Strike One (2014) Poster


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Danny Trejo Pours Heart & Soul Into "Strike One"
LatinHeatMedia26 August 2015
Trejo Delivers His Best Performance Ever!

Latino or Black youth living in our urban communities have more than just their environment to contend with. More than gangs. They have a juvenile criminal system that works against them— the Three Strikes Law— a threat with power to send young lives down a spiral spin for the rest of their lives.

What is fascinating about "Strike One," the new indie film by David Llauger Meiselman, is how realistic he portrays life in an urban community like Los Angeles' Boyle Heights—where the scales of justice is lopsided where fairness is determined by which side of the street you live on.

Danny Trejo delivers one of his best performances ever. A very different role for him, who is considered one of the best character actors of his generation and there could be no one better to narrate this film. Trejo's road to success has been hard earned. He grew up on the streets of Los Angeles and despite spending part of his youth and early adulthood incarcerated, Trejo rose to great accomplishment.

Is his role in "Strike One" art imitating real life? It could have been, but in the film, there is only the promise of one man willing to do anything to protect his nephew from the hardships he experienced.

Llauger-Meiselman brings a new urgency to the dangers lurking about in a community where Latino youth faced with the temptations of a gang-criminal life and an unjust law that shadows them like a predator waiting to arrest and throw them away through a broken juvenile criminal law system.

Through his subjective camera, Llauger-Meiselman brings an intimate connection by allowing the movie audience to know exactly how his characters feel, or want to feel, or fear to feel.

"Strike One" unfolds with Juan Garcia (Johnny Ortiz), a boy on the threshold of manhood who is living in a gang-controlled neighborhood. His role models could not be further apart: His older sister Angie (Maria Isa)—a single mom, struggling in the white corporate world; and his uncle Manny (Trejo), an ex-gang member, who has fallen into an acting career playing gang bangers since his release from prison. Juan is caught between a sister he loves and an uncle he respects and admires. And then there is that deadly web of gang affiliation and the judicial system created to work against him.

Breakout artist, Johnny Ortiz (McFarland USA, American Crime), in his very first film, is an impressive Juan. Ortiz comes from a Los Angeles suburb not unlike Boyle Heights, and has stated that had it not been for this role, he might have been the real-life Juan.

The reason this film and its storyline is important is because California's Three Strike Law devastates the lives of 80% of the youth living in targeted communities like Boyle Heights. "Strike One" should be a mandatory must-watch film for all Latino and Black youth.

It was wonderful to once again see Billy Gallo as Sgt. Veritas give a powerful performance. Veritas and Manny have an old ax to grind. Alma Martinez, as Juan's mother is believable with the way she brings dignity as Juan's mother. Veteran actors James Russo, Reginald VelJohnson and French Stewart, Lawrence Smiglys and Zahn McClarnon round out the cast and they do not disappoint.

"Strike One" has a fantastic soundtrack of original hip-hop and Latin beat music. Johnny Wilson did a phenomenal job with composing the music.

From start to finish, "Strike One" is exciting, gritty and real. Movie viewers will leave with a better understanding of the challenges faced by everyone living in communities like Boyle Heights– where they must deal with "life chose me" circumstances like the family portrayed in the film.

Entertaining. Great Performances—with a dramatic interpretation of how devastating the Three Strikes Law is.

–Latin Heat/Latinowood Review
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An amazing story about a young boy whose life gets turned upside down
lourdescolo27 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This film not only moved me, it truly made me think on how our society has flaws that can affect the outcome of an innocent child. It is moving, tensed, and keeps you wanting to know what happens next. I love films that do that. It shows you the love of a family and the lack of. What it takes to be a family in East Los Angeles. How one misunderstanding can turn your life around while another life is overlooked on the harm they do simply because of the status in their community. You have a rich white lawyer who has an addiction to drugs and is allowed to go through life without suspicion, yet a young Hispanic kid associates with gang members in his neighborhood and this makes him guilty of everything, because the law says he did. This film is truly a must watch.
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One of the most powerful films I ever seeing!
marychuyphoto28 September 2015
Strike One is of of the most inspiring films I had ever seeing! I really recommend this movie to everyone and especially to all parents; As a mother I was really moved by the story of Juan Gracia. The film message is powerful and educational at the same time. The writing is amazing, and the Director and producers really did a good job casting the right actors, Johnny Ortiz, Danny Trejo, Maria Isa, Alma Martinez each of them are truly amazing on each of their roles. The photography of Strike One is also spectacular! If you have the opportunity to attend one of their screenings, go and see this film!!!I promise that you would not regret! and tell of you friends about it too, together we can help bring this very important message to all parents.
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A realistic look at the temptations of gang life in the hard streets of Los Angeles
screenwryter-195-4104651 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Strike One kept me wanting more from the first scene. The director, David Llauger Meiselman did an outstanding job bringing an accomplished screenplay to life. When watching the film one really feels Los Angeles through a mosaic of street scenes and graffiti. "Strike One" doesn't just transport it's viewers to Los Angeles, but also highlights life in the tough under belly of Los Angeles. Llauger Meiselman does a phenomenal job walking the line and the urban feel of the movie does not come off as a "Hollywood interpretation". This is not a "ghetto glamorization", but rather the feel of the movie is gritty, and the story lives right there.

