COLORS (1988) w/ Sean Penn & Robert Duvall

Came across this recently and paid a couple of quid for it on DVD. An old gangster/hood/cop thriller from the late 80s, directed by Dennis Hopper (the mad bomber from SPEED).

COLORS, Robert Duvall, Sean Penn, Grand Bush, Rudy Ramos, 1988, (c)Orion Pictures
Robert Duvall, Sean Penn, Grand Bush, Rudy Ramos (Orion Pictures, 1988)

Set in LA pre-1992, before the riots, COLORS (American spelling) taps into the escalating violence between cops/gangsters and their weekly battles over turf. Told in a day-to-day-life kinda way, the story tracks the lives of 2 cops (Duvall/Penn) and their run-ins with local crips/bloods; as well as themselves/other authority figures and people living in the community.

COLORS is interesting, particularly for the developing relationship between the two central (cop) characters. Their contrasting personalities provoke arguments over each other’s methods of doing things; which in time leads to tensions developing between themselves, as well as the people they’re doing “business” with.

The bad guys are mostly seen to be black, on PCP most of the time and not all that clever; and some of the acting is suspect. Duvall and Penn’s characters are more believable, with strong performances accompanying; and despite the sympathy swaying towards Duvall’s character, it’s clear that the main antagonist the filmmakers are keen to flesh out here is the LAPD as a whole (the biggest gang of them all).

COLORS is, generally, a pretty solid affair, delving into issues of class, racism and authority with a gritty/realistic approach in mind. Throwing in communal debates and the (occasional) chase scene, the film’s always interesting, never preachy; an early TRAINING DAY, sorta, that will most likely appeal to fans of BOYZ N THE HOOD and MENACE TO SOCIETY.

The soundtrack also features Ice-T on the title track; as well as Herbie Hancock.



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