Releases on DVD September 1st, 2015
1 hr 23 mins
Director: Keith Miller
Writer: Keith Miller
James 'Primo' Grant as Primo
John Diaz as John
Wanda Nobles Colon as John's Mom
Jasmine Burgos as Jasmin
Richard Bird as Gun Dealer
Larry Bogad as Bar Owner
Five Star is an emotionally woven tale of two men at different stages in their life, both involved with the gang Bloods in New York City. For John (John Diaz) it is a coming of age story with a heavy burden with the shadow of his father respected in the streets but killed by supposedly a stray bullet. For Primo (James 'Primo' Grant), whose real life and fiction intermingles in the movie, is a story of family and respect. The filmmaker does an excellent job of telling their story together as Primo, a friend or colleague of John's father, mentors John in the business aspect of the gang.
What stand out most for me in the movie are the actors. It is hard to praise someone playing a role that they lived out in their actual life, their entire life. But James does an amazing job in his role as essentially himself in front of the camera. He carries a presence in every scene which is made easier with his large frame. John Diaz is also great as the conflicted John, from his playful romancing scenes with his girl Jasmine (Jasmine Burgos) to his interaction with his mother (Wanda Nobles Colon) and essentially a father figure in Primo.
The film is entirely driven by the two main characters, which if you are into movies that are more about character development than a gangster action film you are going to be happy. If you are looking for a gang film in the sense of battles between gangs and such you will be sorely disappointed. There are elements of the street life that is shown in the movie and even talked about that Primo gives an insight to as a real life "five star" general of the Bloods. But you won't see any action as far as beat downs, head shots or retaliation shootings. The focus of the film is strictly on the two characters and their current direction in life with a lot of the messier, violent stuff happening off screen if at all.
Overall, I enjoyed the film despite its somewhat plodding pace. I was expecting something along the lines of HBO's The Wire, but was still not disappointed despite the lack of action. The filmmaker does an excellent job in providing a point of view that is rarely seen in gangster films with the character Primo. The DVD which is the copy that I got to review has bonus interviews on the making of the film which is interesting. The DVD is out on September 1st but the film is actually available VOD currently.