Gang of Roses

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“Hip-hop feminist revisionist Western is entertaining mostly for fans of bad movies.”

This comes across less like a Western, more like a feature-length rap promo – with every bit as much emotional depth or historical accuracy. The idea that a gang of ethnic gun-toting women could ever ride into town at the turn of the century, and get served at the local saloon with little problem stretches credulity to near-breaking. It then snaps entirely when faced with their always-immaculate clothes and hair, even as the ladies sleep rough. The group of former bank-robbers return to the fray after the sister of one is killed by outlaws, under the control of the one-eyed Bobby Brown. Insert Whitney Houston joke here. He and his gang have taken control of a town, from a sheriff with a startlingly Australian accent, as part of their search for treasure supposedly buried locally.

With cameos by Mario Van Peebles and Macy Gray, the characterisations never pass the obvious: the revengeful one (Calhoun), the mercenary one (LisaRaye), and then there’s the ho – Lil’ Kim, of course. Despite dialogue about a hundred years later than the period, and an odd subplot that sputters out lamely, about a mysterious figure who seems to be stalking the girls, the directing manages somehow to be worse than the script. Case in point: the innumerable scenes of our heroines riding through the landscape, which serve no purpose whatsoever. The cliches come thick and fast, to the point where you wonder if this is supposed to be a parody – if so, however, it isn’t funny.

What it often is, is bad enough to be entertaining; otherwise, it’s bad enough to be utterly forgettable, and why this got an ‘R’ rating beats me entirely. The writers of another screenplay, Jessie’s Girl, sued the makers, claiming the story here was stolen from their work: in their shoes, I’d have kept very quiet. Must say though: the beautifully colour co-ordinated costumes, below, are fabulous, and the designer thereof deserves an award. Writer/director Lamarre, on the other hand, should be firmly discouraged from carrying out any more ‘reimaginings’.

Dir: Jean-Claude La Marre
Star: Monica Calhoun, LisaRaye, Lil’ Kim, Marie Matiko

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