Riot (1997 TV Movie)
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An anthology of sorts, the first "story" depicts the looting and destruction of a Korean family's liquor store. The main focus is a teenage son, who wants desperately to rally against the mayhem, but realizes he's perilous to it. The unfortunate strike against this opener is both many moments of over *and* underacting.
Tale two sweeps up a young Latino male into the fray, and how he originally is against the chaos, but can't help becoming swept up in the benefit of it all. There's a terrific confrontation scene between he and an older brother on the streets amid all the initial excitement.
You had to figure there would be a law enforcement perspective, and that's seen next. Perry finds himself surrounded by both his police brethren, and the angry street mob he's trying to suppress. This is perhaps the weakest of the vignettes, as it takes quite a few liberties with real life. The first instance deals with a cop spouting off at a TV set in the department locker room. Of course, it's in defamation of Rodney King, but the fact that a white officer would be allowed to hurl racist rants at the screen --- with nary a black policeman present --- is ludicrous. There are no black officers at this precinct? Please. This is followed by white cops actually whooping it up at a black coffee shop as the King verdicts are read on a television. Beyond false and stupid.
Things are wrapped up with a black father-to-be trying to protect and evacuate his elderly family members from the flashpoint of unrest. Peebles carries things pretty well, and Cicely Tyson is very compelling as his beleaguered mother who is frozen by the violence. They very wisely intercut her own flashbacks of the 1965 Watts riots as a touchstone for what she's seeing before her in the present day.
As you can tell above, there's a great deal to be absorbed from all this, but also some negative mismash. Plus another element that takes away from the film is that these are not re-enactments, but moreso explorations. They capture what every ethnicity felt that day, but also reek of writer opinion. I mean, the fact that a black shop owner would be hit by a rock from a black rioter seemed a little over the top.
In the end, it was all handled better than I expected, and shed equal light on one of the bigger blights in the country's history.
kind of fails a bit but mostly it's a great film. It's got Melvin Van
Peebles in it, what mroe do you want? A proper late night TV film that I have now seen 3 times just by
chance. Mario Van P is his usual SUPERHAM self and Luke Perry
puts in a good performance as a "cop/Vanilla Ice from Cool as Ice
lookalike" and it's all good fun in a hard hitting issues based film
kind of way. I like the way they incorporated news footage. That works.
The latino quarter of the film is the weakest cos the main kid sucks
the proverbials in a major way.
Watch it, it's good.