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7.3.09

Gang Warz (2004)




Director: Chris McIntyre
Starring: Robert Vaughn, Coolio, Chino XL, Teresa Saldana, Pablo Patlis, Reni Santoni
Rated R Running time: 97 min.
Released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment




Still scarred from the memories of Master P's Hot Boyz, I approached the similarly misspelled Gang Warz with a great deal of apprehension. The fact that the DVD comes with a free CD of cap-poppin' hip-hop jamz alone should've been reason enough to avoid this film like the probation officer. But my curiosity once again overrode my better judgment, and I was consumed with a burning desire to find out just what Robert Vaughn is doing for money these days.

Sporting orthopedic shoes and enormous glasses, Vaughn gets top billing as the hard-assed Chief Hannigan (even though the plaque on his desk says "Captain"). He's only in a couple of scenes, which is unforgivable. I mean, if Chuck Bronson could challenge belief at age 73 in Death Wish 5, why couldn't the Man from UNCLE get one last chance to employ a stunt double? Instead, the bulk of the film's action revolves around Chino XL, a rapper playing a cop. The film is basically an inner-city version of High Noon, with Marco Cruz (Pablo Patlis), a vicious gang lord and drug dealer who gets released from death row. Cruz is out for revenge against the priest who testified against him (Reni Santoni) and the cop who busted him (the aforementioned Mr. XL). The story gets more involved as they throw in a bunch of subplots involving Theresa Saldana as Cruz's mother (who is having an affair with the priest), Cruz's brother (who is having an affair with Marco's woman), and Coolio (the gangster who is trying to go legit). Coolio's dying words are, "It's all good."

Gang Warz is more like a Mexican soap opera than the gritty, urban action flick it's marketed as. Chino XL, with his skintight designer T-shirts and cornrows, is not only extraordinarily hard to buy as the principled cop in a department rife with corruption, he is a horrendous actor to boot. The rest of the cast look and act like they should be doing softcore porn for the cable channels. I'm not really sure how Saldana, Vaughn, and Santoni ended up in this clunker, but I hope they make it through these obviously hard times. Director Chris McIntyre gets a few points for attempting to make things a little more complex than your average ghetto potboiler, but loses them almost instantly for denying viewers of any kind of excitement whatsoever. A couple of weak shootouts make up the films' action, and the spicy Latina babes who appear in the film stay fully clothed. Who the hell does McIntyre think his audience is? I can tell you one thing for certain, not one of them decided to suffer through Gang Warz for it's meticulous plotting and subtle performances. We want boobs, blood, explosions, and Robert Vaughn doing karate kicks. To deny us of these simple pleasures is to relegate yourself to the cut-out bins of history.

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