Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Last week I watched the flick ‘Death Toll’ and believe me when I tell you that it is some kind of terrible. Yesterday I watched today’s movie of interest ‘Lords of the Street’, which while not that ‘good’ it is way, way, way better than ‘Death Toll’. The reason I mention both movies is because they both take place in the New Orleans post Katrina area, I recognize a lot of the actors from both movies in smaller roles, they both come from the same production company and DMX is in both movies in a similar vein. It’s almost as if the director of ‘Death Toll’, a young man who calls himself Phenomena, and the director of Jump Out Boys who goes by the moniker Mr. K had a competition to see who could make the best movie with the same people, access to DMX – though he can’t in anyway shape or form communicate with any of the main members of your cast. Well Mr. K. wins that competition in a landslide because while I can’t really classify ‘Lords of the Street’ as a good movie, it still had entertainment value, which can’t be said about ‘Death Toll’.

Kris Kristofferson and Ameer Baraka are New Orleans detectives Ray and Travis who are a salt and pepper, May – December, married – single, country – hip hop, or any other contrast you can think of, who kick ass and solve crimes. While on a high speed chase, and might I tell you that this flick has some of the worst green screening I’ve ever seen, we get to see the pair communicate in their special way as the reckless Travis drives wildly through traffic extolling the joy of hip hop while Ray speaks of the magic of Willie Nelson. Regardless, they stop this dude who has a bomb strapped to his chest which goes blooey, leaving our detectives wondering why.

Next we meet imprisoned super Mexican drug Lord Santiago (Armando Leduc) who is heading to the doctors office with a bunch of his inmate friends under some of the most questionable security measures ever which results in a big shootout and the drug lord making a break for it in a big old military style helicopter. Seems Santiago is looking for fifteen million dollars that went missing when he got clipped by Travis

some years ago, with the money being entrusted to his girl Maria (Ciera Payton). Trouble is Santiago used to whip on girlfriend which you probably shouldn’t do when you want someone to keep an eye on fifteen million dollars for you and now Maria is on the run. Travis however is some kind of super detective and tracks down the caramel colored cutie to protect her, and watch the sparks of love fly. So the stage has been set as we have a tough cop ‘who doesn’t play by the rules’, and old cop who is nearing retirement - which these old cops in movies rarely reach - a beautiful woman in a lot of trouble and ruthless drug dealer trying to make a getaway. Let the bullets fly and see where they land.

Of course we haven’t mentioned DMX and this mainly because he’s a detached player in all of this and will not cross the paths with any of our main players though I gotta hand it to Mr. K as he did a MUCH better job integrating a detached DMX into his movie than Phenomena did integrating that same character in his movie. What exactly his purpose is we won’t say because we don’t want to give anything away.

So ‘Lords of the Street’ is a bit on the cheesy side, has some really, really bad special effects, big huge chunks of narrative don’t make a hell of a lot sense and some of the dialog between Kristofferson and Baraka is a bit strained and forced. Now that being said this doesn’t mean I didn’t like the movie because it did have some good things going for it. For one thing ‘Lords of the Street’ is never boring as Mr. K keeps his movie flowing at a decent pace with plenty of shoot outs, car chases, explosions and even tosses in a castration scene. Ameer Baraka makes for a pretty good leading man and isn’t a bad actor at all, Kris Kristofferson is old as hell, the movie had some pretty good bad guys in it and Ciera Payton is in it. We first saw Ms. Payton in the Seagal flick ‘Flight of Fury’ and observed then that she sure might not be the best actress around but she sure is pretty, but hell she can always learn how to act. Well she’s learning how to act and she is still pretty.

I seriously don’t know if there’s any relation between ‘Death Toll’ and ‘Lords of the Street’ outside of the production company, but I do hear that New Orleans is remaking itself as Hollywood South so maybe that’s why there are some similarities in cast and setting. Regardless, if you had to choose between the two films the choice is an easy one as ‘Lords of the Street’, despite its flaws does manage to entertain which we can’t even begin to say about ‘Death Toll’.

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