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South Central Review

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★★★★

Without wishing to trivialise South Central L.A.'s very real problems, residents can only be thankful that life does not imitate what is passed off as art in South Central the movie.

As well as larceny as a fact of life, a drug epidemic and a murderous level of street violence, the celluloid situation is further degraded by its entire population being drawn from a 70s edition of The Black Movie Cliches Directory. You know the drill: women are called "bitches" and behave like sluts; men are trigger-happy, libido-driven congenital criminals ; and speech patterns and attitudes are clearly taken from the How To Be Black In Hollywood School featured in the entirely satirical Hollywood Shuffle.

And, worse still, South Central attempts a Boyz N The Hood credibility by purporting to be a study of a father and son relationship set against an urban warzone, but fails to capture that movie's honesty and power. The tale is simple enough: a young hoodlum is given life imprisonment and, on his release ten years later, is deeply worried about his pre-teen son growing up to be an even younger hoodlum.

Having converted to Islam inside (sound familiar?), he gets the lad on the straight and narrow, bringing him into conflict with his old running mates, who are now enticing the boy into crime. Largely, real emotions are substituted here by people swearing and trying to kill each other, which adds up to a shamefully dehumanising piece of work. Quite why executive producer Oliver Stone allowed his name to stay in the credits is anyone's guess.

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