Public Enemies

Images from Michael Mann's (L.A. Takedown, Heat, Ali, Miami Vice) Public Enemies.

Johnny Depp - Public Enemies

Public Enemies - Images

Christian Bale - Public Enemies

Public Enemies - Images

Johnny Depp - Public Enemies

Marion Cotillard - Public Enemies

Public Enemies - Images

Public Enemies - Images

Public Enemies - Images

The Feds led by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) during a booming crime wave in the 1930s. Marion Cotillard stars as John Dillinge's girl Billie Frechette.

Johnnie To's Vengeance - Poster

New poster for Johnnie To's Vengeance which is about to play in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Simon Yam, Anthony Wong and Suet Lam star alongside Johnny Hallyday.

Johnnie To's Vengeance - Trailer 1

Johnnie To's Vengeance - Trailer 2

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New trailer for Vengeance directed by Johnnie To the "King Midas" of crime cinema. To regulars Simon Yam, Anthony Wong and Suet Lam star alongside Johnny Hallyday. Wai Ka Fai who co-wrote To's excellent Mad Detective (Sun taam) penned the script, which sees an incomplete hit inspire bloody revenge.

Trailer via WildGrounds

Via: TwitchFilm

Five: Stand Out Pieces Of Violent Urban Cinema

"Urban" cinema tends to mean black cinema or cinema reflecting a "Ghetto" experience often from a youthful perspective. So I will that as a rough guide and then narrowing it down to crime related and violent features I'm going to look at some of the best from this "Genre", if it can really be called a genre.

La_Haine_Special_Edition1. La Haine (1995) Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz

La Haine is arguably the best "Urban" film ever made, certainly the most politically charged and the one with the most impacting ending. French Jewish director Mathieu Kassovitz may have gone on to make the crappy Gothica, but in 1995 he made the best film of the year. So the top film on my list is not American as you would expect, but French. In fact as far as I am aware, a decade after its release the film which took won best director and was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes is still not available in the US. This is the film that made the French police guarding Cannes turn their backs to the cast and crew as they passed. The film follows 3 friends Vinz, Hubert, Saïd as the pass the day in the aftermath of riots the night before. Kassovitz shot the film in colour, but then printed it to B&W because he wanted the film to be taken as more than just another "Ghetto" or "Hip Hop" film. While the French ghetto is very apparent in the film and scenes of break dancing and an iconic DJ scene mean the film drips hip hop culture in places his film is indeed much more. All the performances are dead on, with the three leads Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde and Saïd Taghmaoui all first class. One of the best and maybe the most powerful films of the 1990's. Fans of Urban film, World Cinema, modern B&W cinema and just great movie making in general have no excuse for not owning or at the very least having seen La Haine.

Fresh2. Fresh (1994) Directed by Boaz Yakin

Yet another Jewish director takes on bringing a Ghetto set story to the screen. And why not, after all the word was spawned from a Jewish experience. Fresh is set in a mixed Hispanic and Black area of New York and follows the story of a young boy known as Fresh. Fresh is a classic case of a mind gone to waste, in a different setting he would be following a life that would lead to higher education and a successful career. Fresh how ever is not in a different pace he lives in the inner city hood and is a runner for drug gangs. Running heroin for slimy Hispanic drug lord Esteban and Crack for paranoid black gangster Corky, Fresh is in deep and having to live a life way beyond anything someone his young years should experience. Everyone keeps telling Fresh he's going to be the man one day, but it’s not what he wants. Fresh is torn between the streets and a home crowded home life at his aunt's. Fresh's father portrayed by a still relatively unknown Sam Jackson is a Chess master and a drunk who fresh makes regular visits in the park to play against. The films plot see' the combining chess concepts into a tale reminiscent of Yojimbo. The expected Hip Hop score is absent, in its place is a score by Stuart Copeland similar to that he provided for Rumble fish. Cinematographer Adam Holender was called in and Yakin persuaded him to use the old school feel he used on the Oscar winning midnight Cowboy some 25 years earlier. Great performances, especially from young Sean Nelson as Fresh, but all the cast are strong. Fresh's life may change but the cost will be high. Fresh won Boaz Yakin the Filmmakers Trophy and was nominated for Grand Jury Prize as well as earning Sean Nelson Special Jury Recognition for technical acting.

