Fifth Ward

Good intentions are not quite enough for "Fifth Ward," indie filmmaker Greg Carter's micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston's most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues.

With:
James ..... Kory Washington Mina ..... Donna Wilkerson Toney ..... Thomas Miles Earl ..... Thomas Webb Bam ..... Creepa Haan ..... Junie Hoang Rip ..... Lee Carter Lil T ..... JaCorrey Lovelady Gibson ..... Louis Gusemano Lindsey ..... Steve Green

Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues.

Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much too similar to earlier dramas about life and death in the hood. Directing from his own episodic screenplay, Carter constructs his narrative around James (Kory Washington), a good kid in a bad situation. After the death of his older brother in a drug-related home invasion, James is eager to find a better life for himself beyond the Fifth Ward. But even as he works as a convenience-store stock clerk to earn money for college, he’s often tempted to make a killing — literally as well as figuratively — through various illegal activities.

At one point, James gets a chance to kill the men who murdered his brother, thanks to the intercession of Bam (Creepa), a quick-tempered gangster who sells guns in the hood. But James is neither willing nor able to pull the trigger. He comes close to actual mayhem only while defending his mother (Donna Wilkerson) and younger brother (JaCorrey Lovelady) from his mother’s violent live-in boyfriend (Thomas Miles).

Carter clearly wants to offer a balanced picture of African-American life under hardscrabble conditions. To that end, he introduces James’ uncle, Earl (Thomas Webb), a dedicated EMS driver who insists that “there’s just as much beauty here as there is ugliness.” And to provide romantic interest, Carter has James fall in love with Haan (attention-grabber Junie Hoang), the daughter of the Vietnamese store owners who employ him.

More often than not, however, “Fifth Ward” merely offers the usual parade of doomed young hotheads and viciously racist cops. Rip (Lee Carter), James’ best friend, cues the melodramatic climax when he attempts a robbery to repay a debt to Bam. Pic ends on an upbeat note, but just barely.

Webb, Miles and Hoang are standouts in a cast that ranges from adequate to awkward. Tech values reflect the severe budgetary restraints.

Fifth Ward

(DRAMA)

Production: A Nexus Films production is association with Jumpstart Prods. Produced, directed, written, edited by Greg Carter. Executive producers, Dr. Betty Carter, Dr. Annie Carter-Pena, Courtney Como. Co-producers, Cathy Civitello, John E. Sherman Jr.

Crew: Camera (color), John Darbonne; music, Randy (Raw Cat) Washington; production designer, Kelley Darbonne; art director, Sally Miller; sound, Rob Pendland Jr.; associate producers, Jalene Mack, Darvita Mack, Julius Lovelady, Dave Walker, Sam Pink, Booker T. Morris, Mary Ellen Brown. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, July 30, 1998. (In South by Southwest Film Festival, Austin, Texas.) Running time: 110 MIN.

With: James ..... Kory Washington Mina ..... Donna Wilkerson Toney ..... Thomas Miles Earl ..... Thomas Webb Bam ..... Creepa Haan ..... Junie Hoang Rip ..... Lee Carter Lil T ..... JaCorrey Lovelady Gibson ..... Louis Gusemano Lindsey ..... Steve Green

More Film

  • 'The Equalizer 2' Review

    Film Review: Denzel Washington in 'The Equalizer 2'

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

  • Stan Dragoti 'The Last Boyscout' PremiereDecember

    Stan Dragoti, Director of 'Mr. Mom,' 'Love at First Bite,' Dies at 85

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

  • Jagged Edge

    Film News Roundup: Halle Berry's 'Jagged Edge' Remake Finds Writer

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

  • Kate Winslet Diane Keaton Mia Wasikowska

    Kate Winslet, Diane Keaton, Mia Wasikowska to Star in 'Silent Heart' Remake

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

  • (L to R) Young Tanya (JESSICA

    'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' Stage Musical in the Works

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

  • Sundance Film Festival Placeholder

    Sundance Festival's Economic Impact Jumps Up 26% From 2017, Study Says

    Good intentions are not quite enough for “Fifth Ward,” indie filmmaker Greg Carter’s micro-budget drama about day-to-day struggles for survival in Houston’s most notorious inner-city neighborhood. By turns bluntly persuasive and crudely amateurish, pic is best suited for fest and video venues. Despite the relative novelty of its setting, “Fifth Ward” comes across as much […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content