Savvas D. Michael
Savvas D. Michael
Castor has a problem. He's a kid who's been left alone in the world to fend for himself, with no parents, no guardians, and no friends. Left to learn to survive out in the "wild" with nothing but instinct, and he does just that. As a child, Castor witnessed the murder of his parents by a hitman calling himself Milo, and as luck would have it, Milo simply couldn't bring himself to murder an innocent kid. He makes sure Castor knows that he let him live, that he saved his life - and Castor believes it. Fast forward many years, and we find Castor right where Milo left him. Alone and on the streets. Homeless, uneducated, and very naive; also violent and ruthless - willing to do whatever it takes to survive with no regret or remorse no matter how harsh his actions.
Through a random encounter, adult Castor finds himself at the business end of Milo's gun, and once recognition settles in, Milo again decides to let Castor live only this time, takes him home. Milo is astounded that sitting across from him, in his living room, is the boy he let live - chatting with him and his wife. As the film moves forward, Milo decides to try and help Castor get his life together. If you want to call becoming a drug-dealer or gangster, the act of getting your life together. I'm not sure I would.
Castor bungles his first attempt at dealing drugs, and his follow-up actions are severe and swift, making Castor a wanted murderer - but someone sees a use for a man like Castor... a problem solver of sorts. The big boss of the area, Jean-Baptiste Philippe, correctly believes Castor could help solve a lot of problems for him. A man with no remorse? Hell yeah! As Castor earns his keep, the story shifts a little, and during a dinner, Milo's wife, Maria, shoots Milo dead. The plot threads for this were put into place early on, as has Maria's interest in Castor, but now, Castor is left with a choice. Kill Maria, revenge for killing his father-figure Milo, or let her live. Complicating matters is Jean-Baptiste, who also wants Maria to pay the ultimate price for what she's done. What will Castor do? You'll have to watch the film to find out.
Simply stated, "Original Gangster" is exactly what it says on the box, a gangster film through and through. What makes Savvas D. Michael's film a little different are the threads of psychology woven into the story itself. As a kid who has only known the streets from a very young age, learned behavior themes, including emotion, are all brought to the surface. Castor has no remorse, is socially dysfunctional, and is essentially portrayed as a feral child turned adult who knows nothing but hardship and eventually violence. When you factor in the violence that began his life on the streets, the questions of nature Vs. need quickly become evident. Castor isn't a dumb guy, but because of how he was forced to live, he is not only as emotional as a stone - but also can't perform basic functions... like being able to read. It's the perfect storm for creating a cold-blooded killer, but you have to ask, who would Castor have been without Milo's murderous intrusion?
I also need to give credit to the production and post-production teams. This is a low-budget, independent film that looks pretty damn great, and if that weren't enough, the acting is splendid. Perhaps a little over the top at times, but those crazy scenes add a little comedy to this otherwise very gritty, very violent film. I actually laughed out loud at Castor and Jean-Baptiste's conversation during one of the final scenes involving a shoot-out. But make no mistake, a few chuckles aside, this is a very real, very violent film.
When it's all said and done, "Original Gangster" may be a little lengthy, but it's anything but boring. You go into this movie expecting your run of the mill gangster flick, and you most definitely get it - but you also get a little more. It all comes together the way I imagine it was meant to, and honestly? Michael's film easily beats out a lot of studio flicks I've seen recently. Ain't nothing wrong with that. Four stars.