Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Paradise Broken: the Mean Streets of Waikiki
is not Steve McGarrett’s Hawaii. Behind the luxury hotels, sex and drugs are
openly sold, with nary a cop in sight. Even though they are locals, a
junkie-pimp and his prostitute-girlfriend have a hard time making it on Waikiki’s
mean streets in James Sereno’s Paradise
MarVista Entertainment releases today on VOD platforms, including Vudu.
Geronimo and Misha Domingo vaguely dream of owning their own beachfront bungalow,
but their day-to-day concerns solely focus on their next hit of smack. Towards
that end, Geronimo reluctantly started pimping Domingo out. It was really her
idea. She thinks they can do better if they join forces with the Mainlander known
only as “Pimp” (seriously, that is all it says on his business cards), but
Geronimo sees him as just another outside exploiter. He would rather poach the
gangster’s greenest new street-walker. However, Geronimo’s expansionist plans
incite Domingo’s jealousy, leading to a messy split at an inopportune time.
together or apart, Geronimo and Domingo will do junkie things as junkies do,
which isn’t very pretty to watch, but it is relentlessly honest. Similarly,
Sereno is determined to reinforce the notion of two radically different Hawaii’s,
immediately following up every glamour shot of the coast line or the night club
with an up-close-and-personal look at the underclass squalor of Dante’s life.
Geronimo, Dante Basco (a veteran of the Awesome Asian Bad Guys) is a tightly coiled spring, always ready to explode with
rage. Nadine Nicole Heimann is also plenty erratic as Domingo, while Katherine
Emily Mills is a disturbing picture of innocence as the girl he tries to
recruit. However, the demonically charismatic Khalil Kain steals scene after
scene as Geronimo’s more ruthless rival. Some might consider it a dubious honor,
but Kain’s nameless antagonist might be the most distinctive movie pimp
performance since Morgan Freeman’s Oscar nominated turn in Street Smart.
Although there is a bit of an over-reliance on
flashback devices, Sereno’s execution is still pretty smooth and the ensemble performances are faultless. Still,
there is no getting around the fact this is one downer narrative. Nevertheless,
it is genuinely a film of and by Hawaii, featuring some breakout-worthy work
from its principals. Recommended for those who appreciate gritty, street smart
dramas, Paradise Broken launches
today (8/11) on VOD, from MarVista Entertainment.
Labels: Hawaiian Cinema, VOD