*Here be spoilers.
Director: Mo Ali.
Writer: Paul Van Carter.
Shank is a South London shot film from a collaboration of production companies including: Gunslinger and Gateway Films. Revolver Entertainment released and produced (Gunslinger) this film within the Commonwealth first before shipping it across the Atlantic to DVD in the United States (October 5th). This is Revolver’s first feature film production. The film stands out for its rich soundtrack and for setting itself in a gang ridden London, five years in the future (2015). Everyone is on the “paper chase” (Shank) and the only way to survive in a down-turned economy is to steal from you fellow hustler. This is a film where direction matters and first time director and Saudi Arabian born Mo Ali is up to the challenge.
The film begins with a nice, exciting hook as a hooded man on dirt-bike chases Junior, one of the members of the Paperchazers street gang. Shank uses some time shifting to move the action back and forth, but the film is building to climax between two gangs: the Paperchazers and the Somali Souljahz. Strangely, the Paperchazers have chosen a pacifist strategy for dealing with a new very violent environment and soon their numbers are reduced by one druing a botched food robbery attempt. The rest of the film turns into a Pagan family feud styled film, where one brother seeks blood for blood, after his brother is stabbed to death by the leader of the Somali Souljahz, Tugz.
The music is memorable for bringing the best in UK’s underground hip-hop game into the film and into the film’s soundtrack. Adam Deacon, Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas, and Michael Socha each bring their vocals to a gritty, urban score and they also bring their knowledge of the tough East London streets to their performances. Tempa T and D Double E also bring some stellar performances to the club scenes and the musical score is one of many highlights in the film.
Director Ali has a strong background producing videos in the UK urban music scene. His knowledge of what makes a viewing interesting is shown in his subtle additions. Sometimes Junior’s pursuit of his brother’s killer, Tugz, turns into a video game, or a drug induced, colourful trip. The camera is always moving and so will the viewer’s attention. Although sometimes music video-ish, the attention to detail and the inclusion of gang names in titles makes the visual story more interesting and followable.
Revolver’s first showing through their production arm Gunslinger is one to see and one to listen to. This production has already covered its costs thanks to a strong support in the urban music scene and this film made a positive impression on this reviewer also. Already seen twice now, Shank has a gripping story about family loyalty and musical beats that amplify the effect of screenwriter Paul Van Carter’s heartfelt story of brotherhood. So get your “man dem,” (Shank) or friends together and your “munchies” (Shank) for a fun time in a worst case scenario London.
Plot/story/unity/closure 8 (interesting story with many, interesting characters – the ending slightly falters, as it struggles to find a meaning in it all).
Setting/realism/authenticity: 7 (mostly well dressed streets and clubs in the suitable rubbish and refuse, but occasionally traffic appears and disappears in scenes).
Overall: 7.5 out of 10.