Colors (1988)

R | 120 mins | Drama | 1988

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HISTORY

The following written statement precedes opening credits: “The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department each has a gang crime division. The Police Department’s division is called C. R. A. S. H. (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) and the Sheriff’s division is called O. S. S. (Operation Safe Streets). The combined anti-gang force numbers 250 men and women. In the greater Los Angeles area there are over 600 street gangs with almost 70,000 gang members. Last year there were 387 gang-related killings.”
       According to a 30 Mar 1988 HR article, producer Robert H. Solo began developing the idea for Colors in 1984. At the time, he had just finished the film Bad Boys (1983, see entry), shot in Chicago, IL, and starring Sean Penn. Solo had become acquainted with Chicago police officers after filming scenes for Bad Boys at a juvenile prison outside the city. He later received a list of street gangs from the Chicago Police Department and paid for Bad Boys writer Richard DiLello to visit Chicago and investigate the city’s gang problem. Solo and DiLello then developed an idea for a screenplay, sold it to Orion Pictures, and wrote two drafts. Sean Penn agreed to star in the film and suggested Dennis Hopper direct. According to an interview from American Film magazine re-printed on 17 Apr 1988 in the Press-Telegram , Hopper had not found directing work in the U.S. since his 1971 flop, The Last Movie (see entry), which Universal Pictures considered “an attack on Hollywood.”
       In the American Film interview, Hopper stated that ... More Less

The following written statement precedes opening credits: “The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department each has a gang crime division. The Police Department’s division is called C. R. A. S. H. (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) and the Sheriff’s division is called O. S. S. (Operation Safe Streets). The combined anti-gang force numbers 250 men and women. In the greater Los Angeles area there are over 600 street gangs with almost 70,000 gang members. Last year there were 387 gang-related killings.”
       According to a 30 Mar 1988 HR article, producer Robert H. Solo began developing the idea for Colors in 1984. At the time, he had just finished the film Bad Boys (1983, see entry), shot in Chicago, IL, and starring Sean Penn. Solo had become acquainted with Chicago police officers after filming scenes for Bad Boys at a juvenile prison outside the city. He later received a list of street gangs from the Chicago Police Department and paid for Bad Boys writer Richard DiLello to visit Chicago and investigate the city’s gang problem. Solo and DiLello then developed an idea for a screenplay, sold it to Orion Pictures, and wrote two drafts. Sean Penn agreed to star in the film and suggested Dennis Hopper direct. According to an interview from American Film magazine re-printed on 17 Apr 1988 in the Press-Telegram , Hopper had not found directing work in the U.S. since his 1971 flop, The Last Movie (see entry), which Universal Pictures considered “an attack on Hollywood.”
       In the American Film interview, Hopper stated that when he first read the script for Colors , the two lead characters were a white police officer and a black police officer, and the story was set in Chicago and involved gangs who were selling a “narcotic used in cough syrup.” Hopper suggested the following alterations to the script in order to “make it real”: change the police officers to two white characters – one older, one younger; move the setting to Los Angeles, CA; and change the illegal narcotic to cocaine. As stated in the 30 Mar 1988 HR , Solo hired writer Michael Schiffer to draft a new version of the screenplay with Hopper’s notes in mind. Schiffer researched the story in Los Angeles by meeting with “social workers, gang workers, the Sheriff’s Gang Squad, the [Los Angeles Police Department] Gang Squad…Crash Squad, [and] probation officers,” and Penn and Hopper later followed to conduct their own research. After a second revision to Schiffer’s script, Hopper was satisfied with the changes and agreed to direct.
       As stated in American Film , the budget was just over $9 million. A 3 Mar 1987 HR production chart listing announced that principal production began 23 Feb 1987. According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the film was shot “entirely on the streets” in areas around Los Angeles, CA, including South Central Los Angeles, Watts, Firestone, Carson, Venice, the waterfront at San Pedro, and Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. Hopper described the locations as very dangerous, saying even police officers refused to visit certain places where the film was shooting unless there were reports of a serious crime, such as murder. On set, production vehicles were parked in a circle, and crew members placed tape around the area to mark territory, while security guards stood watch around the perimeter, according to production notes.
