Posted September 30, 2018 by Chris Hick in Film Reviews

Trespass (1992) Blu-ray Review

Trespass (1992) was released at a time when gangsta rap had gone mainstream and was popular. It was also released the same year as the LA riots following the filming and publicity surrounding the beating of a black man, Rodney King by the LAPD. The previous year, Ice Cube, from hardcore rap group N.W.A. had starred in black gangster film, Boyz in the Hood while fellow rapper and co-star Ice-T had starred in New Jack City (also 1991). That such films were being made places Trespass in the zeigeist, perhaps politically the first time since the Black Panthers that African Americans had been able to politically and culturally flex their muscles. Yet, the script by Bob Gale had originally been written in 1977 and was then called ‘Looters’ (on an extra on the disc Grant says that the title was changed as it would have been inappropriate to call it ‘Looters’ after the LA riots). Little really changed in the script since first written 15 years earlier.

We are introduced to two of the main characters early on in the film. Two Arkansas firemen, Vince (Bill Paxton) and Don (William Sadler) enter a burning building and come across a man who refuses to leave and dies in the fire. Before he does, he hands them a map as to where they can locate some hidden gold stolen from a church and stashed some 50 years ago. Planning on going to the abandoned warehouse and take the gold in one day seems like the easiest job in the world. They take the 6 hour journey to East St. Louis (moved from Brooklyn as in the original script but was actually shot in Atlanta and Memphis). As well as discovering a homeless man, Bradlee (Art Evans), they had also not figured on a black gang from the Projects bumping off a rival. The two firemen,  are caught witnessing the killing and hold out in the warehouse with a hostage in the brother of the gang leader King James (Ice-T).

Re-released by 101 Films on their Black Label, the 5th title in the series, the majority of the film is shot in the warehouse(s) with plenty of shoot ’em ups and action. It was directed by Walter Hill, a director familiar with action films who had previously directed the cult gangland classic The Warriors (1977). Hill’s films are largely macho and it would be fair to say display a somewhat bombastic macho action when thinking of such actions films of his as The Warriors, 48 Hours (1982) and Streets of Fire (1984) rather than his more subtle and intelligent films such as Southern Comfort (1981). As such the film feels exaggerated and at times ham fisted, but for fans of action films it is much loved. Appropriately there is some good rap music by Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Sir Mix-A-Lot and the two black stars in the film.

Extras on the disc, as well as a commentary by Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger and another by John McIver and Angus Batey, there are interviews with writer Gale, producer Neil Canton and co-star Sadler. William Sadler is one of the lesser known actors in the film having mostly done TV work, but proves his metal in this Hill film as the less moral character of the two white guys.

Chris Hick

Chris Hick