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Dead Presidents

Year: 1995
Director: Albert Hughes/Allen Hughes
Writer: Albert Hughes/Allen Hughes
Cast: Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker
The Hughes Brother's have rarely made a bad movie since they blazed onto the scene with Menace II Society, one of the nastiest of the hood dramas (along with Boyz In Tha Hood).

I'd seen most of the other movies before their seminal work of urban desperation in gangland, so I couldn't understand their having to defend themselves after From Hell, as they did to journalists who asked them how two brothers from the LA hood could know anything about London in the time of Jack the Ripper (they famously answered that Steven Spielberg's never been in space, but nobody questions his authority to make movies about aliens).

But after Menace II Society, I can understand how people who wanted to pigeonhole them would be uncomfortable about the reach they were achieving.

Dead Presidents was partway between the two, but no less brilliant for it. It looks like just another cool urban crime film, an action drama with an emphasis on the action.

Instead it tells a heartfelt story of the experience of black soldiers returning from Vietnam, the dislocation they felt and the desperate measures they had to resort to (as they do here).

When the action comes, it's blistering as the crew start robbery to live and support various habits including drugs. There are no guns and criminals are cool, as most of the cast get their comeuppance in variously nasty ways, but it's got a lot of depth and feeling, and shouldn't be passed of as just an action film.

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