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Chop Shop (2007)

Alejandro Polanco , Ahmad Razvi , Ramin Bahrani  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alejandro Polanco, Ahmad Razvi, Isamar Gonzales
  • Directors: Ramin Bahrani
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: KOCH Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: July 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00175GAI8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,435 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chop Shop" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In a bustling wasteland of stolen cars, mechanics and street hustlers, Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), a tough and ambitious street orphan, and his older sister, Isamar (Isamar Gonzales), must rely on each other to survive. Living and working in the Iron Triangle, a sprawling junkyard in Queens, New York, the two find their dreams threatened by the hard truths of life, only to find hope and salvation in one another.

DVD Extras:
Audio commentary with director Ramin Bahrani, director of photography Michael Simmonds and actor Alejandro Polanco
Rehearsal footage, Original Theatrical Trailer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A searing, honest portrait of inner city life December 3, 2008
As with his previous film, "Man Push Cart," director Ramin Bahrani paints a bracingly honest portrait of immigrant life on the economic edges of New York City. In "Chop Shop" we meet two orphaned children, energetic, enterprising Alejandro, and his older sister Isi, who he takes care of more than she takes care of him. At the start of the film, Ale is out on the streets, working any angles he can think of to find food or small change. When an opportunity for work (and a place to stay) arises, he seizes it instantly, and swiftly settles into a position as an assistant in a low-rent auto garage in New York's "Iron Triangle", where dozens of so-called "chop shops" compete for business with an endless stream of beat-up old cars. Alejandro winds up in one of the more honest shops, living in a cramped space above the garage floor, learning the tools of the trade and using his considerable charisma and self-confidence to steer potential customers into the front door.

"Chop Shop" shares several themes with Bahrani's earlier masterpiece, "Man Push Cart," but differs from that film in that no back story is presented to explain why or how these kids would up homeless -- they just are, and they simply deal with the situation as best they can. Like "Man Push Cart," the movie is full of tension and dread, but often defies viewer expectations, which are generally shaped by decades of cliched storytelling. Bahrani's films, however, are anything but cliched -- his cinema verite style creates an earthy, palpable reality, one that draws you in completely and rivets your attention. The dramas he presents are both so humble and so dire that they are utterly compelling, and make this a very fine film.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredible performance... July 6, 2008
Ramin Bahrani succeeds again with another amazing film. Between this and Man Push Cart, I believe he has cornered the genre of film making that feels like a documentary, but is fiction - yet better than what could be recorded as such.

The story is set near the auto slums of the Bronx, modern day. Two young siblings journey together in finding a way to make a living there. The boy, played INCREDIBLY by Alejandro Polanco works at one of the mechanic's shops on the strip, while his sister earns income in a much less glorious way. The film is simply enough, their story over a few days, there is no beginning or end perce. I was so impressed with AP's performance. Even in watching the rehearsal extras on the DVD, he appears to have the makings of a promising actor. This is his only film but I hope he continues.

This is not a film to watch if you are looking for something light with child actors, this is quite the opposite. I have never seen such adult themes and scenes in a film with actors this age. Judging once again by the amount of screens it played and no apparent advertising budget, another great film will get overlooked.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important movie. August 13, 2008
The film's protagonist, Alejandro, a preteen orphan, lives and works in a chop shop, an auto parts dealer that specializes in breaking down whole cars into parts; cars that, usually, are stolen.

The shop is owned by Rob, an actual chop shop owner, who generously provides Ale with shelter and money but exploits him for his hard, cheap labor. This is the landscape of Bahrani's film: a vicious, ugly stasis between abject poverty and comfortable living, a place where life is defined by the fruits of a day's labor--a place devoid of hope and dreams. Yet, Ale dares to dream.

Two words sum up this movie for me: sincere and touching.

At the heart of "Chop Shop" is the relationship between Alejandro and his slightly older sister, Isamar. We see them struggle through the trials of life, amid a wasteland section of Queens, New York, with each hardship enforcing a necessity to persevere, the constant struggle becoming their reason to exist. The specifics don't even matter--this is a film about people and life, the harsh background being merely that: a habitat for humans to act and react. There is not much else to provoke the inexplicably orphaned children, as the landscape and all prospects for the youths are bleak. Yet, they possess love and an undying will, a hope, to succeed, a richness paradoxically provided them by poverty. And for this they are willing to suffer themselves. They live for the day, for what will come of their suffering, with hopes of something else a seemingly distant yet powerful reason to live in the now. To make things happen.

