23 November 2005 | roddick-1
Great if you look past the obvious
I was quite keen to see Gang Tapes being a fan of 'hood movies but it was not an easy task. Being reasonably unknown in general and not what would usually come to mind when the topic of ghetto/hood/gang banging movies is brought up (that spot is usually reserved for "Boyz N The Hood" and "Menace II Society"), it wasn't at any of the video shops I visited. After looking for it for some time I eventually gave up. But last week I was searching for a good movie at my video shop when I noticed they had bought a copy of "Gang Tapes".I rented it out and found it was worth the wait.
What would draw most people away from this movie is the cover, R18 rating and a grisly summary or review on the back. But despite all this the movie is not overly violent at all. There are some pretty bad moments that makes this definitely not a family movie, but I still don't think it deserves an R18. The only over the top thing in this movie is the offensive language, but that probably wouldn't faze anyone because bad language is commonplace in all 'hood movies.
Some people have said that it is pointless because all it does is show gang life. Which is true. It does realistically show gang life, but that is no reason to put it down. Now, I'm not saying that "Gang Tapes" is better than "GoodFellas", but "GoodFellas" just shows life in the mafia and nobody puts it down.
One might say it is "just another 'hood movie" and it is another 'hood movie, but Adam Ripp (director and writer) and the rest of the crew have managed to make it different from the others. For starters, it is filmed all from the point of view of a young teenage boy living in South Central L.A. which is an original twist. Another interesting thing is that the bulk of the main cast are all gang members, ex-gang members or have grown up in South Central and have added realism to the story and dialogue. The writers have also made the plot different from what you would usually see in movie of this genre.
The acting is probably better than what most people would expect. As I said before, the gang members are played by actual gang members so they are easily able to pull it off. And performing on camera doesn't matter to them because it's meant to be a home video, so they can look at the camera etc.
Thumbs up for director and co-writer Adam Ripp. Watching the special features I can see he is very passionate about his movie. I feel sorry for him because his movie didn't really become as popular as some other 'hood movies, but at least he knows he made a great movie. Thumbs up for the cast and crew as well.
Overall this is a great movie if you look past the obvious. Anybody who is a fan of 'hood movies should love it and if you are someone who isn't you should still check it out and remember some of the points I made above.