Danny Trejo gives the most solid performance that I have seen in his canon of work. His character is the epitome of art imitating life. His character Manny Garcia has a soft heart with regard to his family and in particular his nephew. It was very refreshing to see Trejo stretching passed his hard as nails tough guy street thug that he normally plays. There is realism to his part as he attempts to protect his nephew from going down the same path that he had taken.

"Strike One" illustrated how a kid in a gang controlled area can see joining a gang as a viable option for survival. As the audience watches the story unfold it is difficult to know which way the character Juan Garcia (portrayed brilliantly by Johnny Ortiz) will choose, and the either path seems not only viable, but the right path. This is what makes the film so great. Strike One doesn't make the life of the gang member wrong, but rather shows why it happens.

Speaking of Johnny Ortiz it has to be written that this kid is destined to be one of the Hollywood greats! He delivers a solid performance as Juan Garcia and was a treat to watch. He was the breakout performance in a cast of solid and competent actors.

The cast was another strong point to the film. Many times when watching independent films the caliper of performance is all over the place, but not so with "Strike One". Maria Isa, Billy Gallo, and Leo Oliva bring great performances, of course rounded out by Ortiz and Trejo.

The film is impressive. But when one learns that it was an independent film, it becomes an even more impressive film. The story is strong, the directing is masterful, and the acting is rich and engaging.
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What a great film Strike One! It hits you in so many levels.
trueformfilms4 October 2015
Watching this film made me more aware of how important a stable family, parent guidance and love are so necessary for our children to have a chance at a decent , successful life. I recommend this film to see some true grit and excellent acting by Zahn M. and Johnny O. It is one of Danny Trejos' most honest performances. You get to experience Los Angeles is so many levels; the beauty, grit and truth of the barrio life. This is a great film showing us the importance of the choices we make in life. There is a price to pay in life, regardless of who you are, where you come from... Your choices create your future. And also your surroundings help or damage your chance in life! A Must See!
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Authentic, Entertaining and Eye-Opening
fionafarrahi27 September 2015
I loved how identifiable and authentic the cast of characters were. The moment you are introduced to Juan in the film, you are rooting for him. You see your little brother or cousin in him and you can't help but want some divine intervention to come into his life. You also see clearly how easy it is to get caught up in the illusion of security that the streets offer. Danny Trejo was brilliant in this. It was nice to see him play such a layered, multidimensional character.

In short, the film is a must see from the cast and storyline to the edgy directing. I'm looking forward to seeing more work by David Llauger Meiselman.
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Eye-opening drill-down into the Latino perspective that few outsiders likely fully understand
mapaul-627169 November 2015
First let me say that I'm not usually a fan of indie films, but I really enjoyed Strike One. I'm your typical moviegoer who likes big budget stuff but in the end I'm more of a story nut. Fortunately, that's where Strike One really shines.

In a nutshell, I'd describe the film as a deep dive exploration into what real life is like on the tough streets of any major city (in this case L.A.) and how different cultures define the words "respect" and "power" depending on where they grew up and what the rules are on those streets. It was eye-opening considering that, where I grew up, respect meant using your brain whereas on the streets, it often means using your brawn.

The message of the film is that it's not about where you grew up or where you started; it's about where you're at and where you're going. What I enjoyed most about this film was that it got to the heart of the story without all the typical Hollywood glitz and glamor—the car chases, shoot-outs, etc.—which is great for a lot of movies where the story is lacking or they need time to fill two hours. Aside from a few directional choices, I found it was a very fast way to spend just under two hours in a chair, which means it was thoroughly enjoyable.

If you've ever wondered why some people try to act gangster or want to appear like they're hood, this movie will answer that question. It will open your eyes to the struggles these kids (who become adults) face daily. It'll make you think differently the next time you see a young blood walking the streets. What's more, the two lead actors in the film are both the real deal. Danny Trejo and Johnny Ortiz have both been in the slammer, and while their acting probably won't meet your typical expectations of Hollywood's big -budget films, they will meet expectations for giving off an authentic Latino vibe that can only be given by those in the know, who have been there.

David Llauger-Meiselman and the entire crew did a great job blending storytelling, art, cinematography, and a great message into a great movie that is worth your time and expense.

Definitely worth a look, and is one of those movies you wish Hollywood would produce more of.
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Highly recommend this movie
Dijulias7031 December 2016
I really enjoyed this movie and didn't realize that Danny Trejo was such a good actor. Never saw him in such a dramatic role before. It was a really good story: gritty and what I believe is realistic in the portrayal of the challenges faced by a Latino inner city youth, it drives home the fact that young kids can so easily find themselves on the wrong path and how this can lead to long term consequences.

The main character and the rest if the supporting cast also put forth emotional and heartfelt performances.

I would recommend this movie to anyone wanting a good story and thought provoking subject matter.
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