City_of_god3. City of God (2002) Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund

Carrying the tagline Fight and you'll never survive..... Run and you'll never escape Brazilian film City of God blew away just about everyone who saw it in 2002. Stylish and backed by a funky soundtrack City of God was an exceedingly hip piece of cinema. Behind the cool, is really a very tragic look at modern Brazil and the utter desperation that faces those living out there lives in the roughest parts of Rio de Janeiro's favela's. In city of God life is not just cheap; it's to be thrown away like rubbish. The directors succeed in bringing a multi character movie to the screen where many would fail. Although it revolves around, but does not centre on, Rocket a young man with a love for photography growing up in one of the most violent places on earth. How ever the film weaves in friends, acquaintances and other locals who do not always directly affect Rocket himself. In many ways he is more observer than participant in much of the film. Rocket is around, but not involved in the madness that surrounds him. City of god is also notable for giving us one of modern films most chilling characters in Li'l Ze whose childhood murder spree is made even more shocking by the fact that there are people like him out there. Like Fresh, City of God does not shy away from child death, but is more shocking in that here the killers are often not long out of dypers themselves. Everyone should have seen this by now, but if not it's another must.

Menace_II_Society4. Menace II Society (1993) Directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes

OK so the common theme of a young man who wants to get out is in place, but if you lived somewhere that violent would you not want out. Two years after John Singleton's critically praised seminal film Boyz n the Hood the Hughes brother’s unleashed Menace II Society. Menace was highly quotable, cool and violent. For many people who had grown to be first fans of Hip Hop and then of the gangster rap subgenre menace was the celluloid version of a Compton’s most wanted or N.W.A album. Mc Eiht of CMW even has a strong supporting role as OG A- WAX. The great thing about this film is it works both on the level of great pop culture fun and as a series look at life in the gang infested area's of LA. The way the neighborhood in which your are born in seriously lessons the chances you have in life. Even those characters who want out find themselves just as caught up as those who accept the desperate nihilism of life in the area. The never ending tit for tat killing, the senselessness of fighting wars from which there is nothing to gain. Larenz Tate as Kevin 'O-Dog' who really just does not give a f**k is awesome ... anybody want a cheeseburger?

Juice5. Juice (1992) Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson

Black genre director Ernest R. Dickerson's impressive New York based feature is often criminally overlooked when it comes to discussing Urban cinema. Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur both give blistering performances as the lives of four close friends take a downward turn. As with La Haine one of the pivotal moments is the gaining of a gun by one of the leads, guns equal power and with power you can gain "The Juice". Tupac may not have been your favorite music performer or personality, but here his acting skills as the dark brooding Bishop are beyond reproach. Bishop is a genuinely scary character, the kind of psycho friend you know is bad news but you just can't escape. Backed by an appropriate Hip Hop (real hip hop not MTV rap) score including the legendary emcee Rakim's "know the ledge" Juice is more firmly embedded in hip hop culture than the other films on the list. That’s not to say it's a rap movie just that it appropriately reflects the New York scene in the early nineties. Omar Epps drips charisma as upcoming DJ Q and the supporting cast is strong. The look on his face as he walks away from the rooftop at the end of the film and a member of the crowd tells him he has the Juice say's it all.

Not included: I've left off Blaxploitation films from the films I considered as they are a different thing entirely. I also discounted films that are essentially organised crime flicks like New Jack City and king of New York and Police flicks like Colors. Prison films are also ignored such as Bound by Honor. Urban, black and ethnic cinema covers a lot more than just "Growing up in the hood", but for the purposes of this five violent hood stories was an appropriate theme and just because that is the focus it does not make the films any less powerful.

