Year of Release: 1998
Production Companies: LIVE Entertainment/Artisan Entertainment (Later acquired by Lionsgate)
I’m back and I will try to update this more and I have also been contemplating starting my movie blog, which I will link to this one at some point. Also, it’s December, so I may post some Christmas-related stuff soon.
Like in many other reviews that I have done, I give a little personal history lesson and this will be no exception, because this film is something that I never thought that I would revisit. For starters, I actually remember seeing TV spots of this film on BET and/or MTV in early 1998. This was definitely a film that I sense didn’t do so well at the box office as sources had stated that it only made $6.754 million overall. There really wasn’t a lot of advertisement for it, though I remember seeing ads for the soundtrack around that same time, which I also plan to cover.
The other thing is this: In my Hot Boyz review, I had noted that I initially had this movie as part of a 4-pack of movies that I bought for $5 at Walmart way back when. I later sold it, especially considering my feelings towards Hot Boyz (Though I may cover Phat Beach soon, as well as Foolish if I get my hands on it or find a way to watch it). However, this film somehow came crawling back, as I wasn’t fond of it when I first saw it.
What happened was that a local new/used bookstore, which also carried DVDs, in my area was closing sometime recently. It was on its last few days, so I went in and bought a lot of movies. When I saw that this was one of them (As well as another I wasn’t a big fan of), I went ahead and bought them considering the deal I would be getting. I mean what was the harm, right?
Then came an itch of me wanting to give it a re-watch recently, probably because I was listening to the soundtrack. For some reason I had the temptation to watch it. I mean I know I didn’t like it, but then I thought about covering it for this website. As said before, what was the harm?
So I gave it a re-watch and now here comes my take on it. Oh, and how this film relates to it being hip-hop, I will get to that.
Okay, so the movie surrounds Daryl Allen, played by Bokeem Woodbine, a man who just got out of jail after a five-year stretch for being linked to a robbery that his troublemaker friend got him involved in. Before he went through all of that, it hadn’t been long since Daryl’s initial release. That’s right, he went back to jail not long after getting released. It wasn’t like he planned on being involved in the robbery. After his release, he meets a woman named Vanessa, played by Cynda Williams, who looks dead-on like Daryl’s ex-girlfriend Trish (They were played by the same actress). Vanessa turns about to be a tarot reader and foresees Daryl’s future, which shows him getting caught up in some stuff. Hence the title of this film.
Right when you put this on, it’s obvious that this film was shot on a low-budget. Even for late-1990s standards, this film has the feel of a low-budget film, especially with the production company behind it. LIVE/Artisan Entertainment weren’t known for putting out films with a high budget. In fact, I think one of their highest budgeted movies that they released was Ringmaster, that Jerry Springer film (In some ways, I would watch it for shear curiosity, as I have a thing about watching “bad” movies), as it was only shot for $20 million.
Back to this film, what was shown about its budget were the effects and the fact that there were no name actors in this film. Sure, Bokeem Woodbine might have been among the better-known actors, as in recent memory he was in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But if I were to guess, this film was probably among the very few, if only lead roles he has had. Sure, he had billing in The Big Hit, which came out that same year, but that was among the likes of Mark Wahlberg and Lou Diamond Phillips. As for his performance, I think he did a decent job, especially at displaying emotion during certain sequences. Cynda Williams did a good job in her role, even though her role as Trish only came during so few sequences but all of the dialogue was done for the Vanessa character. Plus, I never complain seeing Clifton Powell on screen, as he did a good job with his character.
The problem with this film was that so many things went on that it was hard to keep track what the plot really was. Sure, Daryl wanted to go straight but then got caught up in some mess. One story element had him get chased by some guy trying to shoot him. It was mostly forgotten about until the every end and when you see what it really was about, it was mostly a revenge thing with a character you knew so little about from the start. But regarding anything else, I wouldn’t have expected some twists to occur, which I have to hand to the writers for coming up with that.
Also, Snoop Dogg and LL Cool J had cameos in this movie. While Snoop was just in a scene with Daryl driving him around, LL’s cameo had relevance to the plot. Plus, both guys were listed in the credits as special appearances, so they weren’t just walk-on roles.
One thing that got me was the camera-work and editing in some scenes. For example, during the film’s love scene, I found it funny how the camera circled around the two actors, while some sequences faded into other shots. It definitely had the feel of something that came out during that time.
All I can say is that I wouldn’t call this film good, but it grew on me a little bit since the last time I saw it. While the film does have its problems, it’s not as bad as I remember it. Some parts got me laughing a bit for the wrong reasons. I was also entertained more this time around. Also, I liked Basil Wallace in this film as Ahmad, one of the film’s antagonists. He also reminded me of the character he played in that Steven Seagal film, Marked For Death. This was one of those moments where the film got better on repeated viewings. What amazed me is how it went to theaters, but it probably didn’t take long until it was pulled. It’s one of those films that you would probably watch if you have nothing to do, like during the days when local channels would show movies on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, or even when USA used to show movies at 1 or 2 in the morning. You could do better, but you could do a lot worse, too.