I really enjoyed this especially as I wasn't excited by the prospect of watching it initially. The premise revolves around the murder of a latin-american gang member responsible for forming and maintaining a truce between two feuding factions; a hit in which his brother 'Dreamer' is also badly wounded with an incredibly graphic and stylishly presented gunshot wound to the head within the opening minutes.
There are a few story strands going on simultaneously. Dreamer is trying and struggling to recollect events after his serious brain trauma and solve the murder of his brother, a number of bodies of other gang members are turning up in alleyways having been tortured first and a fractious relationship is developing between a female newly transferred detective into this part of LA with a grizzled, sozzled, corrupt(?) detective locally. Cliched? Maybe, but done very well nonetheless. Another review made a sound comparison with 'Training Day' and 'American History X' which I concur with, especially the former.
I thought the character acting was very good, it was quite graphic and bordered on horror territory at times with the torture snippets and there was enough going on to engage the brain. It was a very good depiction of life within a certain enviroment where beyond the odd person with psychopathic tendancies, others didn't seem irredeemably bad despite being capable of horrendous actions. It has quite a lot to recommend, the directing style was good, the animated opening credits great, some good and not overplayed fitting tunes. I learned long ago that whilst straight to dvd releases MAY be an indicator of quality it is not a given. There have been many mis-judged commercial and political reasons which have doomed many a solid independent film to cult level obscurity so I never make any assumptions. There are some interesting looking extras as well and I look forward to watching it with the director's commentary. A good 7 out of 10.