South Central, 1992.
Directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson.
Starring Glenn Plummer, Byron Minns, Lexie Bigham and Christian Coleman.
In South Central, Los Angeles, Bobby, a gang member is put away in prison for ten years after committing a murder. During his time inside, he learns that his son is doomed to follow the same gang life as him.
In the film world, Los Angeles seems to be the city of lost hope, rather than the city of lost angels. Unless your looking at the rise of an up and coming star, you're looking at the down trodden ghettos; an extreme contrast to the glitzy Hollywood-land image of the town. Whilst no large city isn't a stranger to the strife of gang warfare, Los Angeles always seems to be one of the first five cities to pop into your head when it comes to the dreaded G word. So what better time to look into the gang problems of LA than the early Nineties?
South Central doesn't paint a glamorised image, nor does it paint an ugly one. From the hazy, sundrenched beginning, this clearly isn't paradise. Freed from a reason prison sentence, Bobby (Glenn Plummer) is reunited with his old gang, Hoover Street Deuces. As it turns out, during his big stretch inside, someone came outside; his new son Jimmy. No sooner than he high fives all his old homies, he's instantly pulled into a murder of a drug dealer. Naturally, the bars slam shut on him for the second time in his life. So far, so downtrodden.
Fast forward ten years and Jimmy is now a streetwise kid with aspirations of running with his father's old gang. Whilst in jail, Bobby has to deal with white supremacist and a worse foe; himself. Whilst there were some shocking moments in the story, there are a few too many moments that play out a little too predictable. Heart-warming, and possibly gripping, but predictable. However, the characters do show some development, even though we only see them ten years later. But they all stay trapped within their own personal prisons.
Bobby is trapped by his own anger, his girlfriend is trapped by her drug habit, the Deuces are trapped in a world of gang violence, whilst little jimmy is simply building his prison around him by getting involved in the gang. The feeling of futility is a constant theme is this movie and nothing appears to be glamorised one bit.
Up to its gripping finale, the film plays out calmly and with little sympathy to most of the characters involved. Don't expect anything too shocking that will blow you away like a drive-by, but don't cast this aside as some generic piece of Nineties nostalgia. South Central is an engrossing gang flick with heart, character determination.
Will Preston is a freelance writer from Portsmouth. He writes for various blogs (including his own website) and makes short films.
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