy with what we have.

For true OLD school Blaxploitation - though all involved probably hate that term - in the mid-90's, pretty much the only place to turn is Original Gangstas. It provides enough entertainment to sustain its running time (the cast alone could propel pretty much anything), and DTV/action die-hards should enjoy it, or at least appreciate it.
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Before there were The Expendables, there were Original Gangstas
dworldeater6 February 2017
I have always been a big fan of the blaxsploitation genre of the 70's and Original Gangsta's brings back most of the genre's biggest stars for this ensemble cast 90's action flick. The film is headlined by Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and is accompanied by Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree and Ron O'Neil. In this very stylish 90's flick former old school heavies reunite to bring street justice and reclaim their neighborhood from ruthless dope pushing gang, The Rebels. This is the same gang that our heroes founded in the 70's as a protection gang, that has de evolved to its current incarnation as Gary, Indiana has become economically depressed, crime and violence has been on the rise. This was a great vehicle for Fred Williamson and "The Hammer" is a great commanding presence here as the lead. At age 58, he still is plenty tough and cool in this and is one of my favorite performances for sure. This is driven by action and style and there is plenty of it to go around. The more dramatic scenes were well done also and has great support from Paul Winfield, Robert Foster and Wings Hauser. Larry Cohen director of classics Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem did a great job in directing this and The Hammer himself was producer as well. Christopher B Duncan and Eddie Bo Smith Jr. were great as villains Spyro and Damien. Plus be sure not too miss cameo's from Bushwick Bill and others as well as a real excellent 90's rap soundtrack. Original Gangstas is pretty much The Expendables for the blaxsploitation genre and I personally like this movie a lot.
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A nod to an OG!
PredragReviews2 January 2017
This is something like a re-union party of the so-called blaxploitation film stars, which shows the whole world that those guys and ladies are still sexy and strong enough to teach some lessons to the young, disrespectful punks in the neighborhood of the city of Gary, Indiana. That's all about the story, which is as uninspired as any B-action flicks. "Original" gangstas come back to town, to fight against the "new" gangsters that rule the street with terror. The charm of the film lies in the cast, which looks a dream team for any fans of the 1970's blaxploitaion films. Here they are back in good form: Fred Williamson ("Black Caesar"), Jim Brown ("Slaughter"), Pam Grier ("Coffy"), Richard Roundtree ("Shaft") and Ron O'Neil ("Superfly") and you got also players like Robert Forster (who in the following year makes a smashing collaboration with Pam Grier in "Jackie Brown") and Wings Hauser in his very unlikely role. It is a gift from the heaven for the movie fans like me.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
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A sense of place - recommended for town planners and architects
manuel-pestalozzi12 June 2003
This movie is correctly graded as a B picture. And yet it is more: an honest hommage to a real, existing town in the throes of death. Before I picked up Original Gangstas as a cheap video cassette, I did not know that the town of Gary existed. I didn't even know a town like Gary could exist (this proves once more: maybe we Europeans are kind of naive in the ways we evaluate the US's wealth and power and its effects.). Now I know better.

There is a certain similarity between this film and Jules Dassin's legendary documentary/crime movie The Naked City of 1948. Both use a style that wants to "tell a city". With the title credits the town is introduced to the viewers, with aereal footage, ordinary street scenes and a voice-over that tells something about the history of the town and a few selected buildings (the bakery, the cinema etc.). It is really educational. Very good location shooting gives a vivid impression of the specific urban wasteland. Gary becomes a real place. I also had the impression that the mood of the people who are forced or willing to live in present day Gary is accurately recorded: A mixture of anger, shame and - above all - fear. People are desperate, they don't see a future and the affiliation of youngsters to a gang appears for many to be the only way to survive.

In the story the main character played by Fred Williamson (also the producer and a Gary native who certainly put some very personal feelings into this movie) descends on the town as an aging "knight in shining armour". He assembles his old, middle aged buddies (plus Pam Grier!) and stages a war against the gangs. I did not care much for the story and its action scenes with unvariably high death tolls, but I must admit that this movie realistically highlights in a specific place a specific problem that is disquieting and difficult to solve.
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Excellent Low Budget Action--No Matter What The Star Says
curtis-816 January 2005
It has always amazed me how the star of this film, Fred Williamson, has gone to such great lengths to badmouth this flick and the work of his former friend, writer-director Larry Cohen. I've read it and I've heard it on DVD audio commentaries--"Hiring Larry for Original Gangstas was a mistake," Williamson says. Yet he has nothing but praise for his own work as a writer-director.

