Original Gangstas (1996)

R   |    |  Action, Crime, Drama


Original Gangstas (1996) Poster

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 ... See full summary »


5.7/10
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  • Original Gangstas (1996)
  • Original Gangstas (1996)
  • Original Gangstas (1996)
  • Jim Brown and Fred Williamson in Original Gangstas (1996)
  • Original Gangstas (1996)
  • Original Gangstas (1996)

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12 June 2003 | manuel-pestalozzi
A sense of place - recommended for town planners and architects
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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Genres

Action | Crime | Drama | Thriller

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