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Colors (1988)

With Dragnet-style gravity, this movie informs us of the 600 gangs, the 70,000 gang members and the 400 gang-related murders in Los Angeles County each year.

Then LAPD veteran Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) and eager young recruit Danny McGavin (Sean Penn) are assigned to the city’s special CRASH gang crime division.

Their own methods are perpetually in conflict – Hodges is the non-violent elder-statesman cop trying to handle the frustrating problem, while McGavin is a hot-shot rookie, given to spray gunning young suspects in the face – yet neither is better than the other at coming to terms with the violence and nihilism of the red-clad ‘Bloods’ and the blue ‘Crips’.

As virtual war breaks out between the two vicious street gangs – their members armed with machine guns and fuelled with drug money – so the narrative becomes increasingly difficult.

The street-wise dialogue is hard to decipher, and Hopper’s take on women is unreservedly misogynistic, though Colors rides along on a high-octane aggression that makes plot complications redundant.

The picture is tense, unpleasant and authentic and is obviously sympathy for both sides of the war, but it’s not particularly enjoyable viewing.



Danny McGavin
Sean Penn
Bob Hodges
Robert Duvall
Louisa Gomez
Maria Conchita Alonso
Ron Delaney
Randy Brooks
Larry Sylvester
Grand L Bush
Don Cheadle
Gerardo Mejia
Clarence Brown (‘High Top’)
Glenn Plummer
Rudy Ramos
Sy Richardson
Trinidad Silva

Dennis Hopper