Riot (1997) starring Dante Basco, Kieu Chinh, Mako, Alexis Cruz, Yelba Osorio, John Ortiz directed by Richard Di Lello, David C. Johnson, Alex Munoz, Galen Yuen Movie Review

Riot (1997)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Yelba Osorio and Alexis Cruz in Riot (1997)

A Los Angeles Crash

If tension in Los Angeles was not already high enough the verdict which came down in 1992 over the Rodney King incident made things a lot worse as chaos ensued on the streets. "Riot" interweaves 4 true stories of the violence which happened after the verdict came down and how it affected individuals who ended caught up on it.

Within 15 minutes of "Riot" started I already knew how I was going to review what was a difficult movie to review and that was to just describe the opening story called "Gold Mountain". It is about the Lee family and in particular Jeff, played by Dante Basco, who having been raised in America by his traditional Asian parents is torn between the family's traditions and the modern culture. We see how he tries to obey his parents by not getting into fights and being confrontational but it is hard when he is around other young Asians who don't have his parents. But then the rioting starts and when he rushes back to the family corner store he witnesses his parents letting the place be looted but pleading for the looters not to torch the place. I won't say how this section ends up but it is a powerfully filmed series of scenes which feel like they were being shot in the midst of trouble.

This opening scene explains what it was like to be a young Asian in Los Angeles around the time, the conflict of tradition, culture and honour but also how all those things were tested by what happened in the riots. We see similar when it comes to another section when a couple of Hispanic teenagers find themselves caught in the sweeping riots and shop looting which was going on which end up connecting to the first story. It makes "Riot" an experience, an eye opening look of what went on in the chaos after the verdict was announced but done in a way which males you also look for where the connections are going to come.

What this all boils down to is that "Riot" ends up the sort of movie you look at on paper and think that maybe it isn't for you but when you start to watch it is so well put together than it is captivating and a real experience movie rather than just a piece of entertainment.