Plot: What’s it about?
Vusi Madlazi (Ice Cube) left his South African village when he was a young child, but he hasn’t lost a sense of where he came from. When he receives word that his father has passed away, Vusi decides to return to his previous home, for the funeral. After fourteen years away Vusi is on his way back to the home he left behind, but how much has changed his departure? Of course, one major difference is that Apartheid has ended, but another plague seems to have gripped many people there, one that is almost as destructive. As the demand for this new plague, drugs, increases, money and resources become available to those who control the product. As such, rival drug organizations are bound to run into each other, and battle over who has the rights to sell their merchandise. This type of war doesn’t just effect those involved, but also innocent people, which creates chaos and fear. When he arrives, he learns of the drug infestation, and learns his brother is not only an addict, but he also is in deep debt with a local drug lord (Ving Rhames). Vusi’s brother has been missing for some time now, and Vusi joins forces with his brother’s girlfriend (Elizabeth Hurley) to track him down and free him from whatever trouble he is in.
I have mixed feelings about this movie. It’s obvious that a suspense/action genre listing would serve the synopsis well, but that isn’t the approach always taken. Sure, there is some gunplay and plenty of suspense, but the movie tries to wedge in a message about drugs or freedom, or something, which bogs down the movie. I mean, how serious can you take a movie in which Ice Cube talks about how the white man oppresses him? Had the movie stuck with the action and suspense and laid off the sermon, this would have been a very good movie, but as it stands, it is a little below average in my mind. Aside from the moral lessons the film tries to kick down our throats, the movie is pretty good and fun to watch. The cinematography is excellent, especially the golden glow shots and the scenic camera work. If you can overlook the obvious political rhetoric, this is a decent way to spend an hour and a half. If you’re a technical or analytical movie lover, this isn’t your type of film though, this one’s a no brainer. If you haven’t seen it, if you like the storyline and stars, give it a rental and make the call.
This movie was directed and co-written by Darrell James Root, whose roots in South Africa show through in this, as well as most of his other movies. Root was born in South Africa, which shows the motivation behind the message in this film, although this is the wrong genre for delivering a political or social message. While lead actor Ice Cube (The Player’s Club, Three Kings) is hilarious in Friday and other comedy driven pieces, his work here is less than stellar. Perhaps a smaller role would have suited him better, but he just falls short here, often to a laughable extent. But, given the ridiculous inclusion of the political message, it’s easy to overlook Cube’s mediocre performance. Stealing the show is Elizabeth Hurley (Austin Powers, EdTv), who gives an over the top turn here as a heroine addicted stripper. Hurley is hilarious, and continues the pace of the other actors, which is acting so bad that it’s good. The supporting cast here includes Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Mission: Impossible), Wilson Dunster (Yankee Zulu, Operation Delta Force), Robert Whitehead (Ernest Goes To Africa, Kickboxer 5), and Toni Caprari (Back To Freedom).
Video: How does it look?
Dangerous Ground is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full screen version also included on this dual layered disc. The cinematography showcases some wonderful scenic shots, and the natural color scope and accurate contrast levels make sure the image always looks awesome. The colors are bright, but stay within a natural spectrum, and flesh tones are natural and consistent. The blacks are sharp and well defined, while the lighter areas never bloom or distort. The transfer shows no signs of compression errors, another top notch New Line transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
This film has a mixture of audio styles, some scenes are quiet and reserved, while others are loud and explosive. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track never wavers though, and handles even the harshest transitions without a hitch. There is some major gunplay, and those scenes will have the surrounds pulsing, you’ll feel like the guns are aimed right at you. But the track does the more subtle sequences well also, with all the nuances and small impact audio coming across well. The dialogue is clear and consistent as well, no serious issues to find with this track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains some talent files as well as the original theatrical trailer.