(Hy)Lights #8: Original Gangstas

Original Date: January 14, 2013

So, I haven’t done any of the (Hy)Lights for a while, mainly because my other works have been preoccupying me, whether it’s Anime Discovery (and there have been lots of requests for anime to me to review, which is good and all but now I got enough anime to review that might last me 2 years), whatever movie reviews or movie-related things, or personal life in general…..plus, that internet fiasco in November suffered my creativity for that since and now after 3 months of absence, (Hy)Lights is back with one different rule, as in, I’m doing this on my own time and also will looking into a bit of past live-action content (movies, TV) as well as current and on today’s subject, it’s old, mature former gangstas vs. young, wild and full of shit gangstas…..that live in Gary, Indiana.


This is Original Gangstas.


Marvin Bookman is a small shop owner in Gary, Indiana after he sees a drive-by shooting of Laurie Thompson’s (Pam Grier) son by a local gang; he gives up the license number of the car to the police. The gang doesn’t like this so they go to the store and rough him up. Soon, John Bookman (Fred Williamson) comes to town to set the wrong things right. With the help of Laurie and his old friend Jake (Jim Brown), they attempt to take back the streets and show the new breed of gang members what the true originals can do.

Now when I first saw this and read about it, I was liking the concept of using classic ‘70s Blaxploitation stars such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, & Jim Brown in this type of vigilante justice Death Wish style of movie, which can get fans of those people and this movie and possibly relive those moments but unfortunately as the premise may sound unoriginal but promising to an extent, the final product just ended up being a drag to watch.


Now, first off is some of the dialog, which feels much cliché but more in an irritating way, especially from the performances of the so-called gangstas. I get that they are the type that don’t give a fuck about authority, they kill without remorse and will execute anybody that crosses them but in the end, they’re the dumbest and non-threatening bunch of gangstas I ever seen on screen although I have seen worse performances from other people and I’ll get into that part…….now.

As for performances, the main three stars Fred Williamson, Pam Grier & Jim Brown did deliver the best they can out of a poorly-written script and lacking direction, especially the director Larry Cohen, who actually directed a variety of movies (Black Caesar, Perfect Stranger 1984, It’s Alive) in his heyday and I can see why he is just a screenwriter as of today. Now the most worst and polarizing performance comes from Christopher B. Duncan as Spyro, one of the gang’s leaders……First, he names himself a video game character that is a dragon and it’s fucking Braxton from the Jamie Foxx Show and if you watch that show, you can see why he doesn’t fit the part of playing a gangster. Maybe he can be a good actor but much like Christopher Mintz-Plasse in his McLovin’ phrase, he can’t escape that.

Other actors and performances known are Isabel Sanford (Weezy from The Jeffersons), Charles Napier, Scarface (the rapper) in a short cameo and Robert Forster, which is strange because this movie came out in 1996 and guess what movie, came after this and he and Pam Grier were in? Come on, guess. I’m not going to. As for the others, they aren’t worth mentioning due to them either being virtually nonexistent or just plain bad, even for a B-movie like this.


I also thought at first, this looks like a direct-to-DVD release since it really had the look and feel to it but this was released in theaters by defunct movie production company Orion Pictures and guess what? It was released the same time as Jan De Bont’s Twister and it flopped….kind of, only earning $4 million out of its $5 million budget……OK, I don’t know if it classifies as a bomb or not, but it was close earning back the budget of the movie.



FINAL VERDICT: It’s really a forgettable and dragging movie that you would probably end up watching it on TV….on a premium channel (Starz) with cussing and violence intact. The action is mainly minimal considering it sells itself as that and other subplots often either disappear and thrown into the fire chamber.


So, what does OG Original Gangstas earn?

5/10 – RENTAL




And there you have it. Another (Hy)Light done and more to come (just not much) into 2013 and until then……


I’m MAK2.0 aka The Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.


ORIGINAL GANGSTAS – courtesy of MGM/Orion Pictures Corporation


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