TURN IT UP
Release Date: September 08, 2000
Starring: Vondie Curtis Hall, Pras, Ja
Rule, Patricia Velasquez, &
Genre: Urban Crime Drama
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: Robert Adetuyi
Producer: Gary Ventimiglia
Writer: Ray ‘Cory’ Daniels, Chris
Hudson & Kelly Hilaire
Address Comments To:Robert Shaye, CEO
Mitch Goldman, President
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Real life member of The Fugees, hip-hop artist “Pras” Michel (of MYSTERY MEN) stars as Diamond, a rap artist struggling to pursue his dream. His best friend, Gage, played by rap artist Ja Rule, is a loyal though misled chum whom Diamond repeatedly must convince to stay out of trouble. This only infuriates Gage, who tells Diamond that the only way out of the ghetto is by playing the game, a game of violence, drugs and crime. Gage does drug deliveries for “Mr. B,” an Australian crime lord with attitude who exterminates anyone who gets in his way.
Diamond has problems of his own. His girlfriend, Tamara (Tamela Jones), tells him that she’s pregnant and, at first, he wants nothing to do with that. Then, he loses his mother and at the funeral he sees his father (played by Vondie Curtis Hall of TV’s CHICAGO HOPE) for the first time in a long time. Though he is angry upon seeing him, he soon discovers his father’s reasons for leaving Diamond and his mother, and learns to forgive him.
Meanwhile, Gage gets deeper and deeper into illegal activity and asks Diamond to help. Diamond wants no part of it, but later concedes when Gage convinces him there is no other way out of the ghetto. The pair winds up in the middle of a deal gone sour, and a gun battle ensues. Gage gets into further trouble when he robs one of Mr. B’s clients in order to fund Diamond’s music career. Mr. B finds out, and, after many threats of violence, there is a bloody showdown. Gage must answer for the decisions he has made, and Diamond must contemplate taking responsibility for his family.
TURN IT UP tries hard to find a balance between being tough and being sensitive. Diamond and particularly Gage are the “heroes,” though they get involved in illegal activity, drug dealing and murder. There is no thought to these killings, making their heroics seem empty and almost even silly. Yes, Gage wants to fund Diamond’s dream, but with money that was a result of theft, drug dealing and murder. Diamond, when faced with his girlfriend’s pregnancy, is callused, wanting nothing to do with her or the child. Diamond’s father and the rebuilding of their relationship are probably the most genuine things in the entire movie, though Diamond later accepts responsibility for his child and apologizes.
Regrettably, the movie’s more than 180 obscenities, many of which were used during uncomfortable pauses in scenes, left little time in the script for the drama. This is a trend in urban movies that reflects an inability of the writers and actors to portray anger without using four-letter words. Who can forget Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan in PATRIOT GAMES, when he stood there, merely trembling when his family was threatened. His anger was so strong and evident, that four letter words would have cheapened his character. That is the epitome of real acting, to portray thoughts and emotions merely with body movements and facial expressions, not just language and vocal subtleties.
Thus, because of the noisy amount of foul language and violence in TURN IT UP, the moral and redemptive elements are barely audible. They get lost in this somber tale from America's urban wilderness.
Regrettably, more than 160 obscenities, many of which were used during uncomfortable pauses in scenes, left little room in this movie for drama. This is a trend in urban movies that reflects an inability of the writers and actors to portray anger without using four-letter words. Such language cheapens the acting performances and story in TURN IT UP. Thus, because of the noisy amount of foul language and violence in this movie, the moral and redemptive elements are barely audible