Blerd Film Club: Shottas

Years before Shottas was released in the United States officially it had already created a fan base. This is because a bootleg version of the film made its way to America and was heavily circulated. The film depicts a small criminal organization as they move from Jamaica to navigate the crime and violence of Miami.

Biggs and Wayne are young boys growing up in Jamaica. Biggs mother has sent him back from The United States hoping Jamaica will provide a better background to grow up. The two young children attempt to befriend a soda truck driver. Once they learn how much money he makes, they rob him. Wayne gets in front of the truck and pretends to be hit. Biggs shoots the driver and takes the money. Once the boys have the money they, as children, purchase passports to go to America. Then the film fast forwards twenty years.

Biggs arrives back in Jamaica after being deported from the United States. There Wayne waits for him, because he was also deported four years prior. (It isn't mentioned or explained until much later, you'll just have to pick up on it.) Wayne introduces Biggs to Mad Max, the number one gangster in Jamaica, because gangsters are ranked. During the celebration Biggs wants something more for himself than the life of a gangster. He's also re-introduced to Wayne's brother, who is now a gangster. Wayne's brother was never mentioned at the start of this film.

The first day out, they go to extort a business owner who has not payed protection money. Mad Max shoots the owner when he refuses to pay. Biggs gives them an emotional speech about gangsters and how it isn't gangster to rob store owners. The store owner murder gives the police all they need to track down and murder Wayne's brother. They just shot him. Wayne goes to argue with a diplomat about wanting revenge. The diplomat sends the police to their hangout and seven of Wayne's gang are murdered. Biggs, Wayne and Mad Max make one phone call and force the diplomat to get them passports.

Again, skipping time, they've somehow abducted the secretary for this diplomat. They receive the passports and murder the diplomat (nobody ever investigates this murder.) Then Biggs orders Mad Max to release the secretary, (she really has no name) because shooting women isn't gangster either. Another time skip and we're in Miami.

They immediately extort a weed dealer for a cut of his profits without ever pulling a gun or making a threat. This is because at some point that was never mentioned Biggs was once King of Miami. They go see the current king Teddy Bruck Shut. They easily extort Teddy and his twenty or so armed henchmen for a cut of their profit, without ever firing a single gun shot. Then we fast forward again. Now they're buying expensive rolexes and driving flashy cars. The next half hour of the film is just them spending money and cameos by other Jamaican artists, and a skinny and silent DJ Khaled.

Fast forward, Teddy has the weed dealer murdered at a party to send a message. They try to figure out who did it, while robbing a cash delivery. Then they go home. Their home is attacked by Teddy's men in the most comical shootout I have ever witnessed in a movie. Not intentionally comical, but comical in the sense that you see a man dive thirty feet in flip flops. Wayne is killed and Mad Max is shot. Biggs takes the time to get dressed and pack all the money. Then he puts on a white shirt, and picks up a bloody Mad Max and instantly covers the shirt in blood. He drops Mad Max off at the hospital.

Biggs then swims through the ocean and climbs up a cliff to get to Teddy's private pool. There he shoots a white woman, because shooting women actually is gangster if it's a white woman but not a black woman? He then forces Teddy to put the gun in his mouth and claims he wants Teddy's soul. Biggs then gets on a boat and rides off in the moonlight.

I'll be honest, I don't care for this film. I've never been to Jamaica, I don't know much about the crime over there past what I've seen in documentaries or heard in music. Yet, it seems to be an over exaggeration. I could be wrong about that. However, when the crime makes it to Miami I'm certain it's an over exaggeration. A shootout in a Miami mansion on the beach and nobody calls the police? Diplomats directly dealing with crime bosses in one on one meetings and chatting on the phone? It's just kind of silly to me.

The violence in Menace II Society was grounded in realism, designed to shake you to the core. Shottas violence seems overly dramatic and down right ridiculous at moments. There's a scene where Mad Max smokes a cigarette with a severed hand and reveals he's been counting his victims. It's just so silly. In another scene Biggs does a slow motion dive and shoots multiple men.

The film is often held up as a classic depiction of the criminal life in both Jamaica and America. Usually when someone makes that claim I have to stop myself from laughing in their face. I'm not a criminal, but I've known enough criminals that I know this is ridiculous. They're supposed to be drug dealers, but they never deal any drugs. They just walk into Miami and say "this is ours now," and that's it. Over night they're millionaires.

In reality, it was just a way to get a lot of Jamaican musicians and musicians affiliated with Jamaican musicians in a film after the success of Belly a few years prior. If you've never seen Belly it's a film staring almost exclusively Black American musicians and directed by Hype Williams who almost exclusively directs music videos. Of all the main characters Paul Williams who portrays Mad Max is the only person that is an actor and not a reggae or dance hall artist. On top of that, Paul Williams never says a word in the whole film.

Is Shottas a good movie? To some people. If you're into overly dramatic violence. Criminals with moral codes that are somewhat twisted and overly dramatic violence. Go watch Hustle and Flow. I'm joking, Shottas may be the movie for you, but for me it was just kind of hilarious.

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Blerd Film Club: Shottas Blerd Film Club: Shottas Reviewed by Blerds Online on Thursday, February 07, 2019 Rating: 5

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