Gary, Indiana: a dying steeltown. A young basketball hopeful is killed by hoodlums. An elderly cornerstore proprietor tells the cops who did it. The Rebels shoot him. The man's football-coach son (Williamson) returns from LA and, with the help of angry oldies, including the dead boy's mum (Grier) and estranged, ex-boxer father (Brown), sets about cleaning up the town. He declares war on the Rebels - ironic, given that two decades earlier he'd been a founder of the gang. Despite its standard formula, this belated blaxploitation picture is something of an oddity. First, it attempts to frame its story of ghetto warfare within an economic and political context; second, it pits '70s stars against the kind of younger, more heavily armed and more nihilistic characters familiar from '90s fare. In siding so explicitly with the old-timers in their outrage at mindless murder, it flirts with sentimentality, but at least it's not seduced by the gangstas' macho posturing; moreover, Williamson and Brown's own former irresponsibilities - abandoning families and struggling communities - are presented as being at least partly to blame for the chaos and carnage now on the streets. As an action-thriller the film never quite delivers; sociologically, however, it's not without interest.
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