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Dead Presidents 1995

R CC

A Vietnam veteran returns home from the war only to find himself drawn into a life of crime. With the aid of his fellow vets, he plans the ultimate heist.

Starring:
Larenz Tate, Keith David
Runtime:
1 hour, 59 minutes

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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Is Larenz Tate one of the most slept on, talented young black actors in Hollywood today? I have to say YES!! He brings a deep intensity to just about any role he plays. "Dead Presidents" is just more proof of that and this film probably shows the best performance of Tate's career.

In this film, he's Anthony, an idealistic young high school graduate from the Bronx who enlists in the Marine Corps in the late 1960s and is shipped off to serve in Vietnam. Along with a couple of his high school buddies, he witnesses horrific violence and death there like he's never seen, comes back home after his tour of duty ends and finds it hard to adjust to civilian life. He finds that after serving his country, his country has very little to offer him in return. This was a dilemma faced by many young men coming home from Vietnam, and one that was even harder on black men like Anthony. He has no job, no money, and begins looking for other ways to support himself. Eventually he finds a job, but it is barely enough to pay the bills. He also has to deal with jealous guys from the neighborhood who envy him for various reasons.

Having a young daughter to support and a shady pregnant girlfriend who was his high school sweetheart (Rose Jackson Moye), the financial pressures begin to mount in Anthony's life. As things begin to crumble around him, he then begins to have thoughts of resorting to breaking the law in order to try set things right in his life, and hatches a plan to pull off this high-stakes heist. He enlists his willing friends, who are also looking to get rich quick, in his plot. However, the reprecussions of this plot are deadly.
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Format: DVD
This film was really good. By the end of the movie, I did not condone what was done, but I understood. How many of us know people who came back after fighting for their country, and they are working jobs that suck, and living a tough life. That's pretty much the message I got from the film. I watch this movie about once a month, I like it that much. Chris Tucker had a role in this film that makes you stand up and take notice. I would love to see him in more dramas in the future. He could do the roles.
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Format: DVD
I rented this movie because it was recommended to me, and I love the Hughes Brothers. I saw it in October of 2001, and I wanted to see a little action that might takemy mind off the news lately (boy, did I get a wrong number there) and be at least mildly entertained.
SPOILERS AHEAD, WARNING!
Yeah, they definitely mis-marketed this-- it is not a 'heist' movie, or a simple 'action' movie. There is a heist, but only the last half hour of the film (and it's a 2 hour film) is spent on it. It starts out in the late 60's-- I was thinking please God, let this not just be a short prologue and have the whole movie take place in the 60's and 70's, and I got my wish. Tate's character hangs out with his friends, wants to have fun and get laid, and go to Vietnam and 'make a difference' since a local poolhall owner and his father are both vets, he looks up to them. The first 1/3 or so takes place in 1969, shows what a dangerous but fun lifestyle (not to mention, great music and great wardrobe) Tate's character is living it up with his friends (including Chris Tucker, who has more depth than I thought; too bad he's now typecast as the Streetwise Guy who fast-talks his way out of trouble). By the first 15 minutes, I was glad the movie was mis-marketed, because I was enjoying the kind of coming-of-age story and characters. The next 45 minutes or so--there's a great transition talked about in the other reviews, switching from Tate's character (sorry, blanked on the name!) sprinting over fences and backyards after he almost gets caught with his pants down, to him literally dodging bullets in Nam-- are spent showing his tour of duty in Vietnam.
Things get ugly there, I mean really gory and disturbing- BIG switch in tone.
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Format: VHS Tape
What do you do when your debut film is one of the top 100 movies of all time? This was the predicament the Hughes brothers faced after releasing 1993's stunning _Menace II Society_. My guess is they wanted to get away from what they were doing while still preserving the Highes style that made _Menace_ such a fantastic film, so they decided to do a flick about Black Americans' involvement in Vietnam, and its fallout. (Does anyone remember if this was based on a true story? I seem to recall hearing that...)

More than anything, Dead Presidents suffered from awful marketing. Everyone flocked to the film expecting the whole thing to be about a bank heist, and instead they were treated to the story of Anthony Curtis (Larenz Tate, the actor who made O-Dog so memorable in _Menace_) and two of his high school friends in the late sixties. Fully three-quarters of this movie is setup, if you go in thinking it's about the bank heist, and I can see why a lot of people ended up panning this. However, if you realize it's a story about one person growing up, coming of age in the middle of the jungle, and his attempted reintegration into society, it suddenly gets a whole lot better. Add an ensemble cast worthy of many praises (including a young, hip, and very funny Chris Tucker as Curtis' best friend, N'Bushe Wright as his sister-in-law, and the brilliant Keith David as Kirby, the guy who originally gets Curtis involved in crime while still in high school), and it becomes an absorbing, painful meditation on life during wartime.
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