       A youth counselor named Gerard Ivory helped recruit gang members to act in the film, either playing themselves, performing in bit roles, or serving as background actors. Location manager Kojo Lewis described the dress code on set, stating that the production team learned to avoid wearing certain colors depending on the area in which the film was shooting. To remind the filmmakers whose territory they were infringing upon, some gang members would drive past the set late at night, honking car horns and brandishing guns, but no direct violence came to anyone involved in the film shoot. Hopper noted that ten killings occurred nearby throughout the course of production, but they were simply part of ongoing gang violence.
       A 5 Jun 1987 LAT news item announced that background actor Jeffrey Klein sued Sean Penn for striking him on the set. Penn allegedly became upset after Klein took his photograph, argued with Klein, and hit him. Orion Pictures and “other firms involved with producing the film” were also accused of negligence for exposing cast and crew members to Penn’s infamous temper. Klein’s attorney, Mark Licker, stated, “Its sort of like having a dangerous dog where you work, and the dog’s been known to bite before.” A 7 Jul 1987 LAT brief reported that Penn was sentenced to sixty days in jail for striking Klein, but would not have to report to jail until Aug 1987 after he fulfilled prior work commitments. At the time that he hit Klein, Penn had been on probation “for beating a man he thought was trying to kiss his wife, rock star Madonna” in a nightclub. The 5 Jun 1987 LAT also reported that Penn had been arrested on 25 May 1987 for suspected drunk driving. Defending Penn, Hopper described the actor as a “very sweet, dedicated guy,” albeit with a “short fuse.”
       Orion Pictures faced a marketing challenge with Colors which executives compared to the Dec 1986 release of Platoon (1986, see entry), according to a 13 Apr 1988 DV news item. Charles O. Glenn, executive vice president of marketing at Orion, commented on the film’s “’two-pronged publicity and advertising’ campaign” that would appeal to both “streetwise” young viewers and more sophisticated moviegoers. An advertisement placed in the 3 Apr 1988 issue of NYT and certain other publications presented the film as a continuation of Hopper’s auteurist body of work, harkening back to Easy Rider (1969, see entry) and naming Colors as “’the first realistic motion picture about the war against street gangs.’” A television advertisement touted Hopper’s appearances as an actor in well-received films such as Blue Velvet and Hoosiers (1986, see entries) as an incentive to see Colors , even though Hopper did not perform in the film. Ice-T, a popular recording artist featured on the film’s soundtrack, performed a promotional rap for the film that aired as a radio advertisement.
       Controversy arose surrounding the release of the film, and many anticipated violence might erupt in or around screenings, especially because of a recent surge in reported gang activity in Southern California. A 19 Apr 1988 LAT article stated that the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) objected to the film’s release in Southern California, along with Los Angeles’ Sheriff Department, and Lynwood and Compton, CA-based anti-gang organizations. The Guardian Angels, an anti-crime group, protested outside Hopper’s residence in Venice, CA, as well as Penn’s Malibu, CA, home, wielding signs that suggested proceeds from the film should go to organizations dedicated to eradicating gangs, as stated in an 11 Apr 1988 LAT article. One day prior to the release, a spokesperson for Pacific Theatres defended Colors in a 14 Apr 1988 LAT article, saying it was “much more than an exploitation film” and affirmed that proper security measures would be taken at screenings as a precaution. According to an 18 Apr 1988 DV news brief, fifteen theaters canceled plans to screen the film before its release. After the first weekend, three more Southern California theaters dropped the film due to threat of violence, and the police chief of Colma in Northern California banned it after one day of release due to “unruly crowds.”
       Despite early concerns, the film’s opening weekend saw few gang-related incidents. According to a 19 Apr 1988 LAT article, thirteen arrests occurred over the weekend, primarily for “misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and alcohol violations.” One shooting took place Sunday, 17 Apr 1988, outside a Detroit, MI, theater where the film was being shown, although a theater employee claimed the incident was unrelated and the involved parties had watched a different film. An incident of vandalism was reported by a 13 May 1988 DV brief, stating that a gang name had been spray painted onto a theater screen following a showing of the film. The screen, 32-feet in width, would have to be replaced at a cost of over $2,000.
