The words “starring Costas Mandylor” are really never good news. But when, in the very first scene of a movie starring Costas Mandylor, Ice-T plays a beat cop who fondles a passed out, plague infected woman not wearing a bra, the never good news just got a whole lot better.
Quick Plot: In a wonderful futuristic 2010 (the kind of world where cars blow up when they touch other things and gang leaders named Lucifer sport feathery shoulder pads and Ray Bans), a plague is raging throughout the nation and Caucasian gangs are seizing the streets.
Meanwhile, a family who clearly put a lot of thought into how to deliver every one...of their lines decides to make a move from California to Phoenix in order to save the world. Pops is a scientist of some sort, but before you can say ‘are we there yet,‘ Lucifer crashes the road trip in order to kidnap the man who can maybe cure the whatever disease is kind of devastating the world. Sure.
Moving on, a pair of kickboxing brothers head the same direction, stopping to fight, in glorious occasional slo-mo, a middle aged mob that includes a dude that absolutely must be Gallagher’s older, tubbier beret wearing brother. This five minute battle proceeds with true wonderment, capped by a toast-worthy “Noooooooooo!” that sealed the deal marking Gangland as one of the great films of our time.
Surviving brother Derek (played by a Step By Step alumn, hollah that) is brought to a gang-run jail where he meets the mumbling beefcake some folks like to call Costas Mandylor, but the movie names Jared. Jared is great because he is played by Costas Mandylor, a man whose arms don’t seem to ever bend all the way due to overwhelming muscle mass in his upper body. That’s okay, because despite his limited thespian skills, Costas Mandylor does give us not one, but TWO of his own spins on the “Noooooooo!” scream before the film hits the 36 minute mark.
Have you married this movie yet? Because I have. I did it when we met Lucifer’s main henchman, a pontytailed dude in leather pants and an absent shirt. He’s basically Street Fighter’s Vega without the mask. He’s basically the most awesome thing you’ve ever seen in your life.
No I’m wrong! He can’t be the best thing, because Lucifer is working on some sort of Rocky Horror Rocky Frankenstein creation that is essentially a shirtless, even TIGHTER leather pants wearing muscleman sporting the same clear contacts as Class of 1999’s Stacey Keach. This guy defies words.
At some point, the fellas pick up a tough blond who has vowed vengeance on Lucifer for killing her sister. She may lack brute strength, but she totally makes up for it in speed and agi-agil...agility. Also, acting ability. That’s mean, maybe just vocal warmups.
Oh, and for some reason, all the beefy bad guys sound like werewolves. It's like the best parts of Turkey Shoot, with the added bonus of Lorenzo Llamas' ex-wife.
There’s a sort of Escape From New York/Zombie Death House narrative going on but really, a complicated plot is the last reason you’ll be watching Gangland. This is modern trash at its finest and I adored every moment of it.
High Points/Low Points
Like most movies of Gangland’s caliber, it’s almost impossible to actually cite what’s right or wrong with Gangland. The easy answer would be everything--or at least, the acting, script, fact that almost every scene involves at least one character stumbling over his or her lines, glorious California sunniness blazing throughout every frame despite the fact that the world is mired in martial law--you get the point. But these are the same things that make this movie such a blast to watch. So low points? Um. Look over there!
Perhaps this isn’t the best place to bring this up, but why does Ice-T spell his name as such? The drink is tea that is iced, hence, Iced Tea. Now I understand a badass rapper (who would later make a living out of playing police officers, irony be damned) not wanting to take the same name that graces the back of every Applebees menu, but it just bothers me
When engaged in hand-to-hand combat with vicious thugs, it’s your duty as a representative of the law enforcement to not even think of using your department issued night stick or gun
In a dystopian near-past, local newscasters will only own one shirt
You will always be a p-pea--peasant if you don’t take what you want
One would assume skin-tight leather pants are a poor choice when planning on engaging in street battles with talented martial artists. One would be so very, very very, very wrong
When firing a gun at the only people left in the world who may be able to kill you, it is vital to aim at their feet
Everything and anything is highly flammable. I mean EVERYTHING
Optional Drinking Game
Take a shot at every “Nooooooooo” moment
Drink whenever a character uses the word ‘peasant’
Drink every time an actor trips over a line
Drink every time an actor trips over the word 'peasant'
Sip throughout the full duration of any dream sequence
Sip throughout the full duration of any dream sequence
Eat a pretzel whenever a bad guy growls (I don’t want you to get sick)
Drink any time someone hints at the possibility of a trip to Phoenix
Take a shot every time you spot a vicious post-apocalyptic thug with a slight weight problem
Am I really expected to choose between just this sample of the following:
“Now you’re going to know what it feels like to DIE!”
“Bless the gun that kills you.”
“It must’ve taken a lot of balls to kill a little girl/It will take a lot less balls to kill you!”
Gangland is an awful film, one that requires immediate viewing by the entire universe if we ever hope to achieve world peace. Those who have seen 1986’s classic The Stabilizer might have a tickling inkling of what I mean. From Coolio and Ice-T’s opening cameos to Costas “I Can’t Put My Arms Down” Mandylor’s snarls, this is simply a gem of awfulness that will make your life better. Thank you, director Art Comacho. You have made Earth a place worth loving.