Is the Hammer on crack, or what? This is a very slick, very cool little low budget action flick that shows the old time stars to great advantage. Cohen did a great job. In fact, if you took all the good parts from every movie that Fred Williamson produced and directed himself and put them together, the film you'd end up with would still be 1/100th the film this one is (of course a compilation of "good parts" from Hammer's self-directed flicks would only be 15 minutes long).

I love Fred Williamson. His pre-1976 movies like "Black Caesar" and "Bucktown" are classics, and I like him as a performer. I'd LOVE to see him work in more mainstream movies, as a lead. But the man has only been in three halfway decent films in the past quarter century: "Starsky and Hutch," "From Dusk Til Dawn," and "OG." And "OG" is the best of the three in my opinion. His self produced-directed efforts, his Italian-Euro cheapazoid flicks--they ALL rank as some of the absolute worst movies of all time.

So, don't listen to the star of the show, just watch the movie. "Original Gangstas" is a solid flick.
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Can't Live Up To Concept
ReelCheese22 May 2007
I found the concept of this film irresistible. Who wouldn't want to see Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Pam Grier -- they of '70s blaxploitation action fame -- back kickin' some butt again. Unfortunately, ORIGINAL GANGSTAS doesn't live up expectations. The plot sees cigar-chompin' Williamson returning home after his elderly father is nearly killed by thugs for giving police information on a deadly drive-by. Freddy soon teams up with Brown and Grier for some vigilante justice that comes far too little, too late for the viewer. After a reasonably strong start, the film unravels in a myriad of awful dialog, uninteresting subplots and a lack of action. If you're looking for a better film about an aging vigilante, try the later DEATH WISH entries.
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Blaxploitation with Veterans
wolfhell8815 November 2001
A blaxploitation-movie with the stars of this genre, Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Richard Roundtree, Ron O'Neal and Pam Grier. One year before "Jackie Brown" Pam Grier and Robert Forster starred together in this movie. B-movie veterans like Charles Napier and Wings Hauser complete the cast and that is a good reason to watch this movie.
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Why is this film so disappointing?
chas7711 February 2004
This film does not work.

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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Let's Do it Blaxploitation Style!
jprice-48 March 2005
"Original Gangstas" is a movie written by Aubrey Rattan and directed by Larry Cohen, released by the now-defunct Orion Pictures (now part of MGM) and Po' Boy Productions.

This movie leads with an all-star cast staring Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, the late Paul Winfield ("Sounder", "King"), Charles Napier, Wings Hauser, Robert Forster, the late Ron O'Neal ("Superfly"), the late Isabel Sanford (Louise on "The Jeffersons), and Richard Roundtree of "Shaft".

With Christopher B. Duncan ("The Jamie Foxx Show"), Eddie Bo Smith, Jr., and Dru Down.

In an urban Gary, Indiana. From a drive-by-shooting, to a attempted murder of grocery-store owner Marvin Bookman (Oscar Brown Jr.), John Bookman (Williamson) comes back and reunites with his friends and gets revenge on the gang they created years back.

I give it 10/10.
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This is a powerful film and I'd love for you to see it.
paul vincent zecchino11 October 2010
This is a powerful film and I hope you see it. Caught it here recently on THIS TV Network, so likely it will come around again.

The opening scenes of Gary, Indiana present as an arresting message of what happens to prosperity when do-gooders, Wowsers, Uplifters, Eco-messiahs, Carrie Nations, lunatics, and other chronic nuisances chase industry and jobs away in the name of saving something or other. Plants close and shortly rust. People quit their homes and leave them to face nature's relentless onslaught along with the thugs who move in and make them into Den's of iNiquity.

