Plot: What’s it about?
I’m gonna be honest here, this movie’s plot is unimportant and can be summed up in one sentence. But just because storytelling isn’t the focus doesn’t mean the movie is bad, because it’s not. You just don’t watch a movie like this for complex plot movement, you watch this to see some old school ass whippin’! Here’s a brief rundown of what this movie tick, just for format’s sake. Bookman (Fred Williamson) used to live in what kids today call “tha ‘hood,” but was able to escape the trials and tribulations of the area by playing football, which carried him to success in life. But while Bookman went on to bigger and better things, his father stayed back in the old neighborhood. When a local gang, one that Bookman helped start, ends up shooting Bookman’s father, he decides the time has come to return to his roots and settle up for this wronging. When he comes back, he quickly forms a new gang, consisting of his old crew, and readies for an all war for the streets. The young guys may have a lot of talk and some guns, but the old school posse has a couple decades of kicking ass behind them, and they’re looking to add some experience.
When this movie hit the theaters, I had my doubts about it, but I went ahead and gave it a try. While this isn’t a well made film, the elements I wanted were all there. You’ve got ass kicking, and a group of old school gangstas doing the ass kicking. Again, dialogue leaves much to be desired, but this isn’t what you want here, you want pure entertainment, and this movie delivers. It’s fantastic to see all these legends of “Soul Cinema” reunite, especially since they’re up to their old tricks of bustin’ heads. I recommend this movie with a very high commendation, as a rental for most, but a purchase for fans of the genre and stars.
This is nothing short of an all star line up of blaxploitation cinema, the only guy missing is Rudy Ray Moore, also known as Dolemite. You’ve got the classic ass kickers all present, and all giving just as powerful and entertaining turns as ever. At the lead of this cavalcade is Fred Williamson, who made a name for himself in such classics as Black Caesar, Hell Up In Harlem, The Black Punisher, and G.I. Bro. Modern fans will remember him in >From Dusk ‘Til Dawn and Blackjack. Other legends of the “Soul Cinema” present in this film include Jim Brown (Slaughter, Slaughter’s Big Rip-off), Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Scream Blacula Scream), Ron O’Neal (Superfly), and Richard Roundtree (Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score). These five are legends of the low budget 70s black action flicks, and I am very pleased to seem them together again. The supporting cast includes Isabel Sanford (Love at First Bite), Christopher Duncan, and Paul Winfield (Cliffhanger, The Terminator). According to the production notes, forty real life gang bangers appear in the movie as well.
Video: How does it look?
Original Gangstas is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. There is also a full frame version of the movie provided on the disc’s flip side. The colors appear full and bright, with no instances of oversaturation or bleeding. Contrast is top notch, with natural shadow depth and high visible detail levels. The disc is free from all but minor compression issues as well.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is an ass kickin’ movie, so of course the fight scenes are gonna rock more than others, but the soundtrack also packs a wallop. The surround track included offers a nice array of subtle and not so subtle audio, but always come across well. Dialogue is well replicated also, with good clarity and no separation problems.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The disc includes the original theatrical trailer, and an insert inside the case contains some production notes.