Review: ‘Gang of Roses’

Female hiphoppers look just plain silly in the new revenge oater, "Gang of Roses." What should have been a comedy is made with such lock-jawed seriousness and literalism that auds laugh -- but at these gun-totin' gals, not with them. One-week theatrical window will close shut fast, followed by quick getaway to dusty vid shelves.

This review was updated on Oct. 14, 2003.

It’s been a long downhill slide from the days when pop stars held their own in Westerns — like Ricky Nelson in “Rio Bravo” — to female hiphoppers looking just plain silly in the new revenge oater, “Gang of Roses.” What should have been a comedy is made with such lock-jawed seriousness and literalism by writer-director Jean Claude La Marre that auds laugh — but at these gun-totin’ gals, not with them. One-week theatrical window will close shut fast, followed by quick getaway to dusty vid shelves.

When gold-hungry crooks gun down the sister of ex-outlaw Rachel (Monica Calhoun), she wants revenge so she straps on her swanky all-leather outfit. Pic then abruptly introduces three other seemingly unrelated Wild West women: Maria (LisaRaye), who’s an ace with a knife; Chastity (rapper Lil’ Kim), who kills her lovers once she tires of them; and Zang Li (Marie Matiko), who loves twirling her six-shooters.

Somehow, the trio knows to meet with Rachel — their former bank robbery leader — and hear her pitch on settling her personal score. The enticement is a buried stash of $500,000 in gold.

First, the gang frees Kim (Stacey Dash), a hothead with a pistol, from the gallows (with a bit of help from Mario Van Peebles, in an uncredited, single-shot cameo). Step two is looking fine in an array of bare-midriff outfits while galloping across what clearly appears to be the Paramount Ranch to the beat of a hip-hop number.

Step three is scoping out the competition (led by a ludicrous Bobby Brown as vision-impaired Left Eye Watkins), while Chastity flashes her come-hither looks at the local deputy, Babyface Malone (La Marre).

Hardly a Western genre cliche remains untouched, down to a wooden Indian and a single tumbleweed blowing down a deserted street. The final shootout can’t come soon enough. Full-time thesps in the cast, including Calhoun and LisaRaye, and their rapping co-stars are all equally dreadful, hopelessly tilted toward such modern behavior that it wouldn’t have been jarring to see someone pull a cell phone from their holster.

Few Westerns have looked or sounded phonier, and La Marre’s direction doesn’t even try to spin the genre into a completely hip-hop style, in the way that acid Westerns imposed ’60s drug culture over 19th century America.

Gang of Roses

Production

A DEJ Prods. release of a DEJ Prods. and Sleeping Giant Films presentation of a Warning Films production. Produced by Timothy Swan, Jean Claude La Marre. Executive producers, Andy Reimer, Doug Schwab, Larry Rattner. Co-producer, Brian Lewis. Directed, written by Jean Claude La Marre.

Crew

Camera (CFI color), Ben Kufrin; editor, Life Garland; music, Michael Cohen, Mark Sparks; production designer, Charlotte Newman; art director, Johanna Nemeth; costume designer, Kara Saun; sound (Dolby Digital), Dennis Salcedo; sound designer, Gary Gelfand; stunt coordinator, Pat McGroarty; associate producer, Lila Aviv; assistant director, Daniel Long; second unit director, Matt R. Brady; casting, Reno Logan. Reviewed at The Bridge Cinema De Lux, Los Angeles, Oct. 11, 2003. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Monica Calhoun, Stacey Dash, LisaRaye , Marie Matiko, Lil' Kim , Bobby Brown, Louis Mandylor, Glenn Plummer, Jean Claude La Marre, Macy Gray. (English, Mandarin dialogue)
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading