Take the familiar tale of a young entertainer who'll do anything to become a success, set it in Jamaica and LA, cast Mark Danvers from Third World Cop as the ambitious "yout'" and Michael "Bear" Taliferro as the LA crime boss, mix in reggae and hip-hop soundtrack tunes with special appearances by Jamaican singers, pepper liberally with violence, add a pinch of sex, and you've got Rude Boy: The Jamaican Don, a new indie action film that strikes a blow for crime-story multiculturalism. With riddims.
The 2001 feature-length drama, produced by East Bay-based 3G Films with some help from Amsell Entertainment in Los Angeles, runs Jamaican actor Danvers through a gamut of seamy situations as Julius St. John, who travels from Trench Town to Tinsel Town as the original dance hall hit man in the service of behemoth drug trafficker Biggs (Taliferro). Many murders later, their relationship begins to sour. Chelsea Brown, president of 3G Films, is proud of Rude Boy's authentic location work, shot in Kingston and in various California places (including Oakland and SF, in addition to LA). Production cost was in the neighborhood of $750,000, but it looks more expensive thanks to director Desmond Gumbs' flair for urban sleaze. And dance hall stars Ras Kidus, Beenie Man, and Ninja Man add to the flavor in their dramatic roles. Brown, director Gumbs, screenwriter Trenten Gumbs, and production designer Richard Gumbs II share family roots in the West Indies. "Production money goes further in Jamaica," Brown says. "If we were to get all our actors here, it'd cost more. We were able to tap into a different type of culture, and the Jamaican actors especially had a lot of fun." Best of all for Stateside audiences, English subtitles are provided in the American cut, to help cut through the island patois.
Rude Boy premiered in Jamaica, and 3G's latest, an actioner called Is It Worth It?, opens there this spring. But first comes Rude Boy's screening at the Parkway, Tuesday, February 25, 9:15 p.m., $5. If you miss that, it'll play a week at the 4 Star in San Francisco, beginning February 28.