Divided City

A belated sequel to writer-helmer Bruce Brown's 1997 direct-to-vid "Streetwise," "Divided City" reprises some characters from that pic in an urban crime meller whose multicharacter "Godfather"-in-the-hood narrative sprawl isn't ballasted by the most accomplished writing or production contribs. Still, low-budget indie could do OK as a small-screen and rental item.

With:
With: Sheila Hayes, Kimberly Person, Tim Taylor, Raymond Daniels, Big G, Adrienne Renee Fairley, Mark Hyde, Jason Perkins, Walter Suarez Jr., Giovanna Williams.

A belated sequel to writer-helmer Bruce Brown’s 1997 direct-to-vid “Streetwise,” “Divided City” reprises some characters from that pic in an urban crime meller whose multicharacter “Godfather”-in-the-hood narrative sprawl isn’t ballasted by the most accomplished writing or production contribs. Still, low-budget indie could do OK as a small-screen and rental item.

Returning from “Streetwise” are the imposing Alex (Sheila Hayes), who’s become a crime queenpin in Washington D.C.’s black neighborhoods, and Mercedes (Kimberly Person, most vivid performer here), her trigger-tempered enforcer. Both women are androgynously clad and apparently lesbian (though not involved with each other). Arriving from Chicago is racist Marconi (Mark Hyde), emissary for a white mob syndicate that means to muscle in on Alex’s action. When impulsive Mercedes kills one of that camp’s dealers, negotiation turns to war. Subplots include the relapse of Alex’s estranged sister Bridgette (Adrienne Renee Fairley) into crack addiction when she discovers her college-aged son has started selling the stuff. There’s a lot of violence, but it’s flatly staged. Uneven perfs, dialogue, character development and tech aspects further compromise this stab at ambitious crime opera, though it still holds attention.

Divided City

Production: A Bruce Brown Filmworks production. Produced by Byron Woodfolk. Executive producer, Bruce Brown. Directed, written, edited by Bruce Brown.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Brown; music, Boris Elkis. Reviewed at San Francisco Black Film Festival, June 10, 2004. Running time: 113 MIN.

With: With: Sheila Hayes, Kimberly Person, Tim Taylor, Raymond Daniels, Big G, Adrienne Renee Fairley, Mark Hyde, Jason Perkins, Walter Suarez Jr., Giovanna Williams.

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