Red Passport (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

A counterfeiter named Fabio has been sprung from a 25 year jail sentence after only ten years. He wants to go straight and get reacquainted with his daughter. There's a catch. Isn't there always? A few mob guys know that Fabio can create a large quantity of counterfeit bills, and they won't let him live in peace until he delivers two million dollars worth to them. He needs two plates to do the job. He knows where one of them is, but has to track down the other in a very short time. This leads him along a path which includes former friends and enemies as well as his treacherous ex-girlfriend.

Red Passport was released to DVD in the summer of 2006, but was actually made three years earlier. It made the rounds to some three dozen film festivals internationally, but never managed to secure any kind of lucrative distribution deal. That's not surprising because Red Passport covers familiar ground and was made with an ultralow budget, so the film hasn't much commercial appeal. The plot and characterizations are typical, and the action scenes suffer from extreme budget shortfalls. In fact, even the limited attempts at physical action are generally confusing and mishandled.

Nonetheless, the film is not a write-off. Although Red Passport is not a great film nor a particularly original one, there are indications that the auteur may some day do much better. It was written and directed by Albert Xavier, who was born in the USA, raised in the Dominican Republic, then educated at the NYU film school. His film does have a little humor, a little sex, lots of local color, and two more significant elements which balance off the film's shortcomings enough to make it a worthwhile watch for film junkies.

First, the performances are not bad. Frank Molina is pretty solid in the lead, but I'd say Frank Medrano probably stole the show. Medrano has been in many major movies like Shawshank and The Usual Suspects, always delivering solid characterizations in small roles. Odd-looking older guys like him don't usually get a chance to play big roles, so he jumped on this chance to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. It was a good opportunity for him that turned out to be good for the film as well because he brings professionalism, credibility and humanity to the part of Fabio's crippled ex-partner who's trying to live a decent life and to atone for some of the mistakes he made in the past.

Second, the film represents a rare look at the Latin American community in the semi-suburban areas of the Outer Boroughs of New York. It includes some decent, normal people as well as criminal types.  Although you may have seen other films with similar themes and plots, you might find Red Passport to have a little different flavor.




  • No features
  • widescreen transfer, anamorphically enhanced (16x9)



Maite Bonilla shows her breasts twice: in a sex scene and in a bathtub scene.

The Critics Vote ...

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our 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. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • 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 C-. It's routine, predictable, and obviously suffering from budgetary problems, but it also has a fairly good plot and some solid characterizations, and one must offer a tip o' the hat to the writer/director for creating a watchable film on a home movie budget.

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