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Video Review: 'Original Gangstas'

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If gangsta rap’s harsh realities make the impassioned soul tunes of the early ’70s sound like lullabies, the same, sadly, isn’t true of the genre’s cinematic equivalent Original Gangstas. Sure, it’s nice to see grizzled blaxploitation vets like Grier, Williamson, and Jim Brown take on youngbloods. (Superfly‘s Ron O’Neal and Shaft‘s Richard Roundtree have small roles; even director Larry Cohen is a ’70s-schlock survivor.) But the plot is a rehashed vigilante number that would make Charles Bronson blush, and the oft-stated message is that when these characters were kids, they terrorized people using only 2x4s, not guns. What a relief. For all the respect-your-elders rhetoric, the tape’s only incendiary moments are the three rap videos after the movie. C

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