       Fulfilling the prophesies of many who protested the film, on 26 Apr 1988, a LAHExam article stated that Charles Vaney Queen (misspelled as Charles Vain Queen), a member of the Crips, one of two street gangs prominently portrayed in Colors , shot and killed David Dawson, a rival gang member of the Bloods, outside a Stockton, CA, theater after viewing the film on 24 Apr 1988. On 27 Dec 1989, a HR brief stated that Vaney was sentenced to “27 years to life” for first-degree murder. Colors was shown by the prosecution in Vaney’s trial, and the convicted killer later attempted to appeal the court’s decision, claiming that the film was “hideously violent” and swayed the jury, as stated in a 5 Aug 1991 DV news item; however, a California state court unanimously ruled that the screening had been “relevant to the case.” The DV item reported Vaney’s sentence as “25 years to life with the possibility of parole,” contradicting the report of HR .
       Critical reception to Colors was mixed. Several reviewers criticized the narrative as being too one-dimensional, but many celebrated the direction, photography, and music and stated that the overall aesthetic of the film was realistic. In a positive review in NYT on 15 Apr 1988, Janet Maslin described “the look of this film” as “genuinely three-dimensional and utterly enveloping” but acknowledged that the story suffered from “narrative vagueness.” An 11 Apr 1988 DV review stated that the film featured “one of the best-ever car chases and plenty of explicit – and appropriate here – violence.” In a negative review for LAT on 15 Apr 1988, Sheila Benson claimed the filmmakers did “nothing to sketch in the social and economic pressures that lead kids to…gangs.” Benson’s sentiment was echoed in a 22 Apr 1988 Reader review that criticized the film’s failure to address political, economic, and social issues surrounding gangs, as well as its uninformed characterizations of minorities, especially black people, stating, “ Colors becomes not a story about gangs, but a story about how white people should deal with gangs and, by extension, poor minorities.”
       In its opening weekend, the film took in $4.8 million in box-office receipts, playing on 422 screens, resulting in a per screen average of $11,249, as stated in the 19 Apr 1988 LAT article. Jim Edwards, president of Edwards Theaters, Orange County’s largest movie theater chain, stated that Colors had the top opening weekend in the area so far that year, taking in an average of over $20,000 per screen. On 26 Apr 1988, LAHExam stated that Orion had earned $8.5 million to the time. A 20 Apr 1988 HR article announced that the release would expand to a total of more than 1,200 screens on 29 Apr 1988, and stated that Colors had made a “boxoffice killing” the previous weekend. After nine weeks of release, the film had taken in $41.7 million in box-office receipts, according to a 17 Jun 1988 Tampa Bay Times report.
       A home video version was scheduled to be released 17 Nov 1988, with several minutes of added footage and a new running time of 127 minutes, as reported by Var on 28 Sep 1988.



The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Austin Hodaie, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1988
p. 3, 21.
Daily Variety
13 Apr 1988
p. 2, 29.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1988
p. 1, 20.
Daily Variety
13 May 1988.
---
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1988
p. 4, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 1989.
---
LAHExam
26 Apr 1988
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Jul 1987
Section A, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
11 Apr 1988
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
14 Apr 1988
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1988
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
19 Apr 1988
p. 1.
New York Times
15 Apr 1988
Section C, p. 4.
Press-Telegram
17 Apr 1988.
---
Reader
22 Apr 1988.
---
Tampa Bay Times
17 Jun 1988
p. 6.
Variety
13 Apr 1988
p. 13.
Variety
28 Sep 1988.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Robert H. Solo Production
A Dennis Hopper Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Still photog
Spec photog
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Best boy
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Assoc ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Carpenter foreman
Labor foreman
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Const labor
Painter
Stand-by painter
Prop master
Asst prop master
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
Mural & graffiti artist
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Set cost
Set cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus consultant
Mus consultant
Addl score
Addl score
Addl score
Addl score
Addl score
Addl score
Spec guest appearance by
Mus rec eng
Addl mus courtesy of
Addl mus courtesy of, Capitol Production Music
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Sd des/Re-rec mixer
Sd des
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff foreman
Asst eff
Asst eff
Titles
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Asst makeup
Key hair stylist
Asst hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Extras casting, The Atmosphere Agency, Inc.
