The future is now and it is bleak and hopeless; population, crime, death and disease have all risen while the food (munchies) necessary to feed everybody has diminished. Though the financial systems may have collapsed, three things still rule the streets of London: the gangs, the “munchies” gangs sell and the money gangs make from the “munchies” they sell. If you aren’t cliqued up with a street gang, you’re a victim being preyed on.
The Papercha$ers are a small five man gang, lead by Rager, that specialize in acquiring and slanging munchies in the street markets but every ‘hood has a gang and every gang has a rival, in this case those rivals are the Thugz.
After the crew are chased off during a heist by the Thugz, Rager’s younger brother Junior is cornered in a parking garage and attacked leading to a heated battle between Rager, defending his brother, and several members of the Thugz. Unwilling to play fair, the leader of the vicious gang stabs Rager in the back, leaving him for dead. Junior, scared and injured, makes his way back to The Papercha$ers where he and the crew decide to avenge the murder.
Now The Papercha$ers, lead by Junior, must make their way across the city, facing gangs as they go, in a quest to build a coalition of gangs and eventually confront the murderous Thugz.
Shank is a beautifully shot, amazingly produced and wonderfully acted urban action flick! The concept wasn’t especially original but its not what you have but what you do with it, right? Mo Ali has successfully combined the post-nuke sci-fi subgenre and merged action cinema with a Hip Hop sensibility that’s both true to its roots and accessible to viewers unfamiliar with the urban lifestyle or its music. From the first guttural bassline to kick in to the last buzz, Shank’s Grime/Dubstep/Hip Hop score created the kind of filthy audio atmosphere few films actually achieve. Most films have scores but to use a score so effectively that it literally becomes inseparable with the visuals, well that’s just an artform. Coupled with insane cinematography and mind-blowing animation sequences, Shank is about as unique as they come.
The UK urban action/crime film has been on the rise for quite awhile now though it seems that in the last few years the focus is turning from soccer hooligans and Cockney gangsters to Black Britons and multicultural crews featuring whites, blacks and those of Middle Eastern descent. There’s more than enough room in cinema for this type of action film so I say bring it on so long as the films don’t end up devolving into the type of shot-on-video, directed-by-rappers direct-to-DVD trash we get here in the states.
Shank is highly recommended. I must admit to not really liking the end much as I felt Ali went hard the entire film all to ease up in finale of the production. Just a taste issue I guess, I just felt some characters got off too easy and a subplot was left to swing in the breeze. Perhaps a Shank 2 was being considered? Anyhow, if you’re a fan of Kidulthood, you’re going to find Shank just as entertaining.