Also see: Boyz in the hood, Spike Lee's work in particular Do the right thing, Colours, Jason's Lyric, Animal, Dead Presidents, Bound by Honor (Blood in, Blood out), American Me.

Trivia: Samuel L. Jackson appears in all 3 of the American movies in my 5.

Buy the films:

La Haine: (UK Ultimate edition) As the film has no North American release the best bet for those of you out there with region free players order a UK version via

Fresh: No UK (region 2) DVD for this one so

City of God: |

Menace II Society: |

Juice: Again no UK (region 2) option so

... more Late - Fives

Another Lonely Hitman

Tachibana is a Yakuza henchman who has just served a ten year prison sentence for the very public execution of a rival gang’s boss. Back on the street he finds things have changed, the Yakuza members no longer adhere to the old codes of honour and he is now an atavism. He forms a relationship with the prostitute he is given as a “welcome back present” and a friendship with a young gang member who see’s him as a hero.

Director Rockuro Mochizuki 1995 movie is a Drama with Yakuza characters far more than it is a violent Yakuza crime movie. Tachibana played by Ryo Ishibashi is not really the hitman that the title conjures up, merely a disposable Yakuza pawn, who was convinced to get loaded up on heroin and kill a rival gangs’ leader. So high on smack Tachibana does this but in the process shoots a young waitress in the leg and then asks that the police are called thus landing himself with ten years inside.

Described by some reviewers as Ultra violent and ultra stylish, Mochizuki’s film is neither of these in my opinion. The films opening which follows Tachibana’s hit on the crime boss in a busy restaurant is indeed nicely done and realistically violent, but after that initial scene the film changes pace and settles down into being a slow paced character study. Not that the lack of stylish visuals and violence mean this is not an interesting movie, just I feel it has been some what over hyped and mislabelled. This is really a film about not belonging, about damaged relationships and to some degree redemption.

In many ways there is nothing new in terms of plot to be found in Another lonely Hitman, if you have seen a few films about ex-gangsters back on the street trying to fit in again, you will have a pretty good idea of the route the storyline will take. Where Another lonely hitman shines is in the interplay between the various characters, especially between Tachibana and Yuki, for whom he provides something more than just money barterd through sex and pimp slaps.

The interesting thing about Mozcizuki’s choice of character for his lead is that Tachibana is not cool and from the glimpse of him as a drug addled hitman a decade earlier never was. He’s not Carlito back on the street with great poolroom tricks and a swish leather jacket. This guy is damaged goods right down to the fact those ten years inside have left him psychosomatically impotent. Sure he can kick some ass, but he can’t fuck and I for one know which attribute I would prefer.

Back on the streets Tachibana finds himself paired up with a younger gang member, who see’s him as a hero, a representation of the old now forgotten days after all he is the man that wiped out a prominent rival in broad daylight. Problem is that gang came out on top anyway and now Tachiban’s old crew fall directly underneath it in the yakuza structure, meaning his actions really achieved nothing in the greater scheme of things. As Tachibana try’s to find a place for himself he guides the younger Yakuza and forces Yuki the prostitute to kick her heroin addiction as well as beating down her pimp, but can these actions bring some form of redemption to his life and can he make himself whole again? In director Mochizuki’s vision a man can run from everything except his past, something he would cover again in his 1997 film Oniba: The fire within.

Bleakly shot on grainy film stock and featuring fitting Jazz track which has brought the film some comparisons with the film noir style of film making. Another Lonely Hitman is an interesting film if a little slow and slightly generic in its plot. If you enjoyed Miikes Rainy dog and the general downbeat grim of the Black society trilogy then you will probably find a lot to like here. If you’re looking for stylised violence and hip characters this film may not be for you.

Fans of quality Japanese cinema and the Yakuza genres will want to seek this out and I suggest they do, but be prepared for a downbeat look at life at the bottom of the Yakuza food chain.

