Gang of Roses

Although this movie was released sometime in 2003, I’d never heard of it. I was recently watching it on cable and thought I’d give a shoutout to the only Black female Western in existence, to my knowledge. (It does have a sequel, btw)  A Jean-Claude La Marre film, starring Stacy Dash, Monica Calhoun, Bobby Brown, Macy Gray, LisaRaye, Loius Mandylor, and Marie Matiko, it’s about an all-girl posse, seeking revenge for the murder of the leader’s (LisaRaye) sister by an all-male posse led by Bobby Brown.

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Kind of like a cross between Set It Off and Mario Van Peebles’ Posse, the focus here is entirely on the women, their adventures and interrelationships. Just like Posse, the cast is almost entirely African American.  I’m not normally into heist films and this is only partially that, but I do like a good Western. This is not a Blockbuster film, it’s not even a great film. I give the film about 3 stars, or rather 3 bullets. The acting could be much, much better, but it’s interesting for what it is.

I know there were plenty of Black people running about in the West, after the Civil War but this is the one of the few Westerns that acknowledges this. Yes, there were whole towns of Black folks, cowboys, sex workers, gamblers and what have you in the Old West but no one knows these stories. I rather enjoy the idea of Black gunslingers and wish more movies like this were made and received the kind of backing and acclaim of any one of Kevin Costner’s movies.

The movie is full of the usual Western cliches. (The shootout, the saloon, some whores.) There’s a lot of horseback riding, naturally. What makes this all so interesting to watch, is the novelty of seeing a Black woman in white leather, winning a card game and a shootout in the local saloon. Black women in Westerns don’t get to have shoot outs or ride horses or look cool as fuck in white leather.

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(Thank you LisaRaye, for that image.) Black women mostly get to be prostitutes or cooks and this was a refreshing change from that, even though the movie itself is merely mediocre. See, we like to have adventures, too and it was nice to see a movie where the Black people have their own wants, desires and agendas that didn’t revolve around White folks needs, wants or agendas. The women in this movie aren’t there to make anyone else happy but themselves and that’s a refreshing change from the usual Black woman as sidekick in most genre films. (The first Aliens vs Predator movie, starring Sanaa Lathan and Demon Knight starring Jada Pinkett, stand  out for this reason, too. )

The end of the movie is a little like the end of Wyatt Earp, which I enjoyed a lot. There’s a lot of shooting in the streets and yelling for people to come out, to be shot. Bobby Brown is his usual awful self. Great Chuck!  That man can’t act a lick and mostly looks rather sloppy in lots of brown fringe. Ms. Matiko, in black leather and a bustier, looks much better and stands out for her ability to twirl her six-guns and she’s awesome.

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This movie is great for spectacle and I approached it the way I approach most fantasy films. It’s like watching Django Unchained or Steampunk or Tolkien. You know this couldn’t happen in real life (several men, both White and Black, get shot and no one raises an eyebrow at that, or the thought of an all female gang in the first place.)

Also if you’ve seen the end of Django Unchained, with the dancing horse, there’s a scene, just before the end credits, that I believe Tarantino stole, sorry… borrowed from this movie.

The music is also not too bad either. It mostly uses all modern songs by Popular artists. There’s no twanging guitars or country-soul hybrids, though. It’s straight R&B-Soul. So,  if you like  mid-tempo music with a New Jack beat the soundtrack is worth listening to.

Its not a great movie but it was a diverting 90 minutes. If you like to watch beautiful Black women shooting and riding (and I would love to know the behind-the-scenes stories on this movie) you could do worse than this and it’s still a lot better than Bad Girls,  a movie that just put me right to sleep.

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  1. Pingback: Black Cowboys/Girls & Black Westerns – Geeking Out about It

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