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Jacked Up

This spin on Bounce for the hip-hop set is utterly artless, and yet it separates itself from the pack of gang-themed urban street dramas with some endearing performances and a refreshingly moralistic rebuke of thugg life. Ron Reaco Lee stars as Dre, a good student gone astray who accidentally kills an innocent man during his reluctant gang initiation. Haunted by his transgress, Dre withdraws from his negative environment and seeks out the family of his victim, doing his best to repair and inspire their chaos-wrecked lives. Written and directed by Timothy Wayne Folsome,Jacked Up (also known simply as Jacked) rarely manages to rise above the quality of an After-School Special — but buried in a swarm of straight-to-video, rapper-starring, drugs-guns-and-hos-saturated rap videos passing for feature films, Jacked Up bears a peculiar innocence (while also featuring gratuitous nudity and violence to keep those less-emotionally open Gs from impatiently busting a cap in their 48" HD-ready plasma screens), perhaps as a direct result of its unstylish aesthetics. Engagingly played by Lee, Dre takes genuine joy in his new role as guardian angel, and even though the manner in which he assists the beleaguered Barnes family is always dramatically obvious, it's nonetheless touching. The acting all around is remarkably fine and full of subtle performances — except by Bizzy Bone (of Bone Thuggz N Harmony), whose flamboyantly weasley turn as ruthless gang leader Zach is annoying enough to turn the most die-hard thugg away from the streets. Also with T-Low and Tweet. Artisan's DVD features a decent anamorphic transfer (1.78:1) from grainy, low-budget stock, while audio comes in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Features include a commentary by director Folsome and producer Kevin Hightower, a photo gallery, and a trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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