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Wednesday, October 8, 1997

Gang Related

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 1997 at 12:00 AM

Jim Belushi, what happened to your diet? Last time we checked in you were on a slimming regimen and they were giving you romantic leads, albeit in shitty B movies. But now that you're starting to chow down again, it's back to the not-so-beautiful loser roles of yore, all the same, all awful.

In Gang Related, Diamond Jim stars as Lt. Divinci, a New York cop dealing drugs on the side and then tampering with evidence to cover his ass. Along for the ride is his partner, Rodriguez (Tupac Shakur), not entirely cool with Divinci's style but in bad need of cash to pay off his gambling debts. Trouble arrives when they knock off a drug dealer who turns out to be an undercover DEA agent. They need to find a patsy and happen upon William (Dennis Quaid), a homeless bum given to alcoholic blackouts. He lives in the alley behind the apartment of Cynthia (the ravishing Lela Rochon), the hooker with a slightly tarnished conscience who gets it on with Divinci whenever he's flush with green. Unfortunately, William also has a secret identity, the long-lost son of a tycoon, and our boys are soon scrambling to keep themselves out of the big house.

Despite the idiotic plot, writer-director James Kouf offers a few moments of levity in the script, but Belushi, resplendent in threadbare Hawaiian shirts and track tout hat, is the millstone around his neck. His acting range consists of a few choice swear words repeated ad nauseam, his late brother's famous cocked brow and a shambling mess of a corpus that speaks of moral degeneracy and bad living. One can't venture into self-parody if one is already a joke.

But who really cares about Belushi? This is, after all, rap mumbler Tupac Shakur's swan song on the silver screen. One never wants to speak ill of the dead, but Mr. Shakur would have regretted his performance here, offering not much more than his trademark hangdog glare and some homestyling nonsense. To be fair, the shabby structure here suggests that Tupac checked out before all his scenes were complete, and some cut-and-paste work was necessary to try to salvage the film. Alas, nothing could save it, and one eagerly awaits the opportunity to pass it over in the video racks.

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