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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Turn It Up
Turn It Up
New Line
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted February 3, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

In a trend that goes all the way back to Elvis, and beyond, yet another artist hovers within the increasingly blurry line between the music and film industries. Pras of the Fugees is joined by Ja Rule in Turn It Up (2000, 87 minutes), which is every bit as cannibalistic as his 1998 hit single "Ghetto Supastar" -- also the working title of this flick. It's a constant stream of cinema cliches from oh-so familiar camera shots of New York (crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, passing through Times Square), to the cockeyed, two-fisted gunplay and the requisite "The Man is keeping me down" subtext. But, hey, what's NEW about any of this? Nothing. Sure one script steals from another, one director apes another it's just as pervasive and accepted as sampling has become in the urban music scene. Still, Pras and first-time director Robert Adetuyi are able to keep the story moving, without becoming overly exploitative of hip-hop culture, and while it has it's fair share of groans, the flick manages to stand on its own with a fair amount of style.

The movie: Diamond (Pras) is a promising young rapper who pays for his studio time by running drugs with his best friend Gage (Ja Rule). Actually, "D" is a better gangster than a musician, as he proves when he sniffs out an ambush saving the lives of both he and Gage. Crime lord Mr. B (Jason Statham) recognizes D's talent and attempts to sway him further into the dark side, but the lure of possible fame and fortune as a hip-hop star is far more seductive. Diamond also has some typical problems at home: a fussy girlfriend who winds up pregnant, an ailing mother who won't accept her son's ill-gotten loot and an absent father who suddenly appears after 12 years. His diminutive buddy Gage suffers from acute short-man syndrome and constantly lands D in nasty situations, the worst of which, when he steals $100,000 to finance D's album. It begins a tangled web that gets them both in trouble with Mr. B and an oily record exec who's subtly named Mr. White (John Ralston). It all leads to a predictably devastating conclusion, followed by a disappointingly laughable "One year later" epilogue. Statham delivers a first-rate performance as the cooly intense crime boss and CineSchlockers will remember him from hipster-director-of-the-moment Guy Richie's films. Look for the return of Pras in Higher Ed, a college comedy costarring Tracy Morgan of "Saturday Night Live."

Notables: No breasts. 19 corpses. One catfish closeup. Pistol whipping. Multiple two-fisted gun battles. Meat-slicer interrogation.

Quotables: Diamond doesn't want his girlfriend to have his cell phone number, "Why do you think the first thing they do to a baby when it comes out of the womb is cut the cord? You know why? Because a man has to be free! He's got to roam the earth. I mean, the way I figure it, if I give you the number --- BANG! -- right back in the womb." Gage is annoyed when Diamond is hesitant to accept his financial gift, "When Jesus healed the blind man, did the blind man [email protected]#%ing ask Jesus how he did it?!"

Time codes: Fish market fire fight (10:20). Pras, er, Diamond hits the stage backed by DJ Skribble (46:45). Mr. B prepares to serve some freshly-cut beef (54:20).

Audio/Video: Solid widescreen (1.85:1) and fullframe prints exhibit only the faintest bit of pixelation during some of the darker scenes. Both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks thump with the music as they should.

Extras: Static menus without audio. Cast bios. No trailer.

Final thought: Pras is far from a dynamic leading man, with Diamond coming off as the hip-hop answer to Mr. Spock. The flick is likely more appealing to Fugees fans, than the merely curious. Recommended.

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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