Off The Hook

An extremely low budget piece of contemporary social realism that almost makes up for in intensity what it lacks in technical polish and originality. First time writer/director Adam Watstein based the film on the true story of Walter Velasquez (who plays himself), an aspiring rapper whose best friend and partner Lorenzo Lewis (Jamal Mackey) was also a small-time...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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An extremely low budget piece of contemporary social realism that almost makes up for in intensity what it lacks in technical polish and originality. First time writer/director Adam Watstein based the film on the true story of Walter Velasquez (who plays himself), an aspiring rapper whose best friend and partner Lorenzo Lewis (Jamal Mackey) was also a small-time drug dealer. Shot on the fly in real South Bronx locations, the film chronicles Lorenzo's road to a tragic end — a fate that seems to have been preordained, despite the best efforts of both Walter and community leader/mentor Anthony Young (also playing himself), who tried to instill an ethic of self-discipline in Walter and Lorenzo, but only succeeded with one. To his credit, Watstein doesn't sugarcoat his character's lives; Walter is an admirable guy on many levels, but he isn't a saint — he's knocked up Lorenzo's sister Narine (Pamela Johnson). And given Lorenzo's background, notably his wildly abusive, crackhead mother (quite chillingly played by LVee Anduze), it's amazing he's still alive by the end of the first reel. Still, there's an inescapable second-hand feeling to the whole business (think 1937's DEAD END with hand-held camera and mostly amateur actors). The fact that this is somebody's real-life story up on there the screen doesn't necessarily guarantee it's an especially fresh story.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An extremely low budget piece of contemporary social realism that almost makes up for in intensity what it lacks in technical polish and originality. First time writer/director Adam Watstein based the film on the true story of Walter Velasquez (who plays… (more)

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