Casting dir
Extras casting, The Atmosphere Agency, Inc.
Set coord
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Video assist
Video assist
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Helicopter pilot
Set security provided by
Set security provided by
Company security
Main security
Set police coord
Tech adv
L.A.P.D. gang division-C.R.A.S.H.
Tech adv
Tech adv
L.A. county sheriff's dept gang division-"O.S.S."
Asst to Mr. Penn
Asst to Ms. Alonso
Asst to Mr. Duvall
Fitness trainer for Mr. Penn
Catering by
First aid
Craft service
Studio teacher
Asst to Mr. Solo
Asst to Mr. Hopper
Prod secy
Prod assoc
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Radio announcer
KRLA Radio
Post prod services provided by
a division of Lucasfilm Ltd.
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
SOURCES
SONGS
"Colors," performed by Ice-T, written by Ice-T & Afrika Islam, published by Colgems/EMI Music, Inc./Rhyme Syndicate Music, courtesy of Sire Records/Rhyme Syndicate Productions
"One Time One Night," performed by Los Lobos, written by David Hidalgo & Louie Perez, published by Bug Music, courtesy of Slash Records/Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Raw," performed by Big Daddy Kane, written by Antonio Hardy & Marlon Williams, published by Cold Chillin' Music, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc./Cold Chillin' Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Colors," performed by Ice-T, written by Ice-T & Afrika Islam, published by Colgems/EMI Music, Inc./Rhyme Syndicate Music, courtesy of Sire Records/Rhyme Syndicate Productions
"One Time One Night," performed by Los Lobos, written by David Hidalgo & Louie Perez, published by Bug Music, courtesy of Slash Records/Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Raw," performed by Big Daddy Kane, written by Antonio Hardy & Marlon Williams, published by Cold Chillin' Music, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc./Cold Chillin' Records, Inc.
"Go Girl," performed by Roxanne Shante, written by Antonio Hardy & Marlon Williams, published by Cold Chillin' Music, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc./Cold Chillin' Records, Inc.
"Butcher Shop," performed by Kool G. Rap, written by Nathaniel T. Wilson & Marlon Williams, published by Cold Chillin' Music, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc./Cold Chillin' Records, Inc.
"No Vuelvo Amar," performed by Los Cadetes de Linares, written by Alfonso Esparza Oteo, published by Promotora Espano Americana de Musica, S.A., courtesy of Ramex Records & Tapes, Inc.
"Angel Baby," performed by Rosie & The Originals, written by Rose Hamlin, published by ABZ Music Corp., courtesy of Kerwood Records
"Soon, And Very Soon," performed by Paula Bellamy, Marsha Bullock, Billy Griffin and Rick Howell, written by Andrae Crouch, published by Crouch/Lexicon
"Low Rider," performed by War, written by Le Roy Jordan, Thomas Sylvester Allen, Harold Ray Brown, Morris Dewayne Dickerson, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar Levitin, Howard E. Scott and Gerald Goldstein, published by Far Out Music, courtesy of LAX Records, Inc.
"Sally Go 'Round the Roses," performed by Jaynetts, written by Abner Spector, published by Cherish Music, courtesy of Abner Spector c/o Janus Records, Inc.
"Such a Night," performed by Dr. John, written by Mac Rebennack, published by Cotillion Music, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Bloody Mary Morning," performed by Willie Nelson, written by Willie Nelson, published by Willie Nelson Music Company, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Land of 1000 Dances," performed by Cannibal & The Headhunters, written by Kris Kenner and Fats Domino, published by Thursday Music, courtesy of Gordo Enterprises
"A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste," performed by M.C. Shan, written by Shawn Moltke and Marlon Williams, published by Cold Chillin' Music, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc./Cold Chillin' Records, Inc.
"Este Necio Corazon," performed by Maly Y Su Playa Azul, written by Cuco Escaler, published by Drive-In Music Co., Inc., courtesy of Maly Y Su Playa Azul
"Makossa '87," performed by Manu Dibango, written by Manu Dibango, published by Fantasia, courtesy of Enemy Records
"A Mi Pueblo," performed by Maly Y Su Playa Azul, written by Jose L. Martinez, published by Drive-In Music Co., Inc., courtesy of Maly Y Su Playa Azul
"Crumblin' Down," performed by John Cougar Mellencamp
written by John Cougar Mellencamp
published by Riva Music, Inc., courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.
