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Category:    Home > Reviews > Gangster > Drama > Thriller > Domestic Terrorism > Latino > A Kiss Of Chaos (2009/Maya DVD) + Shake Hands With The Devil (2007/E1 DVD)

A Kiss Of Chaos (2009/Maya DVD) + Shake Hands With The Devil (2007/E1 DVD)


Picture: C+/C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-/C+     Films: B-/C



Sometimes a fictional film turns out to have more edge than a similar project based on a serious real life event.  It does not happen often, especially these days, but it can.


Ricardo Sean Thompson’s A Kiss Of Chaos (2009) starts out like many of the lame gangster films we’ve seen today, with tough talk, gunplay, a deadly situation caused by involvement in shady business and you know someone will die.  However, the writer/director has us quickly move into the thick of the story showing us that something much more is going on.  You have a subtle betrayal decision that puts a large bag of cocaine on the streets, a female artist who is dealing with her ugly family past (plus its current family repercussions and her private sexual relationships), you have others anxious & desperate to cash in on any opportunity whatsoever, then there are the owners of that narcotic package who want either the package or its cash equivalent… or both.


Though the drugs may be a MacGuffin, the point is it also serves as an excuse to be a character study of these people, their surroundings and things that becomes so realistically cold and cynical that this is one of the rare works of late that actually achieves true Film Noir territory versus the hundreds of posers and imitators we have had to suffer through in recent years.  Judy Marte, Manny Perez and Adam Rodriguez (in what he knowns is a scene-stealing role) head a cast of very good actors in one of the few good Gangster tales in post-The Sopranos era.  It may have some inconsistencies, some digital work does not work and we have seen some things here before, but it is one of the only such works of late to seem of its time and era without being a silly copy of endless clichés.


Thompson wrote and directed this work and may be one of the few next really promising directors out there in what has become a vast wasteland of wanna bees and phonies.  I hope he gets to make another film.


Roger Spottiswoode’s Shake Hands With The Devil, a 2007 effort that wants to tell us about a solider (Roy Dupris) fighting for survival against the same forces that responsible for genocide in Rwanda, sadly lands up being all over the place and despite being based on a book, I thought the script (based on the book by Lt. Roméo Ballaire, who Dupris plays) did not go all the way or beyond the confines of a very sadly predictable path of his story.


Working for the U.N., on behalf of his home country of Canada, he becomes a lone voice trying to go beyond the peacekeeping mandate in the country because the genocidal situation is so bad that he rightly believes it is insufficient to stop much worse form happening.  Though the acting is good and intent is sincere, the film is not much above a telefilm and feels late versus the likes of Hotel Rwanda, but it is at least a record if the truth.  The cast is good including mostly unknown actors here and the interesting Deborah Kara Unger.  At least it is an ambitious work.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on both features have their issues, both on the soft side, but Devil has larger issues with less detail and consistency throughout.  Chaos has some good shots and has a smart use of color that seems to be too rare these days.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on each also are really pushing the dialogue-based films which are more than simple stereo at best, though Chaos has more of a soundfield because it has good ideas about ambience in its soundmix.


Extras on Devil include a feature length audio commentary track with Spottiswoode & Ballaire, second with the other filmmakers and a Making Of featurette, while Chaos only has some trailers when it deserves much more.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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