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The American and Jamaican underworld opened up
on April 19, 2010
Shottas (2002) is a movie that unfolds in the American and Jamaican
underworld involving a kingpin with armed associates, clique,
entourage and million dollar lifestyle. This is intended for a
middle-of-the-road, general audience with mass appeal, featuring
Some will be taken aback from the frequency of Jamaican slang, such
as "bloodclot", or a reference to Day-O (Banana Boat song) or the
shot caller (shotta.) There's also the matter of the pronunciation
by the locals, incomprehensible, suggesting a style derived from
Surprisingly, the release is not 16 x 9, which is unfortunate, as
many angles, the editing, the flow of the script and of the story
if often glossy, well chosen, filmed and delightful.
There is nothing lost in the soundtrack, from an eclectic,
balanced, diversified and eager for risk series of numbers.
The story is food for thought, ranging from the characters - all
miscreants and juvenile delinquents that are trigger happy - such
that the special F/X dept uses up dozens of blood packs over the
course of 90 mins, to weighing the likelihood that a kingpin can
make $7 mil merely from shakedowns of other gangs and legit
At not time is there any retaliation law enforcement. There is no
tension, either, among the gangsters, about the legitimacy of their
conduct, operations, rivalry, showing an euphoria from beginning to
end, ranging from scenes at clubs to outdoor festivities and indoor
scenes. A non-stop impunity for all conduct is the case, public and
private, in terms of rubouts, gunplay, car jackings, and
Viewers are made to see a number of "toys" used by the
protagonists, ranging from a power yacht, a Lamborghini, Mercedes
Benz, Cadillac Escalade, Porsche, Rolex, etc.
The director's boldness is clear, in exposing the underlying
violence affecting much of Jamaica, and in expatriate communities
who know of no other livelihood than crime, firing pistols and
shotguns. The ugliness and senseless killing, is in plain sight
and the darkness is juxtaposed tightly with hedonistic moments.
The ghetto, as shown, comprises people who are one-dimensional,
emotionally shallow, closed to cultural sources that normally,
permeate people's lives, ( TV, sports, religion, politics, book
authors.) The charactes seem to never have heard of those things,
or been influenced by any of them. The exception is when a
politician, (mingling with gangs perhaps to gain an upper hand on
rivals), turns against his underworld henchmen when they go rogue
and become front page news.
At the end, many will wonder how is it the characters are still
walking the streets, and not in an asylum.
The oversimplification of crime may also be a turn off, not least
of which because some of the biggest and most profitable
masterminds never show themselves, or commit violence personally,
Finally, Ky-Mani Marley's acting is promising, as Biggs.