Thursday, January 27, 2022

Jorge Luke kills Pandilleros!

*Original review posted on 11/5/2011*
*Revised on 1/27/2022*

Pandilleros Asesinos is about a man named Jorge (Jorge Luke) who lives a simple life in Mexico City alongside his mother (Ana Luisa Peluffo) and young sister. One day, a vicious street gang harass Jorge’s sister and luckily he manages to chase them away from her, but later on the gang manages to kidnap Jorge's sister and take her to their hangout spot where they brutally rape her and ultimately kill her. Jorge— angry and knowing who the murderers are because of a clue left near his sister’s body— goes to a motorcycle shop, buys an all black biker outfit (helmet & boots sold separately), steals his mother’s gun and rides around on his motorcycle late at night looking for the gang that killed his sister. When he finds some of the gang members— they’re all tortured brutally & with no mercy given. Nobody will stop Jorge from getting his revenge!

Pandilleros Asesinos was directed by Arturo Velazco who is very familiar with street gangs since he directed the cult epic La Banda De Los Panchitos. Pandilleros Asesinos however is nothing like Panchitos since that movie felt like a fictional documentary/drama whereas Pandilleros Asssinos is just a full-on action/revenge title meant for the North American rental market. The movie was released by Mex-American Video Corp with a very appealing box cover art and pretty much what’s on the cover art is in the actual movie. Surprisingly. Well, minus the exploding car. 

Pandilleros Asesinos has decent action scenes and a few scenes of brutality such as the rape scene and a scene where one of the gang members is castrated. It’s an off-camera scene, but the emotions on the actors felt quite intense. Jorge Luke is of course the star of the movie and he never disappoints since he plays his vengeful character so well & believable. At times it is really cheesy, but it’s the cool kind of cheesy to be expected from the 1990’s. It’s also worth noting that Jorge Luke’s character is supposed to be a man in his late 20’s or early 30’s, but it’s obvious Luke is older than that. 48 years old to be exact. And this being a movie about street gangs— we are treated to some really cool scenes of actual street gangs hanging out and one scene that is so memorable takes place during a concert at some cheap bar. The unknown band is playing a catchy song called “Mi Pequeña Lulu” all while the vicious street gang are hanging out there enjoying themselves just right before the cops chase them out. Everyone inside the bar is dressed in their best punk & rock attire. I love it.

I really can’t say Pandilleros Asesinos had bad aspects because I didn’t see any at all, but I did however notice the movie felt cheap at times and mostly with its unusual stock music selections. They are songs that sounded too old & out of context. It’s obvious this music was bought for cheap or even provided for free. Then there’s the most random scene ever with an appearance by comedic actor Cesar Bono. Cesar plays a motorcycle salesmen and not once does he ever get silly since it’s a “serious” role, but it’s just completely random. My take is that it was just an excuse to have another big name in the movie. This particular scene just drags on as well since it’s just Luke in the bike dealership buying an outfit and Cesar showing him the choices and then they go as far as showing a sales lady writing him up a receipt. It’s like why is this all necessary to show? Weird. 

Pandilleros Asesinos is a fun little watch. I never once got bored, but again I was baffled by its stock music selections and random as hell Cesar Bono scene. Other than that though, I enjoy this little action/revenge flick with Jorge Luke hunting down street gangs one by one. Pandilleros Asesinos was available on DVD and was so easy to acquire back in 2011, but now a days it’s just hard to come by. Same with the Mex-American VHS of course. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Revenge, Revenge.

We all have our bad days, but for this one guy named Julio (Manuel "Flaco" Ibañez)— every day is a bad day. After spending 10 years in prison for a fatal car accident he didn’t even cause, Julio is back home to his mother, his brother Luis (Servando Manzetti) and 2 sisters Maria & Lola. So much has changed in Julio’s hometown since he’s been a way— poverty has stricken everyone in town & street gangs are running amok. Julio’s sisters Maria & Lola have been invited to a cave hangout where a guy called “Pantera” (Eleazar Garcia Jr) and his giant gang spend their nights drinking & getting high. Both sisters are then drugged up & assaulted and Lola ends up dead. Maria has become mentally impaired from drugs and so badly that she ends up killing one of Pantera’s guys when he tries to rape her at home. She bites his neck very hard and she is then stabbed to death. Julio has now lost his 2 sisters, his mother has also died due to the stress of everything going on and their family restaurant is roughed up by Pantera’s gang. Julio & his brother Luis are fed up by the gangs destroying their town & ruining their lives and thus decide to kill all the gang members one by one at night. And they’re gonna go hard on it too! No mercy!

Venganza En El Barrio is an interesting obscurity because as corny & cheap as it looks— the movie tries to remain serious as well. The subject matter here is clear and it is that drug abuse & gangs are just no good at all. It all causes harm to one person and it affects others all around them as well. It sucks, but it’s the reality. But other than its seriousness— the movie gives us a much appealing look at street gangs and particularly from that era. We’re treated to roughed up/torn leather & denim attire, a gang leader who gives no fucks & played by the villainous Eleazar Garcia Jr and the gang hangs out at an unusual but cool-looking cave where anything goes and this includes rock bands Nopalica & Banda Bostik playing live inside there. Venganza En El Barrio of course has violent scenes and not too shabby ones either. I’m particularly fascinated by the scene with Maria biting her rapist’s neck because it just comes off so sudden & gruesome. The rest of the violence consists of stabbings & beatings all around. Satisfying ones, too.

Venganza En El Barrio was directed by Antonio Lopez Sanchez and his name may not be well-known to Mexican cinema— but he does however have an interesting & fairly known filmography with titles such as Las Zorras, El Chacal, La Ley Del Barrio, La Pandilla Sin Rostro and La Rata. Antonio seems to have had a natch for street life & gangs since all his movies are about those particular subjects. I could only keep pondering why he made only movies about that kind of stuff and who was he exactly.. 

I’m not gonna hype up Venganza En El Barrio as yet another wild street gang flick, but I for sure will recommend it for fans of sleazy melodramas of street life in Mexico. And if you’re familiar with Antonio Lopez Sanchez’s other movies and enjoy them— then for sure you must see Venganza En El Barrio because it is a solid title as the others are.