We Die Young (2019)

Posted in Reviews by - November 08, 2019
We Die Young (2019)

A 14-year-old boy, Lucas (Elijah Rodriguez), acts as a drug runner for the head honcho of a Hispanic drug cartel operating out of Washington D.C. – a mere 20-minute ride from the greatest seat of power in the land, but seemingly oblivious to the horrors going on in its own backyard. Gang life is robbing kids of their innocence, so when his younger brother is admitted into baseball camp, Lucas does everything he can to get the boy out of trouble. Slightly tangential to this is the character of Daniel (Van Damme), a mute war veteran with PTSD who is one of Lucas’ drug addicted customers, who winds up protecting the kids in their plight to escape the gang. Van Damme isn’t required to do too much – there are no fight scenes and he doesn’t even need to speak – but he is an optimistic presence in quite a scathing, intense urban drama. The film features a slightly uncomfortable generalising of the wider Hispanic community, who are mostly shown to either be acting as part of or formerly involved in gang culture, and at times actually endorsing criminal behaviour, with Van Damme’s role positioned as something of a ‘white saviour’. That is one reading of the film, but it is still quite an effective portrayal of societal breakdown, wonderfully shot by writer and director Lior Geller with a great use of long, handheld sequences adding to its gritty realism.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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