Turn it Up

Turn it Up is a gritty movie that tries to capture the look and feel of gangsta and hip-hop cultures. As such, it's an interesting, albeit surface-level, look at both those cultures, with an extremely cool music background.

Diamond (Prakazriel Michel aka Pras, of the Fugees fame) is a drug-dealer and gangster who ekes out a living with childhood friend Gage (Ja Rule), working for the sinister Mr. B (Jason Statham). But Diamond's real ambition is to release an hip-hop album and become legitimate. However, he must perform various illegitimate operations before he can reach his goal.

Even though the plot is really that simple (who do you empathise with), there is a tangential complexity to the film. This is because of various threads that are sewn into its fabric, including those involving Diamond's father (Vondie Curtis Hall), who introduces him to analogue sounds (whose value is overrated if there's high enough resolution in the digital world); Diamond's girlfriend Kia (Tamala Jones) who has just become pregnant and who wants him to give up his gangster lifestyle; and Gage's method for financing Diamond's album.

If for no other reason, this movie is worth watching for the musical content, which features a set of decent rap/hip-hop tunes. The performances by the actors are decent, though it is Jones and Curtis Hall that really shine. The urban atmosphere through the film is dark and edgy and the two-gun Tarantino-influenced shoot-out scenes are done well. I highly recommend checking Turn it Up on the big screen with a good sound system.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org