So, at the film's end, there is no sadness. No anti-climax. And, also, no sentimental, Hollywood-ending to undermine all that's come before.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Writer/director Ramin Bahrani turns his attention to Willets Point, or the "Iron Triangle" area, on the outskirts of Queens in "Chop Shop", a cinema verite-style drama of youthful hope and frustration in this industrial desert. Ale (Alejandro Polanco) is an orphaned but industrious pubescent Latino boy who makes a living helping out at an auto body shop, whose owner Rob (Rob Sowulski) lets him live in the room above the shop. Determined to accumulate some savings, he earns extra cash as a day laborer and peddling odds and ends. When his older sister Isamar (Isamar Gonzales) returns to the neighborhood, Ale proudly shows off his little apartment and tries everything he can think of to make her happy and hopeful.

"Chop Shop" was cast with non-professional actors who are certainly convincing in their roles, though I didn't find them natural in every scene. This is a loose narrative, and the miles of concrete, junk, and auto shops a stone's throw from Shea Stadium is a strong character in itself. I don't think that anyone actually lives in Willet's Point, and Ale and Isamar seem to be the only people who do in the movie. "Chop Shop" is an ambiguous sort of coming of age story, a slice of life of two capable young people on their own and without any means of support beyond their own hard work. Though Ale's plight is gut-wrenching at times, the optimism and dreams of this 12-year-old suffuse the film with hopefulness.

The DVD (Koch Lorber 2008): Bonus features include a theatrical trailer (3 min), 8 segments of rehearsals, training, and actors interacting, and a feature commentary by writer/director Ramin Bahrani, cinematographer Michael Simmonds, and actor Alejandro Polanco. The commentary is constant and eclectic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars On the cusp
Those coming here from Rahmi's 'Man Push Cart' will be sitting again through a case study of how America is not all its cracked up to be. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Dust
5.0 out of 5 stars I watched this movie several times and can't wait for my copy to...
This is a good movie. Its sad in the fact that they are two kids fending for themselves and being taken advantage of by adults but its a good film. I recommend it!
Published 19 months ago by Patrice Farmer
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
this movie was so nice i actually love he very smart for his age even though he not in school and i love how he csn take vey good care of him and his older sister i like how they... Read more
Published 19 months ago by tiffany john
5.0 out of 5 stars Living by your wits
Before I purchased this movie, I used to rent it at my local library on a bi-weekly basis until someone stole it(I guess someone liked it more than me). Read more
Published on December 17, 2011 by Thelma Talbert
4.0 out of 5 stars Siblings in Gritty New York
Chop Shop is a long way from Times Square, but, though well hidden from the New York of tourism and most films, it is as real or more so than those more camera-ready locations. Read more
Published on June 18, 2011 by James Carragher
4.0 out of 5 stars What chop shop?
I found myself wondering about the title until 3/4s of the way through the movie.

There are two orphans that do what they have to do to survive.
I can relate. Read more
Published on May 14, 2011 by maniac
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie Chop Shop
Chop Shop was a great film and I thought it was great how is show the love that a younger brother has for his older sister. Read more
Published on December 7, 2010 by 313 man
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty look at an NYC orphan
I love gritty drama films. Especially those that include a coming of age story. This poignant film by director Ramin Bahrani and writer Bahareh Azimi showcases the struggle of a... Read more
Published on November 17, 2010 by Patrick Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding indie drama
Chop Shop is an incredibly well done film that manages to be vivid, gritty, and moving all at once as it paints a portrait of two young people, a young Latino lad named Ale and his... Read more
Published on March 13, 2010 by Matthew G. Sherwin
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated & Appealing Mostly to Fans of Bahrani
While I can respect that some people loved this movie, I considered it average at best. Being a Spanish speaker, I appreciate movies (especially gritty ones) that involve Latin... Read more
Published on January 28, 2010 by Compay
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