"Rhythm Killer," performed by Sly & Robbie, written by Robbie Shakespeare, Ally Dunbar and Bill Laswell, published by Island Music, Inc., courtesy of Island Records
"Six Gun," performed by Decadent Dub Team, written by David Williams and Jeff Liles, published by Island Music, Inc., courtesy of Island Records
"Everywhere I Go (Colors)," performed by Rick James, written by Rick James, published by Stone City Music/admin. by National League Music, courtesy of Maryjane Productions
"Memories of El Monte," performed by The Penguins, written by Frank Zappa and Ray Collins, published by Drive-In Music Co., Inc., courtesy of Original Sound Entertainment
"Mad Mad World," performed by 7A3, written by Brett Bouldin, Sean Bouldin and Johnny Rivers, published by .357 Music, courtesy of Vendetta Records
"Love Guarantee," performed by Kenia Hernandez and Courtney Gains, written by Kenia Hernandez, published by Kenia Publishing
"Squeeze the Trigger," performed by Ice-T, written by Ice-T and Afrika Islam, published by Colgems/EMI Music, Inc./ Rhyme Syndicate Music, courtesy of Sire Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Oogum Boogum," performed by Brenton Wood, written by Alfred Smith," published by Big Shot Music, courtesy of Double Shot Records
"Let the Rhythm Run," performed by Salt-N-Pepa, written by Fingerprints, published by Next Plateau Music/Turnout Bros. Music, courtesy of Next Plateau Records, Inc.
"Paid in Full," performed by Eric B. and Rakim, written by Eric B. and Rakim, published by Island Music, Inc., courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 April 1988
Production Date:
23 February--May 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
20 June 1988
Copyright Number:
PA371960
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording; Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
Color
Metrocolor®
Prints
DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
120
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28876
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Officer Bob Hodges, a nineteen-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, meets new officer, Danny McGavin, and afterward, they attend a meeting led by Officer Melindez for the CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit, a select group of twenty-four policemen targeting Los Angeles gangs, namely the Bloods and Crips. After McGavin makes a rude joke at the meeting, Melindez assigns him to partner with Hodges. One night, Rocket and several gang members from the Crips smoke marijuana while driving a van. As they slow down on a residential street, Rocket shoots Robert Craig, a member of the Bloods, outside his house. McGavin and Hodges arrive soon after to find Craig’s mother weeping. McGavin badgers a witness who refuses to talk, but Hodges steps in, reminding his partner that the woman is only protecting herself. Back at the station, Officer Reed orders Hodges and several others to apprehend members of both gangs for questioning. One day, McGavin and Hodges pull up by a curb where several Crips, including Rocket, are congregating. Hodges talks to Killer-Bee, who was just released from county jail, and encourages him to stay away from the Crips. Driving away, Hodges complains about being re-assigned to CRASH after working an easier assignment at a juvenile detention center. In an alley nearby, Hodges and McGavin spot a possible drug deal. While Hodges holds up several gang members, McGavin chases one suspect on foot. When caught, the young man identifies himself as Clarence Brown, also known as “High Top.” After McGavin finds the small bag of crack cocaine High Top ditched under a car, Hodges lets him and the other gang members go with a warning. ... +


Officer Bob Hodges, a nineteen-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, meets new officer, Danny McGavin, and afterward, they attend a meeting led by Officer Melindez for the CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit, a select group of twenty-four policemen targeting Los Angeles gangs, namely the Bloods and Crips. After McGavin makes a rude joke at the meeting, Melindez assigns him to partner with Hodges. One night, Rocket and several gang members from the Crips smoke marijuana while driving a van. As they slow down on a residential street, Rocket shoots Robert Craig, a member of the Bloods, outside his house. McGavin and Hodges arrive soon after to find Craig’s mother weeping. McGavin badgers a witness who refuses to talk, but Hodges steps in, reminding his partner that the woman is only protecting herself. Back at the station, Officer Reed orders Hodges and several others to apprehend members of both gangs for questioning. One day, McGavin and Hodges pull up by a curb where several Crips, including Rocket, are