Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship MSNBC is Changing Its Tune and Rev Al Is Getting Bumped MSNBC is Changing Its Tune and Rev Al Is Getting Bumped Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? 15 Films That Confront Race Relations Head-on (Instead of Kevin Costner's 'Black or White') 15 Films That Confront Race Relations Head-on (Instead of Kevin Costner's 'Black or White') Donald Glover Weighs in on the Possibility of Donning the Spider-Man Costume for the Sony/Marvel Revamp Donald Glover Weighs in on the Possibility of Donning the Spider-Man Costume for the Sony/Marvel Revamp Wesley Snipes Heading to TV for NBC's 'Endgame' + Did You Know He Almost Played Lucious Lyon? Wesley Snipes Heading to TV for NBC's 'Endgame' + Did You Know He Almost Played Lucious Lyon? Ava DuVernay Won Ava DuVernay Won Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Now in Demand: Black Actors - Morris Chestnut Books Starring Role in Investigative Drama Pilot for Fox Now in Demand: Black Actors - Morris Chestnut Books Starring Role in Investigative Drama Pilot for Fox Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Nearly Sweeps 40th César Awards (French Equivalent of the Oscars). Wins 7 of 8 Nominations Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Nearly Sweeps 40th César Awards (French Equivalent of the Oscars). Wins 7 of 8 Nominations TV Casting News: Larenz Tate, Rockmond Dunbar, Dule Hill, Kobi Libii, Sahr Ngauja & Eka Darvill Book Roles TV Casting News: Larenz Tate, Rockmond Dunbar, Dule Hill, Kobi Libii, Sahr Ngauja & Eka Darvill Book Roles Jill Marie Jones Scores Female Lead Role in Starz Original Series Based on 'Evil Dead' Film Franchise Jill Marie Jones Scores Female Lead Role in Starz Original Series Based on 'Evil Dead' Film Franchise Mo'Nique's Decision to Not "Play the Industry Game" Gets Her Blacklisted. The Actress Speaks... Mo'Nique's Decision to Not "Play the Industry Game" Gets Her Blacklisted. The Actress Speaks... Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed... Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed...

Review: Reggie Bythewood's 'Gun Hill' Brings Back the Spirit of 'New York Undercover'

Photo of Jai Tiggett By Jai Tiggett | Shadow and Act July 1, 2014 at 6:33PM

'Gun Hill' is wholly entertaining and it will be great to see it go to series.
26
Larenz Tate in BET Original Movie 'Gun Hill'
Larenz Tate in BET Original Movie 'Gun Hill'

Those who were fans of the 1990s police drama "New York Undercover" will remember the series being just as popular for its sense of style and cultural influence as it was for its story lines. While wondering if Detectives Williams and Torres would solve their case each week, the equally urgent question was who the new love interest or musical guests would be. The series leads were not only clever detectives able to navigate the gritty streets of New York, but like all the best cop characters, they were also the kind of guys you wouldn't mind having a drink or watching the game with. This is the same flavor that writer-director Reggie "Rock" Bythewood brings to "Gun Hill," which he describes as a distant cousin to the series he wrote and produced until 1997. 

BET recently gave "Gun Hill" the "Being Mary" Jane treatment, with an original feature film presented at Urbanworld Film Festival, laying the groundwork for a possible TV series. The movie stars Larenz Tate as Bird, an ex-convict who returns to the Bronx and tries to escape his shady past by assuming the identity of his deceased twin brother Trane (also played by Tate), who just happens to be a cop working for the DEA. 

Larenz Tate in 'Gun Hill'
Larenz Tate in 'Gun Hill'

Usually the "good twin/evil twin" plot is tricky to pull off seamlessly, and here there's an uncomfortable opening exchange between the two estranged brothers, apparently to tell us who's who and give everyone's backstory. It's almost as if the film can live without these opening scenes, and perhaps did at one point, until someone supposed that maybe audiences "wouldn't get it." But we soon learn that this is all a set up to get to where Bythewood really shines, in delivering the twists and turns of the cop drama itself. The premise of Bird living as Trane under the threat of being discovered, and uncovering secrets about his brother's life along the way, makes for great suspense and sets up an intense moral dilemma to carry throughout the story. From there we follow Bird's new adventures as a cop, plotting drug busts and fighting off bad guys, with occasional narration giving his inner dialogue and connecting him back to his twin. 

It's easy to see why Larenz Tate was cast in this role, as he demonstrates equal parts street savvy, humor, and likability in the conflicted character of Bird. His scenes with Aisha Hinds, who steals the show as a badass drug kingpin, alone are worth the watch and beg the question of what deviltry the pair will get into next. Emayatzy Corinealdi also appears as Bird's ex, balancing the tone of the film with her trademark softness and vulnerability. 

Another highlight is the cultural commentary threaded throughout "Gun Hill," from naming its main characters after legends of jazz, to the film's take on why and how drugs make their way into black communities, to the 52 Blocks technique used in Tate's fight scenes, which evolved from the tradition of black prize fighting. 

Photography is straightforward with an intentional darkness adding to the tone throughout. The project apparently has been a long time coming, as we've covered it since production took place back in 2011. While it will be nice to see it give the audience a little more credit with less exposition and narration, "Gun Hill" is wholly entertaining and it will be great to see it go to series. With all the romantic comedies and reality programming vying for black audiences' attention, having a solid police drama like this on television will be a refreshing change. 

This article is related to: Larenz Tate, Reggie Bythewood, TV Reviews


Shadow & ActNewsletter