You won't find any noble-savage stereotypes in Noam Gonick's angry gang-banging drama; the ravaged Native Americans who inhabit the film's Manitoba wasteland are closer in spirit to South Central street survivalists than to yesteryear's Sioux chiefs. A violent turf war is being waged over Winnipeg's ghettos between the Indian Posse, led by Mama Ceece (Fontaine), and the largely Filipino members of the Asian Bomb Squad, fronted by "half-breed" Omar (Black). While the indigenous locals battle the city's immigrant youth, a mute, arson-obsessed orphan (Henry) nicknamed Stryker (slang for a new recruit) pinballs between both camps. As the pimps and pushers prepare for a final rumble, no one seems to know what fate has in store for this volatile lad.
Gonick wastes no time in establishing that the real enemy is Canada's white ruling class, conspicuous by its absence save for one predatory matriarch. Unfortunately, the director's interest in exploring the bigger picture ends there, and sociological insight loses out to sensationalism. Cultural commentary is soon overshadowed by headline-ready violence, homoerotic voyeurism (no opportunity to ogle shirtless beefcake is left unexploited) and, via a pot shot taken at a Winnipeg film critic, the director's own self-serving agenda. All hopes for a potent political screed about ethnic youth fighting over bread crumbs are soon dashed; Gonick eventually becomes too infatuated with perfecting his subversive smirk to worry about defending the downtrodden. (Now playing; Museum of Modern Art.)—David Fear