of the drawbacks to leading a neighborhood gang is that everyone knows who you
are. That was especially true of El Chino, whose titular outfit ran the Cotiza neighborhood
of Caracas in the mid-1980s. Everybody knew him and usually had a good idea
where to find him, including his girlfriend’s cousin, who was a top lieutenant in
a rival gang. The new police death squad will also have a good idea of his
whereabouts in Francisco Javier Mujica’s Los
8-6, which screens during the 2016 Venezuelan Film Festival in New York.
Chino is one bad cast. Yesenia’s cousin Morocho also thinks he is pretty tough,
but he is not in the same league. That is why she frequently beseeches El Chino
not to kill the dumb kid, but that is not the sort of guarantee he is inclined
to grant, especially not now.
consolidating their hold on Cotiza, the 8-6 suddenly find themselves fighting a
two-front war against Morocho’s gang and the newly formed special off-the-books
police commando squad. This is probably not the best time to take down a big
score, but El Chino does so anyway. That just adds a big bag of destabilizing
cash into to the equation.
no disrespect intended towards Mujica, Los
8-6 illustrates what colleagues have said about creative writing programs
they have run in prisons. Every inmate writes the same story about a drug deal
gone bad, but some of those stories are still really darned compelling. Mujica’s
story is respectably middling.
the most distinctive part of the film is El Chino’s dysfunctionally fiery
relationship with Yesenia. It seems like they are always fighting, yet we can
also feel the constant underlying heat. Logically, Ernesto Ceballos and Martha
Tarazona are the standouts as Chino and Yesenia. To be fair, the entire cast is
completely professional and thoroughly believable. They are simply not playing
strongly defined characters.
We have definitely seen this sort of thing
before, usually executed with a more colorful cast of characters. We can admire
Mujica’s gritty integrity, but Los 8-6 still
very much feels like a shopworn story, like the retold tale of the drug deal
gone bad. Still, its workmanlike quality makes it watchable. Genre fans who
want to support the festival have surely seen worse gangster films. It just isn’t
special in any noteworthy way. Kind of an “eh,” Los 8-6 screens this Thursday (9/15), at the Village East, as part
of this year’s VEFFNY.
Labels: Gangster Films, VEFFNY '16, Venezuelan Cinema