Richard Roundtree, Fred Williamson, Ron 'Superfly' O'Neil, they're all here along with the great Pam Grier, Jim Brown - Captain Anders in 1968's "Ice Station Zebra", along with the late and very much missed Paul Winfield who evinced touching cinemagic in 'Green Eyes'.

Even if you don't enjoy films in general, let alone the Blaxploitation genre, anyone who's into UE, Urban Exploration, sometimes called Industrial Archaeology - and if you're not, you should be - you'll swoon as serial images of one decrevalent building after another after oxydizing blast furnace after abandoned ten storeys-high heat stoves march across your screen. Yes, Gary, Indiana in "Original Gangstas" is prime Urban Exploration territory.

The film's message is poignant as ever: Don't incite people, particularly those wise in years, to righteous indignation. It's an unwise practice to do so.

Be sure to watch for the David Lynch-esquire visual anachronisms, e.g. the film takes place in 1996, yet many police cruisers hail from the 80s as well as the 90s. The Gangstas drive cars whose model years span a fifty year period, thus keeping you off balance until the stunning conclusion.

The wry humor, "there goes the neighborhood", will catch you off guard as well, and send you tumb-bumbling off the couch, onto the floor, and scurrying to your video store for your own copy of "Original Gangstas". If you don't own a copy of this, you should. Now. So do it. Now.

Paul Vincent Zecchino

Manasota Key, Florida

11 October, 2010
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Larry Cohen reunites 70s stars in this mid 90s urban drama.
ja-191-28046526 October 2014
I watched "Original Gangstas" for the first time on BET many years ago. At first, I didn't know what to expect. But when I saw Fred Williamson, I knew I'd be in for a real treat. This is a film that tackles inner city violence and poverty. The narration in the beginning of the film gives viewers a wonderful insight on the lives of the old and new generation of Gary, Indiana and the problems that led to the deterioration of the city. The film revolves around the classic actors of the blaxploitation genre; a couple of OG's who team up to rid their town of crime and gang violence bought on by a ruthless gang called The Rebels. Most of the action happens after a promising athlete gets gunned down in a phone booth after a hustle gone wrong. The drama continues when the elderly owner of a grocery store is severely beaten and hospitalized shortly after. That's when the legendary football player John Bookman (Fred Williamson) shows up to kick ass and take names. The film also stars Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree, Paul Winfield, Ron O'Neal, Isabel Sanford and Christopher B. Duncan of "The Jamie Foxx Show". All of the actors are really good to watch and the dialogue is simple and straight forward without seeming too over the top. Although not a groundbreaking film, "Original Gangstas" is, in fact a poignant film with a great message. It definitely reminds you of the importance of fighting for a cause and standing up for what you believe in no matter what. And who better to learn that from than a couple of OG's who still got it like that ! Two thumbs up !!
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Probably Larry Cohen best.
josephmonaghan-341457 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I will consider it a blood sequel to Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem always been a big fan of Larry Cohen the stuff wicked stepmother the ambulance Q Bone and the private files of J. Edgar hoover but having an ensemble cast from 70s blaxploitation films makes this film brilliant
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A veteran cast make this worth watching
sanjuro-1227 July 1999
A veteran cast make this update of the blaxploitation genre worth watching. Fred Williamson (Black Caesar), Jim Brown (Slaughter), Pam Grier (Coffy/Foxy Brown), Richard Roundtree (Shaft) and Ron O'Neal (Superfly) join forces to combat the newer, younger version of the same gang they formed some twenty years prior. Not enough Roundtree or O'Neal and barely enough action but a decent enough entry. For fans of the genre.
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Sad, but true!
Woodbutcher6824 March 2012
As somebody who lives in the city just West of Gary, I can tell you that it does exist and is in worse shape than the movie portrayed. The gangs may be different but crime is still rampant. A lot of the buildings in the movie are still there, in worse shape than what was in the movie and they still film there when they want to show a disaster zone. The city relied too heavily on the former U.S. Steel to support it. As the mill downsized and other industry moved out,"White Flight" and corrupt politicians began the death knell. There are a lot of good people there who are trying to make things better, but aren't having a lot of success. It's really a shame, it was a beautiful city at one time. I did enjoy the movie enough to watch it a couple times.
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Bit overdone, but none the less, classic.
ReservoirDog663 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Having grown up in after the Blaxploitation era, in cinema, i never really got a chance to see any of the movies starting: Fred Williamson, Richard Roundtree, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, or Ron O'Neal. This being the first film i saw with all of them in it.

