Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Frank, the city's top drug dealer, and his little brother, Sugar Pop, are out on his
boat, discussing their respective futures. Frank explains, basically, that with the
prominent position in his occupation of choice, that being a crack dealer, he hopes to
establish a bright future for Sugar Pop and the rest of their family. But even though
selling drugs has provided them
with a lush lifestyle, all the wealth and fame that comes with the territory just
"don't mean doodley."
Now, wait a second, would this hardened criminal, or any street thug for that matter,
have the word "doodley" in their vocabulary? On second thought, does any
rational human being ever resort to that expression? Who would be intimidated by a mugger
who accosted you with, "Gimme all your doodley money! And don't give me any doodley
Anyway, its graduation day at Exeter Military Prep Academy, and as it turns out, Sugar
Pop has been recognized as the school's Top Gun in aviation, thus enabling him to attend
one of the most prestigious institutions in the country - West Point. When I say Top Gun,
however, I don't mean as in jet pilots. At Exeter, the students are trained in the fine
art of combat recreational vehicles, or Ultra-Lights. Simply, hang-gliders with a motor
and a little bucket seat. I guess the intention for these weapons of mass destruction
would be to induce fits of laughter into the enemy, and once doubled-over, blow them away.
After graduation, Sugar Pop returns home to the ghetto, where things have made a turn
for the worse: rampant crack dealing, prostitution, and kids playing football in the streets with a total disregard for traffic. Sugar Pop meets
up with his girlfriend, Twyla, who is now employed as a look-out for Frank's Crack House.
After informing Twyla of his disapproval in her choice of occupation, the neighborhood
kids surround Sugar Pop, convinced that military life had changed him, and he was no
longer in touch with life on the streets.
So, Sugar Pop takes their football, and throws a Hail Mary down the block - only to run
and catch the pass himself! Immediately after his amazing feat, the kids acknowledge him
as one of their own, and thus Sugar regains his street credibility. It makes perfect sense
if you think about it.
Meanwhile, Frank and his second-in-command, Humongous (because he's tall - get it?)
arrive, and spot a maintenance van parked outside of Frank's place of business. After
determining that the van was not, in fact, "The Man," Frank realizes that its
something even worse
- the competition!
Frank and Humongous break out the big guns just as the van doors burst open and several
hoodlums jump out and open fire. An intense battle rages (ok, semi-intense), with Frank
and Humongous taking out quite a few of the goons before the police actually show up. The
opposing faction's leader, Rock, angered at his comrade's ineptitude, kills the few
survivors of his gang, and escapes into the neighborhood.
Eventually, The Man arrives, and arrests everyone who has yet to flee, including Frank
and Humongous. Ma Graham, who, besides Sugar Pop, is Franks only family, bails Frank
and Hugh out of jail, and they immediately begin to formulate a counterattack on their
arch enemies, Rock, and his boss, Gratz, from the North Side.
Upon getting home from jail, Frank and Humongous are immediately greeted by their
respective loved ones, for, as explained by Sugar Pops voiceover, getting out of
jail makes them horny; a feeling, Im sure, most can relate to. After finishing
"The Business," Frank and Humongous break out the automatic weapons, and head
out to one of Gratzs nightclubs (presumably, at the aforementioned North Side), and proceed to obliterate a majority of the employees,
patrons, and a good portion of the club itself, for, as Humongous explains, "They
take care of personal matters, personally." Which, again, makes perfect sense when
you think about it.
After the successful siege, Frank, Humongous, Sugar Pop, and their significant others
head out to Chez Mois, a fancy French restaurant, to celebrate. Unfortunately, Gratz
somehow knows of Franks dining engagement, and has him assassinated in the restroom.
When trying to escape, the assassin is viciously gunned down by Sugar Pop, symbolizing his
departure from normal society, and his introduction to the life of a street gangster, or,
as we in "the know" (i.e. the streets) put it, "gangsta."