A bleak uncompromising look at a broken man as he struggles to come to terms with a world he no longer belongs to. 

Colour Of The Truth

A twisty tale of truth, honor and justice in which legendary Hong Kong actor, Anthony Wong (Infernal Affairs, Beast Cops, The Untold Story, Hard-Boiled) plays a cop who was forced to make a decision that will haunt him forever. In a bust gone bad he was forced to shoot not only the intended Triad boss target, but also a close friend and fellow cop. Ten years later his career is going well, but now the son of his dead friend is on his team and he wants the truth about his father’s death and maybe even revenge.

Twisty tales of HK police infiltrating and taking on the Triad organizations are enjoying a popular time at the moment with films such as Cop on a Mission and the very successful Infernal Affairs series proving hits at home and with genre fans around the world. Colour of the Truth ,directed by Marco Mak (Cop on a Mission) and Jing Wong (Naked Weapon) is a twisty tale of the shades of black and white (grey area) that Hong Kong police have to work in when dealing with these powerful organisations.

After the death of his dad whose nickname was '7-Up,' his son, who has taken on the moniker 'Cola,' wants nothing more than to follow his father into the Hong Kong Police force. As he grows up, Cola finds himself visited once or twice a year by a mysterious man who gives him money and helps him out of tight spots, including a football pitch beat down (an obvious homage to hit movie Young and Dangerous). After a drug bust he is working on becomes intertwined with a raid organized by the serious crime squad led by Huang (the man who is responsible for 7-UP's death,) Cola finds himself transferred to the serious crime squad and working under the man who shot his father. Cola finds himself torn between feelings of hatred and lust for revenge and begrudging admiration for the humble and very good at his job Huang. Huang, Cola finds, does not live the lavish lifestyle of a high level corrupt cop but instead in humble surroundings caring tenderly for his British father who has had a stroke and is unable to speak (Anthony Wong dropping in an out of a cockney-style accent while speaking English to his father is a great touch.)

As the two cops investigate a seemingly straightforward disagreement in gangland between supposedly retired crime figure Kwan and deadly Vietnamese gun runner Cyclops, things don’t seem to be adding up; how are these guys able to be one step ahead of them all the time and where does the man from the football pitch fit into it all? And just what did happen on the rooftop the night 7-UP and the crime lord were shot dead by Haung, are things really as black and white (Hak bak sam lam the original title literally translates as Black and White Forrest) as Cola grew up believing they were?

Now in his mid 40's, mixed race Hong Kong star Anthony Wong seems to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. While others from his generation have faded, moved away from genre film or are trying there luck abroad, he has been working away at a furious rate appearing in a staggering 40 plus films from the start of the new millennium. These days his name has become one of the main draws for foreign fans of Hong Kong cinema and with Colour of the Truth he does not disappoint. The film also stars Ho-Yin Wong (PTU, Koma) and the instantly recognisable from his performance as "Chicken" in the Young and Dangerous movies, Jordan Chan (Bio Zombie, Initial D.) The three stars and all the supporting cast give great performances with Yin Tse (Shaolin Soccer), looking and acting suitably sleazy as crime lord in retirement, Kwan.

If you liked Infernal Affairs and its sequels, Cop on a Mission and similar Hong Kong based cops and triads movies, and crave more, The Colour of Truth is going to be just what you’re looking for, this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie from start to finish. The film balances its twisty plot well with strong action sequences which, while very hyper at time, are a little more real and subdued than the late 80’s Bullet Ballet style that John Woo made so brilliantly before he left for America and mediocrity. They are still flamboyant enough, however, to get your heart beating and bring a smile to the face of any fan of gunplay sequences.

With some great action set pieces, a suitably twisty plot to keep you guessing and some top notch performances, The colour of the Truth is a must-see for fans of cops and triads cinema, Gangster movies, crime thrillers and just Hong Kong film in general.

