Review: ‘Kla$ H’

Part thriller, part concert film, "Kla$ h" doesn't really work on a satisfying level in either regard. The Jamaican-set tale is a pretty standard heist-romance elevated by a clutch of reggae band performances. It's the latter aspect that provides the pic with its limited appeal. Modest theatrical prospects are likely, with TV and vidcassette follow-up fueling pic's commercial livelihood.

Part thriller, part concert film, “Kla$ h” doesn’t really work on a satisfying level in either regard. The Jamaican-set tale is a pretty standard heist-romance elevated by a clutch of reggae band performances. It’s the latter aspect that provides the pic with its limited appeal. Modest theatrical prospects are likely, with TV and vidcassette follow-up fueling pic’s commercial livelihood.

Stoney (Giancarlo Esposito), a photojournalist, is on assignment in Jamaica to shoot a battle-of-the-bands concert for a U.S. music magazine. He’s seduced by island life and a temptress named Blossom (Jasmine Guy). She’s in league with Lee (Lucien Chen), a local crime czar organizing a daring robbery of the concert box office.

Naturally she wants Stoney to help her double-cross the boss. The counterplan is to snatch the cash and jet away to a remote Eden and live happily ever after. Of course, it turns out to be more complicated than the simple blueprint.

Further muddying the effort are musical segues and concert footage that stop the narrative dead. The extended “Kla$ h” event, which features some potent musical acts, has virtually no dramatic attachment to the rest of the film. It also seems overly indulgent of the bump-and-grind techniques of local dancers.

The fractured structure provides the performers with little substance for their roles. Esposito tries hard to provide his character with some idiosyncrasies, with limited effect. Slightly better are Chen and Carl Bradshaw, as a philosophical skipper, in supporting turns.

Writer/director Bill Parker is decidedly more intrigued with the film’s musical underpinnings than its dramatic side. His loving depiction of the Jamaican lifestyle, beat and scenery is more befitting a film for the Jamaican tourist industry than a commercial movie. The resulting din of “Kla$ h” is a film krash with limited noise from the kash register.

Kla$ H

(Musical thriller -- Color)

Production

A Kingston Prods. in association with Hawk's Nest Pictures presentation. Produced by Carolyn Pfeiffer, Karolyn Ali. Executive producers, L.G.S. Broderick , Y.P. Seaton. Co-executive producers, Peter McAlevey, Bruce Binkow. Director/

Crew

Camera, Bill Parker. Screenplay, Parker, Peter Allen; editor, David Leathers; music consultant, Olivia (Babsy) Grange; art direction, Giorgio Ferrari. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 25, 1995. Running time: 95 min.

With

Stoney ... Giancarlo Esposito Blossom ... Jasmine Guy Inspector Lovelace ... Cedella Marley Mr. Lee ... Lucien Chen Walker ... Carl Bradshaw Ragga ... Stafford Ashani Ultimate ... Paul Campbell
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