After Franks funeral, Sugar Pop rides around town on his moped, soul-searching;
he then makes his way to Twylas house, packs up her and her family, and brings them
back to his abode to reside. Then, Sugar and Humongous call forth a meeting of the Knights
of the Round Table; an organization comprised of the city's top crime lords, previously
assembled and ran by Frank. Sugar announces to the Knights his intention to assume
Franks prominent position on the ladder of street thug-iness. The little opposition
to Sugars announcement is squashed immediately after a display of power where Sugar Pop gives several of
the women from his family guns, and they, in turn, threaten the gangsters. Im sure
if I was a hardened street criminal, I, too, would be threatened by Sugar Pops
Sugar then puts the second phase of his plan into motion, which is to train his gang on
how to fly the Ultra-Lights, which, after strapping Uzi's to the front, will give them the
distinct advantage of aerial attacks (or, a fly-by). Luckily, Sugar's fellow gang members
prove to be quick studies, and soon they are all Ultra-Light Top Guns like the Maverick
himself, Sugar Pop. To celebrate their mastery in aviation, Sugar Pop and the gang head
out to the club for a night of drinking and dancing. When they return to the Pop
residence, however, they find their family had been slaughtered by Gratz's cronies. Sugar
Pop, grief-stricken, then realizes the error of his ways, and decides that its time to
give up selling drugs, and focus his forces on eliminating his enemies, and thus clean the
streets of narcotics. So, Sugar Pop and the gang take to the air, for a final showdown
between them and the evil crimelords of the North Side, Gratz and Rock.
Being that this was directed by Jamaa Fanaka, the same gentleman who brought us SOUL VENGEANCE, I expected something a little
different. If you haven't seen SOUL VENGEANCE, I highly recommend you go and pick it up. I
don't want to explain the story, for it'll ruin the "surprise."
Anyway, though I was expecting something different, I was not prepared
for the utter bizarreness which is STREET WARS. This movie almost defies explanation. At
some points, its a somewhat conventional urban gangster film a la MENACE TO SOCIETY; at
others, its a surrealist fantasy. I mean, this movie is just-damn-weird. Comprehension can
only possibly be attained through a viewing of this film. Even after seeing it, I still
can't believe it.
Though I've seen only a few of his works, Fanaka strikes me as a director in the vein
of, say, Ed Wood and Ray Dennis Steckler. I don't mean this as an insult. What these men
lack in talent, they make up for in inspiration. Their movies are never boring (well, a
few Steckler pieces aside). STREET WARS is not a good film. But it is a fascinatingly
strange film, and highly recommended for the bad movie aficionado in you.
- The STREET WARS theme song: "STREET!" (pause) "WARS!" (repeat
The credit rap.
- In the opening scene concerning Frank's Crack House, we have all the dealers on one
side of the living room, and all their junkie customers, locked in a huge cell, on the
other. The ones not smoking crack are begging for their next fix. At the same time, one of
the dealers studies algebra - of which, I assume, is very practical in the crack trade.
- When the cops raid Frank's Crack House, the dealers, luckily, have a convenient
barrel of acid of which to dump the incriminating evidence into. As everyone knows, no
crack house is complete without the requisite vat of acid.
Sugar Pop not only drives a moped, but a moped equipped with a
Batmobile-like jet engine on the back. For one, how am I supposed to take someone
seriously when they scoot around the 'hood on a moped? Second, how would one equip a
moped, with the fantastic speed limit of maybe 30 MPH, with a jet rocket? Third, could
someone teach me how to equip mine?
The super-imposed smoke. Apparently, real smoke was beyond their limited
budget, so whenever Sugar Pop and the gang are flying about the city, be sure to look out
for the super- imposed smoke that surrounds them. Kind of hard to miss when they're are
always flying majestically into it (in slow motion, of course).
- Humongous' aforementioned statement, "We take care of personal matters,
personally." Reminds me of the George Thorogood song in which George exclaims,
"You know when I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself." Brilliant.
Christy, one of Frank's crack dealers who also happens to be gay, not to
mention as stereotypically flamboyant as possible. After learning how to maneuver his
Ultra-Light, he gleefully exclaims, "Ooh wee! If the drag queens could see me
now!" While one of Sugar Pop's handicapped underlings says, "Up here, I don't
need no legs!" And a reporter states, "They've got their own ghetto Air
- The love theme from STREET WARS: "Sex you down, lick you down."
The Sugar Pop theme song, which conveniently recaps Sugar's
accomplishments throughout the film.
- The STREET WARS dance craze: "The Rooster." And no, I'm not making that up.
Though it is cool, its not half as "fly" as Morris Day's "The
Bird." It's got a funky beat, and I can bug out to it.
- Frank's assassination. I swear, Frank goes down before the hitman even fires.
Finally, the crown jewel of the film: Frank's funeral scene. Remember
when Jake "saw the light" in THE BLUES BROTHERS? Think of that, with about a
quarter of the budget, and the song, "Let's make some noise (it's time to
rejoice)." I was in awe. (Click on the picture to check out more scenes from Frank's
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman
Bad Movie Dimension