Monday, December 17, 2007

Illegal Tender DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Latino-American Gangster Drama Released on DVD

American Gangster might have had a $100 million budget, but otherwise that overblown costume drama really doesn’t have much over this Latino version of the quintessential crime saga. There are certain staples one has come to expect of the genre, such as gobs of gratuitous violence, topless women bagging drugs in a backroom, and family loyalty as a rationale for reprehensible behavior.
Well, Illegal Tender features all of the above, as it was designed for fans of splatter flicks like Scarface and The Godfather. And while it falls short of those popular classics in terms of polish, it at least measures up to the typical blaxploits made by gangsta rappers since the early Nineties. If African-Americans deserved to see the cinematic equivalent of Crips and Bloods celebrated in movies, it seems only fair that the Latin Kings would eventually have an opportunity for equal screen time.
This adrenaline-charged tale of revenge and redemption opens in 1985, and revolves around a drug-dealing Puerto Rican named Wilson DeLeon (Manny Perez). At the point of departure, he’s killed by a double-crosser, so his widow, Millie (Wanda De Jesus), flees from New York City to raise her newborn in the safety of the suburbs.
She hides her husband’s sordid past from Wilson, Jr. (Rick Gonzalez) during his formative years, only to have it surface when he’s been groomed to be a model citizen. Seems that a gang of goons led by the backstabber (Gary Perez) who had murdered his dad has finally tracked down his secretly gun-totin’ mom to their home in Connecticut.
They’re prepared to slaughter her, too, so the question is whether Junior, a straight A-student at a prestigious East Coast college, is going to be a goody two-shoes or if he’s prepared to pick up a piece and defend his family’s honor.
Brainless bloodsport, Cholo-style. Can anybody say Latinosploit?

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity, violence and sexuality.
Running time: 108 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, a music video, “The Making of” featurette and more.

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