Williamson plays John Bookman, a former leader of the Rebels in the 70's, who comes back to Gary, to find his former town, as gang hell. Now, this might be considered a spoiler, by some.

: The fight scenes in the movie, the hand to hand combat, has been overdone, with dramatic music and the aging fighting of Williamson, not being on the same level :

Still, the movie has given a dramatic feel, with some of the score to the film. Another spoiler, i apologize for this, but the best part of the movie.

:: When Bookman and Trevor are in the drive by shooting, to declare war on the New Rebels, it is a pivotal point in the film, wondering how it will end ::

The movie is excellent, as it showcases the ideas of the older generation vs. the new generation, how the two are out of touch with one another.

An interesting fact about this movie, is the fact that criminals were used as extras/actors in the movie. It was also interesting to see Isabel Sanford ( The Jeffersons ), in this movie.

In Closing, Original Gangstas is not on the level that Die Hard or Under Siege would be on, but for a better than average film, be sure to pick up Original Gangstas.
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Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
BobJenkinsPhD11 June 2014
From the swaggy gentlemen at Po' Boy Productions, comes "Original Gangstas", a film that is as engrossing as it is hilarious. This painfully average film almost manages to keep the viewers glued to their seats for decent portions of the movie.

Fred "The Hammer" Williamson headlines what could be described as a surprisingly good cast, at least in terms of blaxploitation standards. At the ripe age of 58, Fred has shown no signs of slowing down, and I was extremely impressed at the old man's youthfulness and his flair for kicking ass. Fred is joined by industry mediumweights Pam Grier, Jim Brown, & Richard Roundtree.

The movie takes place in the Hammer's hometown of Gary, Indiana. When a bunch of young, ignorant pranksters initiate a crime wave within the city, the Hammer decides to take matters into his own hands. The storyline is pretty solid, and the veteran actors turn in decent performances.

On the other hand, the younger guys in this movie didn't seem to know how to act at all. They weren't very believable, and "Dru Down" deserves a special mention, as he may be one of the worst actors I've ever seen. This ignoramus couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. A department store mannequin would have sufficed. With that said, the dialogue is above average. This film is full of great one-liners you can playfully recite with your friends while conversing at Chuck-E-Cheese. The action scenes were rough but entertaining. There is a scene where the Hammer round-house kicks a guy to the face, which causes the victim to conveniently land on a randomly placed mattress.

At times, this movie comes off like it was produced by some Mickey Mouse operation based out of the Cayman Islands. We're not dealing with a cinematic masterpiece here, folks. Nevertheless, this film will suffice for a day in order to cure boredom. However, if you're a fan of the Hammer, or blaxploitation films, or hilarious fight scenes, then you'll enjoy this movie.
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Original Get-Off-My-Lawnaz
wackadoo1 April 2010
You have to wonder who this movie was aimed at, since it shows a bunch of old dudes killing young gang members, bad mouthing them and telling them to behave. (One half expects Fred "the Hammer" to strap one of the youths over his knee and dole out a spanking!) The young listen to "horrible" rap and the old listen to old soul songs. The old talk more "white" and the young are more into hood culture and talk slang. It may be valuable as an explication of generation gaps in black culture.

The film itself is a pretty silly action film that lacks the inspiration of its 70's genre film forebears. The action takes place mostly in the dark and you cant see much of whats going on. There are some big explosions that look pretty good though. The soundtrack is made up of dated new jack stylings, not as lively or memorable as "Coffy is the color of her skin" or "the Slaughter theme".

Disappointingly, Pam Grier is given second banana status and doesn't kick that much ass, or sexily vamp it up like she did in her 70s classics. She is a dutiful member of the family/crew.

The movie explores issues of race, class, urban decay and gang violence in a ham-fisted, unconvincing way. Worth seeing for the blaxploitation completists out there, but not a priority for anyone with a passing interest in the genre.

The DVD has a disappointing non-anamorphic transfer.
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