Cops, robbers, honour, betrayal and revenge Hong Kong style … 8/10

Shinjuku Triad Society

Tatsuhito (Kippei Shiina) a “dirty cop” is on the trail of gay Triad warlord Wang (Tomorowo Taguchi), who leaves a trail of sickening crime in his wake. In persuit of this particularly slippery gangster Tatsuhito comes to test his own limits and is forced to confront some painful familial and social issues.

In this first edition of Takashi Miike’s Black Society Trilogy (Shinjuku Triad Society,Rainy Dog, Ley Lines), Shinjuku Triad Society makes for some very bleak and complex viewing. Delving into issues way below the surface of its subtitle Chinese Mafia Wars, this story of shadowy underworld dealings is a very raw and unforgiving look at the seedier side of Japan’s criminal underbelly. Filmed in a variation of styles including hand-held, Miike’s camera gives a relentlessly gruelling insight into a gritty and downbeat world where good and evil don’t exist, where there is only bad and worse.

Shinjuku opens with a typically kinetic sequence with some fast-paced crime and some dodgy sexual exploits interspersed with shots of Japan’s hectic club life as the DJ provides the tempo in a nod to Miike’s self-professed style of direction. The frantic pace slows however as we become engaged in our protagonist Tatsuhito and his persistent pursuit of warlord Wang. It soon becomes obvious that our hero Tatsuhito is more of an anti-hero in a scene of such sudden and unprovoked violence that for a moment you are stalled in total disbelief. Policemen of questionable morals are of course not unusual subject matter in film but where we are more used to a character composed of entirely immoral or amoral leanings, like Bad Lieutenant for example, Tatsuhito is less usual in the way we can still relate to him and empathise with his cause. This is of course aided by the absolutely reprehensible Wang, whose vile criminal deals and strange private life convey a character next to whom most people would compare favourably.

What unfolds from this cat and mouse tale of hunter and hunted is far more than a gritty police drama. Away from all the usual glamorising or stylising of the genre, Miike reveals with honesty an unsettlingly grim way of life which is both fascinating and repellent. Surrounding the abhorrent and multifaceted exploitation are some very sensitive and deep seated issues concerning race, identity and sexuality in a society so honour bound as to become a little neurotic about its repressions. This is absorbing from a Western-eye view and a brave move on Miike’s part to depict with unflinchingly brutal honesty such seldom portrayed concerns. Shinjuku is therefore pretty violent and sexually graphic in keeping with its realism and almost utterly bereft of any humour or similar cinematic tool to break up the unrelenting grim. Miike is clearly making no apology for this no-holds-barred representation of the reality of contemporary Japanese life and underworld associations. The screen remains as realistically shadowy as the unpleasant dealings and is a drab and bleak as the mood.

Shinjuku is a refreshingly raw if difficult piece of viewing. Ceaselessly demanding on the viewer, it rewards you with the realism gleaned from a rare view of a world stripped bare and sodomised like one of Miike’s unfortunate characters. This isn’t what you would necessarily describe as “entertainment” in a popcorn-munching beer with your mates on a Saturday night sort of a way, but it is thoroughly enthralling, thought provoking and directed with such bare-bones honesty that it is a must-see for anybody wishing to look past Hollywood and to a darker side of crime. You may want to have this one with a stiff drink though.

An excellent if harsh and difficult piece of cinema. Fascinating and distressing, it’s every bit as enthralling as it is reprehensible. An honest, brave and accomplished film from Miike once more proving he's no one-trick pony

Rollin' With The Nines

Too Fine, Finny and Rage are on the verge of being the next big thing in London’s Underground Urban music scene with their group Time Served. On the verge of big things the trio hit a plush London club to flash some bling, drink some Champaign and do all those ghetto fabulous things expected of rising music stars bred on the street. After Too fines sister ends up to drunk he decides to leave early and drive her home. On the way home his past comes back on him big time in the form of a drug lord named Temper. Too Fine had left the hustle behind him but he left un cleared debts on the street and if you watch enough of these films you know the street never forgets, forgives or gives a fuck about you. Too Fine owes Temper and stopped at the lights he collects in kind with a bullet to Too Fine's head.

