Sep 28, 201211:01 AMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
Off The Beaten Trail: ‘Gang Of Roses’
Earlier this month, Off the Beaten Trail celebrated Johnny Guitar, an off-kilter western with strong female leads. That seemed like an interesting theme to revisit, and there’s no more fitting film to meet that criteria than 2003’s Gang of Roses.
Westerns with female leads are rare; westerns with African-American leads are even less common. So Gang of Roses, with its nearly all African-American female cast, may be among the most unique westerns ever made. Does that make it great? Not by a long shot, but sometimes just being different makes a refreshing enough change from the parade of recycled concepts that passes for much of today’s entertainment.
As the film opens, the members of the Rose Gang have retired and gone their separate ways after 27 successful bank robberies. But when the sister of one of the group is murdered, the gang reunites to seek vengeance — and steal a fortune in gold at the same time.
The cast is more than game, doing everything it can to sell scenes on enthusiasm alone. Monica Calhoun has the tough-girl charm of Pam Grier in her heyday, and lovely Stacey Dash has her best role since Clueless.
Rapper L’il Kim sets a record for most anachronisms in a 90-minute film; you’d never catch Clint Eastwood saying “Let’s just chill out here for a hot second.” Also in for cameos are Bobby Brown, Mario Van Peebles, singer Macy Gray, and Ted Lange, who plays (what else?) the bartender.
The film went direct to DVD (as did its recent sequel), which is never a great sign, and I can’t say I disagree with that decision. But for those with affection for the kind of exploitation cinema worshipped by Quentin Tarantino, Gang of Roses delivers the goods.