16 February 2001 | subgrav
Brit gangster fare
A great first-time film for Andrew Goth which is sure to disappoint a lot of Americans who seem to be able to decipher Bostonese, but have a hard time with English... The dialogue is gritty street slang, and the locales are real - the dismal British version of the working-class inner-city, telling the story of two gang-lords freshly sprung from prison. Goldie and Andrew Goth are cousins/brothers (it's never quite explained fully) and Goldie is basically obsessed with Goth (in a psycho-sexual kind of way). So when Goth decides to ditch the gangsta scene and hooks up with beautiful girl, Goldie naturally goes nuts and starts killing people.
Goth plays the part of the emotionally torn ex-gangsta well, trying to spend time redeeming himself at the local youth-club helping kids. The people there naturally distrust him at first for his former lifestyle, but they bond quickly enough to form a distinctly British version of a break-dance-troupe.
Goldie is brilliant as a thug - he probably draws from what he's seen as a younger lad - and plays a psychotic looney quite well... almost a little too convincingly - it's interesting to see him be the one NOT interested in music.
There is a sub-plot of Chinese gangs, which lends itself to some interest and is used to drive the plot, but is not explored quite enough. And then there's the presence of David Bowie, quite likely the reason people will rent this. He plays a cold, emotionless consiglieri and lawyer (homage to Godfather?) who keeps the gang's "honest" dealings, while blindly ignoring the murder and drug-pushing. Bowie plays the small but integral part brilliantly, in a very cold and sterile manner, proving his talent as an actor.
The movie is a great view into the criminal underworld of England - sometimes not understandable to Yanks who look to the gloss and floss of gangsta-rap and New Jack City for their dose of so-called criminal reality. This is a real world that the characters live in, where the poor people live side by side with drug pushers and killers, trying to survive despite the carnage and crime.
Highly recommended, but with a caveat - it isn't an Ice T rap video stretched out for 2 hours... This is decidedly British, with a lot of reference to their club, as well as inner-city culture, which differs greatly from the American version. Thus most of the movie will likely be undecipherable to American suburban white kids bred on MTV.