With a member gone Time Served is finished as a musical force. To make matters worse Temper is still after his money and brutally rapes and threatens Too fines sister Hope. How ever Temper has pushed his luck too far, bad as he is this rude gal is badder and a couple of shotgun blasts soon see Temper gone. Now with everything in turmoil Finny and Rage join close friend Pushy in taking down Tempers main boys before they can hit back in a blatant clubland execution. Now with their dreams in ruins the four of them turn to the streets to make a living. Hope meets with the Old school Essex gangster who supplied Temper with his product and with their considerable connection they are soon making big money. The problem is the things you do often come back to haunt you and walking into a plush London club and spraying it with automatic bullets has put an obsessive cop on their trail.

When I first heard about Rollin' with the nines I have to admit the idea of a UK made ghetto tale packed with grime music had me thinking this is going to be embarrassingly shit. I caught the trailer a while back and it looked better than I thought so I figured when it hit DVD I would give it a chance. So credit where credit is due Rollin' with the nines while not exactly award winning film making is way better than I thought it would be. For one thing this is a British movie that actually attempts to put some action on the screen. The gun battle in the Yardies house which was what got me interested after the trailer is excellent. There’s also a pretty cool Car chase which mimics the kind of thing you see on reality TV with names like "Britain’s Craziest Car chases". The acting is mixed with some of the more experienced actors abilities causing the faults of the less experienced to be highlighted, but lets face it your not expecting this to be Hamlet. The plot falls into the realms of the kind of thing you describe as serviceable, nothing special but it moves the film along a good pace. One thing that struck me was the film is surprisingly violent, you get so used to how watered down films have become with their quest to gain the converted PG-13 rating. There even a touch of nasty gore as the camera skips over bodies in a bath tub, no doubt victims of the punishment ritual the Yardies have become notorious for.

Rollin' with the nines is exploitative playing up the black on black crime which exists in the UK. Drugs and crime of course are far from limited to just black people every ethnic group Turks, Chinese, Pakistani's, Indians, Albanians, Italians, Greeks and the majority white population all have members going after a slice of the money from crime pie. How ever while most groups try and play down their heavy involvement in crime, the urban music scene has long taken the role of being the voice of the street and as such has played a large part in the exploitation of these issues within those communities. While Pakistanis and Turks shut the fuck up and let middle England believe the brand new Mercedes outside the corner shop or Kebab house is the profit of "Hard Work" Britain’s black community no doubt taking a leaf out of their American cousins book talk about a crime on the streets and the fruits and ills it brings. A film like Rollin' with the nines is really just an extension of such music a violent fantasy on film all be it full of incidents that could and sometimes do happen in a Huge City like London. Exploitative sure, but much in the way that Mafia, triad, Yakuza and such films are, most people realize these for the stories they are and that they reflect the behavior of only small groups within a larger community.

Is Rollin' with the nines a movie I would give pride of place in my DVD collection, not at all. It's a far cry from the films I would consider stand out Urban cinema or crime cinema in general. That said though it’s something which in my opinion makes a great rental movie. It’s also packed with a lot more action and violence than you expect from a British movie. Sure it's not a British gangster classic and it’s certainly not got a plot you need to think about like many twisty crime tales, but it does deliver on the fun. The much hyped Urban soundtrack is great for the movie, not my kind of music normally, but it works really well here and does add to the ambiance. I could see this film going over fairly well with the USA's larger urban audience, as it certainly better than the films many Rap moguls like to churn out for that demographic.

Violent action crime cinema backed by a bouncy UK Urban soundtrack that's worth a peep. 6/10

Rollin' with the nines - trailer


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