Directed by: Steve Young
Written by: Steve Young
Genre: Gangster / Crime
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After a wicked-violent introduction to the gangster world of Hells Kitchen, I was told it was 1978 and a great time to be a gangster. I'm not sure any time is a great time to be a gangster, but I'm not blind either. The appeal of the mob really began with the original Godfather movie and grew from there. Real life gangsters probably love the life all the way until it's their turn at the end of a gun, bat, or crowbar. Or worse. It's a world of money and power where rule number one is shut up. This is the world I expected from Hells Kitchen, and this is the world I got.
The opening scene is Steve Young's movie at its most violent. Torture and finally, torched for the man in the bin. The rest of the film takes place in a church where we meet the gangsters of the film as they wait for the Don, their boss, to arrive. You might have figured out that something is not right, money is being lost, and someone is not doing what they are supposed to. When their rival shows up for a "talk", I believed things would go one way, and by the end, things went completely different. This title ends in true gangster fashion with a body dump at sea; it's at this point I realized there was a lot that had happened in around 20 minutes. A gangster movie this is, and it's all done very well. I was impressed that a micro-budget title held so much sway over me.
A lot of this film comes from the stories told. Right at the start, there's a story of a man and his ability to "smell" where he was; and another story later from the Don before the film presented its twist ending. These little stories within stories felt so perfectly in a mob film, that they helped create a good chunk of the atmosphere. Hells Kitchen is also beautifully shot and edited, capturing a lot of energy that a film of mostly talking heads really needs. With the most action being at the start, and very end of this title, it's the finesse of the camera and tight editing that moves Hells Kitchen from point A to point Z; also, the great acting, you can't forget about that.
Hells Kitchen isn't up there with the legends of mob movies like The Godfather, Casino, or even Scarface, but it's still a pretty impressive movie, all things considered. It has a good story, although a little light on the action for a gangster movie, and it looks and sounds fantastic. I also couldn't help but dig the outfits.