congregating. Hodges talks to Killer-Bee, who was just released from county jail, and encourages him to stay away from the Crips. Driving away, Hodges complains about being re-assigned to CRASH after working an easier assignment at a juvenile detention center. In an alley nearby, Hodges and McGavin spot a possible drug deal. While Hodges holds up several gang members, McGavin chases one suspect on foot. When caught, the young man identifies himself as Clarence Brown, also known as “High Top.” After McGavin finds the small bag of crack cocaine High Top ditched under a car, Hodges lets him and the other gang members go with a warning. Afterward, McGavin complains about Hodges’s lenience, but his partner informs him that he has too much adrenaline. At a fast food restaurant, McGavin flirts with an employee named Louisa Gomez. Later that day, the officers drive past a group of children, and one boy throws a rock at their car. McGavin and Hodges chase the kids and happen upon other gang members. Frog, who is friendly with Hodges, helps them identify his little brother, Felipe, who threw the rock. After talking with Frog, Hodges decides to leave them alone. At a community meeting, Officer Reed and Ron Delaney, an ex-gang member, speak to local residents who argue that gang violence is directly related to the bad economy and a lack of jobs. Later, the Bloods mourn the loss of Robert Craig at his funeral. Meanwhile, several Crips drive past the church, firing automatic weapons. Hodges and McGavin, who are parked close by, witness the shooting and chase the car. After a lengthy pursuit, the gang car crashes and explodes, and McGavin crashes as well. In their upturned vehicle, Hodges tells McGavin that his wife wants to meet him. Entertaining McGavin and Louisa at his home, Hodges advises his partner to act like a professional and avoid the urge to fight every gang member, but McGavin respectfully disagrees. After a drug bust, officers learn that High Top has been receiving large supplies of cocaine smuggled into the country inside fire extinguishers, and McGavin angrily acknowledges that he could have arrested High Top had Hodges not insisted on letting him go the other day. Later, McGavin and Hodges find Felipe, Frog’s little brother, spray-painting a wall, crossing off the names of rival gang members who are going to be killed. Again, Hodges sends Felipe away with a warning, but McGavin stops him and spray-paints his face. Later, McGavin beats and arrests another gang member for giving him a rude look. At the station, Hodges challenges McGavin to a fistfight and tells him that he’s “nothing but a gangster.” After learning that he spray-painted Felipe, her cousin, Louisa breaks up with McGavin and expresses her alliance to Frog’s gang. Later, Hodges spots High Top in a car by the beach and chases him. High Top commandeers a motorcycle and crashes it into a restaurant, and McGavin follows him inside where they fight each other in the kitchen until Hodges arrives. With High Top now arrested, McGavin apologizes to Hodges for the trouble he has given him, but Hodges informs him that he has asked for a new partner. In prison, Bloods members beat High Top for making drug deals with Crips, and High Top later offers information to a sheriff in exchange for medical assistance, informing him that Rocket shot Robert Craig. Later, McGavin and Hodges question the owners of the van that Rocket used in Craig’s shooting, and learn that Rocket’s girlfriend’s name is Sharon Robbins. The next day, officers break into Sharon’s house while she is having sex with Killer-Bee. Though Hodges announces that the man in her bed is not Rocket, Rusty Baines, another officer, shoots Killer-Bee after he reaches for his pants. As Killer-Bee dies in her bed, Sharon blames McGavin and promises revenge. Rocket then learns what has happened and decides to kill McGavin. Frog, who is in jail for unpaid tickets, overhears a Crips member talking about Rocket’s plans and informs Hodges, earning himself an early release from jail. That night, Frog attends a party to celebrate his release, and the Crips commit a drive-by shooting of the party but instead manage to kill someone at the neighboring house. Arriving on the scene, McGavin is shocked to find Louisa getting dressed in a bedroom after having had sex with one of the gang. Later, Frog’s gang ambushes Rocket’s hideout in retaliation, and several gang members die in the firefight, including Rocket. Later that night, police swarm Frog’s gang as they party around a campfire. After most of the partygoers are subdued, Bird, one of the gang members, shoots and kills Hodges. Some time later, McGavin drives around with his new partner who seems immature and hotheaded. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.