This begins in lyrical Deep South mood with Jason (Payne) sitting on a Greyhound bus and recalling his traumatic Houston childhood, when his estranged Viet-vet father Maddog (Whitaker) would go on binges brutally proclaiming his love for Jason's mom (Douglas); the gunshot that put an end to his attacks resulted in Jason's younger brother Josh (Woodbine) turning to a life of drugs and imprisonment. Years later, Jason's still trying to keep the volatile Josh in check, but when he takes up with gang leader Alonzo, elder brother of Lyric (Pinkett), whose romantic sensitivity has allowed Jason's nightmares to turn into dreams of a better life, it's clear that Jason will have to choose between his family and his lover. Bobby Smith Jr's script is an all-black blend of themes from Romeo and Juliet and the Cain and Abel story - a risky conceit, but one that in general works surprisingly well, thanks to muscular performances, and an atmospheric portrayal of life in and around the Houston suburbs that rarely descends into stereotype. The movie's a touch too long, and its romantic interludes are sometimes too highly coloured, but McHenry's control of the nicely unsentimental tone is pretty assured, while there's a bonus in the soundtrack which mixes bluesy electric guitar and soul standards.
Cast and crew
Bobby Smith Jr
Allen Payne Jada Pinkett Forest Whitaker Bokeem Woodbine Suzanne Douglas Anthony 'Treach' Criss Lisa Carson