Colors [DVD] 
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Dennis Hopper directs this classic 1980s crime drama starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall. Veteran cop nearing retirement Bob Hodges (Duvall) and rookie know-it-all Danny McGavin (Penn) are reluctantly teamed together on the L.A.P.D.'s C.R.A.S.H. (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit when they investigate a brutal gang murder. They soon find themselves involved in a dangerous turf war and are forced to put their differences aside in an attempt to keep each other alive. The supporting cast includes Maria Conchita Alonso, Randy Brooks and Glenn Plummer.
Directed by Dennis Hopper, Colors is a superior 1988 action movie set among the street gangs of LA that teams up Robert Duvall as Hodges, the elder cop, with young hothead partner Danny McGavin (Sean Penn). Investigating a murderous feud between the Bloods and the Crips, Duvall attempts to impress upon the impetuous Penn the value of a more cautious, easy-going approach in dealing with gang members, rather than trying to charge in among them. The film as a whole was one of the first to take a serious, unromantic and unstereotypical look at gang culture, at how youngsters are sucked into it, how few options are actually open to these macho hoodlums and how little they have in the way of family, community and stability other than the gangs. The partnership between Penn and Duvall by contrast, though well played, is pretty much the standard old cop/young cop set-up, right down to Duvalls frequent, ominous remarks about how close he is to retirement. While the action is sometimes disjointed and the relationships between the gangs at times confused, it at least helps to dispel the usual Hollywood good vs. evil dynamic. Instead, theres a more ambient sense of violence, desperation, retribution and recrimination. Penns doomed relationship with a homegirl indicates that while the LAPD may capture a few felons, theyve little chance of capturing the hearts and minds of the criminalised poor. Later films such as John Singletons Boyz 'n the Hood (1991) would go further in exploring how life looks from the gangsta perspective.
On the DVD: The films is presented in an anamorphic 16:9 widescreen version, with the usual chapter and language selections. The only other feature is the original, detailed but run-of-the-mill trailer. --David Stubbs
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Top Customer Reviews
The fine dividing line between the gangsta and the cop is the source of tension between two police partners and forms the central relationship of the film. The senior cop (Duvall) dislikes the brutal approach to policing adopted by his new and inexperienced partner (Penn) accusing him of being "just like them - nothing but a gangsta". There is a refreshing absence of Hollywood moralsing in this film which indicates that the violent events of the film are merely part of a wider reality that constantly repeats and reinforces itself. As one of the gang members argues ... "there will always be gangs man, always be fighting, that's just life".
The sordid filming locations and sharp dialogue give the film a powerful realism, and listen out for the brilliant and menacing theme song rapped by Ice-T. Hopper has directed a hard-edged and exciting film here and it wins my praise.
Danny McGavin (Penn) transfers to the LAPD C.R.A.S.H. unit and is teamed with wise old veteran Bob Hodges (Duvall). Thrust in the middle of the gang wars of L.A., McGavin finds his hot head approach to policing may not be the way forward.
Causing a bit of a stir upon release, with its depiction of gang life and violence, Colors is not as incendiary as that early reputation suggests. It's solidly put together, has the odd throat grabbing scene and the message is loud and clear without banging us over the head. It's also note worthy that a deal of authenticity comes out in the script. However, were it not for the lead performances of Penn and Duvall then much of Colors would be rendered as significantly restrained.
The two actors find great and believable chemistry whilst never resorting to twee buddy-buddy histrionics. It's this relationship that keeps Colors pulsing, their contrasting styles of policing keeping the character study interesting as the gang life axis fizzles to a near non event. Unfortunately, because the cop pairing is so strong, it means that a romance thread between McGavin and Louisa Gomez (Alonso) feels tacked on and the actress just isn't good enough to lift it away from pointless irritation.
With the lead gang players too thinly drawn, it's hard to get a handle on what is meant to be bubbling under the surface of Colors. A shame because there's some good actors spread out in the cast.Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great film, I remember watching this when it first came up. It was still just as good watching it know.Published 6 months ago by Shadow Demon
Another police drama involving the police and gang members and the interaction with the small amount of resources of the law relative to the 'problem'.Published 6 months ago by Walter Yeo
A brilliantly accurate insight into 80's/90's gangland black Muuurica. Plus it has Robert Duval, he never makes a bad movie.Published 6 months ago by Ryan Banks
I was 18 when i once saw this movie i like it so much that i had to buy itPublished 7 months ago by Maz
Gorgeous blu ray restoration of a classic that still has punch.
One star dropped for the lack of English subtitles (I constantly had to rewind to hear what was said).