Starring: Glenn Plummer, Byron Keith Minns, Christian Coleman and Carl Lumbly
Rated: R Crime/Drama
South Central, set in the eponymous region of Los Angeles, is centered around Bobby Johnson (Glenn Plummer). He is a member of the Hoover Street Deuces, a prominent gang that is constantly vying for control of South Central. It opens with him, having been recently released from Youth Authority, meeting up with his best friends including Ray Ray (Byron Keith Minns).
They accompany him as he makes his rounds, catching up on life he missed, including with Carole (LaRita Shelby), his girlfriend who had their son while he was locked up. After an altercation, members of the Hoover Deuces, or simply called “Deuce”, meet where Ray Ray brings them in on a new opportunity to make money … involvement in dealing crack cocaine to those in their community.
When Bobby feels he and Carole are violated by non-Deuce members, rendering them as enemies to the gang’s reign, Bobby commits a murder. With this killing, he has become an “O.G.”, or “Original Gangster”. Soon after a series of events, he is caught, convicted for the murder and incarcerated, leaving Carole and his son, Jimmy, behind.
Ten years later, life has become highly complicated for the Johnsons, as a reformed Bobby tries to save his son from becoming involved in the gang lifestyle. Will Bobby be able to protect his son and break this vicious cycle of destruction that poisons Black fatherhood, family, life and the community? Viewers will be moved to see how this all-too-real drama concludes!
Critically-acclaimed, South Central was hailed as one of the best independent films of 1992. This movie was based upon the 1987 book, Crips: The Story of the South Central L.A. Street Gang, From 1971-1985, by Donald Bakeer who taught secondary school in South Central.
The excerpt detailing Bakeer’s historical novel states, “Crips is a story that grew out of an urgent societal need for Black fathers’ guidance and love. It is the seminal work … about the largest street gang in Los Angeles, and indeed, the United States, that grew, malignantly, for over 3 decades, and is responsible for more murder and mayhem than any street gang in American history. The novel has spawned a genre of books and movies. This is the story of a young man, O. G. Jimmie Black, Sr. (O.G. Bobby Johnson in the, subsequent movie South Central) who is living in Watts, California at the time of the searing Watts Rebellion of 1965 and who, consequently, becomes a member of the original Crip gang in Los Angeles which was born and ruled in the spirit of Bunche Carter and the L.A. Black Panther Party. O.G. Jimmie Black and Raymond (a.k.a. Ray Ray, Fass Black) Johnson are composites of Raymond Washington and Tookie Williams, the first two leaders of the gang … Jimmie Black, Sr. considers himself having outgrown Crippin’ (gangbanging) after the birth of his son, Jimmie Jr., but Crippin’ keeps growing, too, until it, eventually, enlists his son and devastates his family in its cruel social tradition that festered and grew like an epidemic of kid cancer in Los Angeles, then, spread to Fresno, Portland, San Diego, Tulsa, Kansas City, Seattle, and every major and many small cities in America. But, Crips, the novel, like its film adaptation, South Central, is filled with the spirit of souls that although sorely tried, go undefeated.”
Adapted to film by writer and director Stephen Milburn Anderson, the film was produced by the eminent Oliver Stone. South Central is considered to be one of the most iconic urban films of its era and is often compared to movies such as Straight Out of Brooklyn (1991) , Menace II Society (1993), and, notably, American History X. Premiering in 1998, AHX starred Edward Norton, Edward Furlong and Avery Brooks.
Praise for South Central includes three nominations made in 1993. They are Glenn Plummer for “Most Promising Actor” Award of the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards; Christian Coleman for “Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture” Award for the Young Artist Awards; and Stephen Milburn Anderson for “Best Film” at Mystfest.
A soundtrack, South Central (Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), was released to accompany the film. Produced by Hollywood Records, it was comprised of R&B, soul and hip-hop. Artists featured on it include Vaughn Mason and Crew, Cameo, Lakeside and Slave, as well as Piru Blood gang members of Compton (in Los Angeles County), D.J. Quik, Hi-C and KK.