Gangland (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Can you say rip-off, kids?

The DVD box  for this movie says Costas Mandylor, Coolio, Ice T.  Coolio and Ice are in a prologue that is almost unrelated to the main storyline, and are both dead approximately when the credits stop. They are not resurrected.

Ok, that's kinda sleazy, but my real point here is this. I could understand it if you filmed one minute of Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, and placed their names on top of the box in order to sell the video. But how desperate do you have to be when you need to use Ice T's name as a positive? If I made a real movie with Ice T in it, I would insist that his name NOT appear on the box, for fear that you would see my movie on the shelf, and assume it to be a typically crappy low budget straight-to-vid.

But in this case, they are actually hoping you will assume it to be a typically crappy low budget straight-to-vid.

And they are right to do so.

That would be a big improvement.

The film starts with about five minutes of narration of an incredibly detailed and complex futuristic premise. In 2004 there was a bomb dropped, and then there was biological warfare, and then everyone got the plague, and then about 2007 they lost all the cows, thus assuring that Rice Krispies would never snap, crackle or pop again. After they lost the breakfast cereals, all law and the social order deteriorated, and then gangs took over the streets. Now two teams of scientists are working around the clock, one team rushing to complete a cure for the plague, the other feverishly trying to create a newer strain of Rice Krispies that can snap, crackle and pop without milk. OK, maybe the snap and pop are just a dream, but they think they can give the world crackle again. And with crackle, maybe, just maybe, some hope for the future.

If that weren't enough narration, there is a TV reporter coming on in nearly every scene to make his report from the action, thus obviating the need for establishing the place and background for the current scene. And it's just as well, because the entire movie is nothing but fist fights and gunfights, interrupted only long enough for the TV guy to tell us who's fighting, and to tell us what is going on elsewhere in the world. I'm not exaggerating when I say that if this film is 90 minutes long, 75 minutes of it is fight scenes. They pretty much say something like "hold on", and then assume a martial arts pose. And I mean everyone does this - including all the women, and even a Poindexter scientist working on a cure for the plague. It's pretty much like watching someone else play a martial arts video game, except the characters in a video game are more interesting.

Not to mention deeper.

Shallow Hal would be considered the Soren Kierkegaard of this world.

The evil guy in this future world is Lucifer, a guy who's trying to organize all the gangs of the United States together, so that they can exercise power under the leadership of ... well, him, actually. Did you think he was going to assemble them for fair elections?

"Mister Chairman, the gangs of Omaha, Nebraska, meatpacking center of the West, proudly cast their 11 .. (gunshot) .. sorry, Mr. Chairman, I mean their 10 votes for the next king of the unified gangs, Arbuckle W. Lucifer". (Wave banners, blow horns, throw confetti)"


There is some nudity toward the beginning of the film, but not from the top-liners. Mostly, there are just women in holding cells, waiting to be molested by important gang officials. There is also one unconscious woman topless in the prologue.
Lucifer would certainly have received my vote. He managed to be in Atlanta, New York and L.A in successive scenes, despite the fact that air transportation has been knocked out. Can you imagine all the bickering in the car on the way. "Lucifer are we there yet? I have to pee-pee" Any guy who can keep that under control can easily get all gang members to rally together, gosh darn it, and possibly even get them a dental plan, because the things that bring them together are so much more important than those petty divisions. There's mayhem, and mugging, and rape, and murder, and all the things that make gangbanging such an up-and-coming trendy lifestyle choice for the new millennium.

In fact Lucifer has such a hypnotic effect on the illiterate gangbangers, that he's taught them to speak without contractions, and to address him as "my lord", as if they were bit players in "The Black Shield of Falworth". They say stuff like "I shall not fail you again, my lord". What Lucifer lacks in true nobility, he more than makes up in top-notch grammar.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that the good guys had Lucifer and his equally evil but wimpier brother in a position where they could have killed them about five times? But each time, they punched him down, then ran off on some important mission. So, needless to say, the Lucifer brothers were back on their heels again in a matter of mere seconds.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen version

  • director and cast interviews

Oh, yeah, one more thing I forgot. Even though Lucifer is evil and cruelly stupid, he has also developed a powerful superfighter in a laboratory at home, just by doing scientific gene-splicing experiments in his spare time.

In order to imagine this movie, picture a WWF pay-per-view. Take out all the plot development and back story. Make the characters and fights less plausible. Remove all the humor. There you have it. 

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: not enough votes for a score, but it is a very, very, very bad movie. It will end up in the 2's or 3s, I suppose.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a E. It could be an F, I guess. The editing is certainly bad enough to qualify for an F, but the photography is generally crisp, and you can see what is going on, so I guess E is right.

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