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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.57%
Worth A Look: 19.05%
Just Average42.86%
Pretty Crappy: 9.52%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 15 user ratings

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Dead Presidents
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by Chef ADogg

"It's hammy, but I dig it."
3 stars

I wish this movie had never gone to Vietnam. If the horrors had gone unseen, this could have been a classic--the best hood movie of all time. Honestly.

Just think about it. Happy young black guy goes off to 'Nam instead of enrolling in college, comes back fucked up, ends up embroiled in a robbery that's bound to go wrong.

I personally would have preferred seeing Anthony (Larenz Tate) before and after Vietnam, rather than during. Because a) the Nam scenes aren't that good (how can they rate with movies like The Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now?), and b) what you don't see is more terrifying.

And that's exactly how Vietnam should be played in a movie like this--the horror to end all horrors.

Instead, the Hughes brothers go for a slick-gross out feeling in the war scenes, and that gums up the good parts. The opening scenes crackle, and the brothers film the heist sequence with a devastating bombast--at once larger than life, but also realistic enough to be truly frightening.

"Dead Presidents" works so well as a portrait of urban welfare that I don't know why the Hughes felt the need to include Vietnam scenes. Sure, the shadow of Nam looms large over the events that take place here, and everything gets a certain hellish tint that's fun to squeam around in, but the actual factual combat sequences don't work.

My reaction to most of it was "I didn't need to see that." A rotting head does nothing for me, and it hardly excites me to see a man chewing on his own prosthetic cock n balls. If those images were suggested, maybe even glimpsed in a flashback or nightmare, it would be totally different. But when we're confronted with these things as everday reality, the effect is so over the top that the audience's reaction is to squirm and then laugh.

"Dead Presidents" proves that Allen and Albert Hughes know how to handle atmosphere (if it succeeds at nothing else, this movie is fucking *intense*), and they can shoot with an utterly kinetic style that draws the audience in.

And they can juice everything with the right soundtrack. They take Scorsese's technique of using familiar, catchy songs as a backdrop for burning images, and that really gets my mojo rising. I dig it.

More pluses than minuses, but inconsistent. It's enjoyably badass one minute and devastating the next, but all pulled together by a tough emotional string that you can't deny. "Dead Presidents" is a wobbly film pulled over the fence by the raw power of the filmmakers.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2099&reviewer=123
originally posted: 09/27/99 21:54:04
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User Comments

12/08/17 morris campbell gritty well made but CORNY 3 stars
6/10/17 P.dunn Brilliant 5 stars
2/15/09 Jeff Wilder Quite good. Not up to the level of Menace II Society. But a good film. 4 stars
10/27/07 Kingpunkfunk Sure, it's not perfect; highly rated though, and comes with stellar recommendations!! 5 stars
5/17/07 Smiler good film, Larenz tate and Chris tucker are wicked. 5 stars
1/03/06 CrowTRobot Really could have been so much better...a near miss. 2 stars
2/12/05 R.W. Welch Pretty well done but we've seen all this before. 3 stars
10/11/03 Bermy boy A great film, one of my favorite period films with an amzing soundtrack 4 stars
12/29/02 Femme_Fataleaa If it were a white movie, it would be a classic! 5 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby The Hughes Brothers' best film. Underrated. 4 stars
10/16/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) A real downer. This is hands-down one of the most depressing flicks I've ever seen. 2 stars
2/18/01 Mart Dog The movie was really good, Larenz Tate is the shit in this one, great movie all around 5 stars
6/08/99 lucas jackson I thought this movie was entertaining, exciting and fucking awesome 5 stars
6/02/99 Bombtrax I dug it,worth a look. 4 stars
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  04-Oct-1995 (R)

  06-Sep-1996 (18)

  02-Jul-1996 (R)

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