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Veteranos (1999)

Cast: Jesse Borrego, Jesse Borrego, Ed "Crooked" Quiroz, more...
Director: Ed "Crooked" Quiroz, Ed "Crooked" Quiroz, Jose "Duke" Quiroz, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Spartan
Genre: Gangsters
Running Time: 78 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish
    see additional details...

This title is currently out of print.

Jesse Borrego and members of the Latin Hip-Hop crew DarkRoom Familia star in this hard-edged story of life in the barrio. Crooked, Sir Dyno and Drew are three friends from a Hispanic ghetto where crime runs rampant and life is cheap. Someone is murdering many of their friends from the neighborhood; they realize they can't fight the killers all by themselves, so they recruit a local "veterano" for help. Directors Jose Quiroz and Ed Quiroz also helmed DarkRoom Familia's previous direct-to-video release Penitentiary Chances. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

How could something so wrong be so right? by AHurley June 22, 2004 - 10:10 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Perhaps the most endearing (or irritating?) moments in this very low-budget film come when Sir Dyno and his homies are sitting on the couch in Dyno's home with Jesse Borrego (Santos). Placed strategically upright and facing the camera in these scenes are VHS cassettes of films in which Borrego had played a starring role (Blood In, Blood Out and Con Air, for example). In one moment, you can see Borrego notice these props and hold back a smile (or grimace?). I imagined that he wondered what he was doing in this film, which is really a prolonged amateur gangsta rap video masquerading as a feature length film. Speculating further, I imagined that he had received a letter from the directors, who wrote about their desire to film Chicano street life in the Bay Area and how inspired they had been by his work. Borrego, being a good guy, offered to help even though he knew a script in which each line ends in "homes" probably wasn't going to be his biggest acting challenge. Or maybe on one of Sir Dyno's trips to see familia in Tejas, he met up with Borrego and asked him to help. Or maybe a family member or friend approached Borrego. But regardless of how it happened, the Darkroom Family of rap fame got to be in a movie with Jesse Borrego and the amazingly revolutionary Boots Riley, a Bay Area hero. And Borrego and Riley, to their credit, treat their roles seriously. There's a lot of love that got this film made, and that may be why I don't hate it. After all, even the mighty Borrego couldn't save this well-intentioned film from some painfully awkward moments. The story felt like something the teenage and young 20s wannabe-vatos I know could have written. Maybe that's one reason why I like it. There's a kind of authentic storytelling and yearning for recognition in it. It's kind of like the reworking of Scarface/Godfather gangsta fantasies (with a sprinking of Oz and other prison dramas) in more intimate and familiar (albeit often silly) terms. There's a real earnestness to the film. I'll spare you a synopsis, and focus instead on why -- in spite of the cliches, really uncritical sexism, and the repeated use of the phone number 867-5309 -- I can't help liking this movie. The characters look real. The locations and props are also real -- painfully so. The white guys in the movie are unapologetically bad. There are lots of "bad guys" in the movie, but they are the worst, and they all get smoked -- of course, so do a lot of other people. And with white guys with names like Whitey and Caspar, how can you not love this movie? (And lest anyone not "get" all the jokes, most are repeated and explained for the audience, so you don't even have to work while watching it -- it's pre-interpreted for you.) The violence isn't gory or even remotely realistic, which makes it easier for senstive folks like me to watch. When one character (Fed Ex, the arms dealer) gets shot, he just falls down, and there is clearly no fake blood or anything like that to inspire an "ewww" reaction. The ending credits linger slowly over each name, giving each cast and crew member a moment of glory, which I wanted them to enjoy. And the best part comes after the credits. There are two music videos, the second of which is really good. If only the radical political critique in that song (with Boots) had fueled the storyline. I think these veteranos and vatos could have done something more meaningful, but I still can't help loving them for what they did. So, in a nutshell, this is a really bad movie, but it's also perhaps a "bad" movie, and if you have a place in your heart for a well-intentioned film that aspires to be more than what it is, why not rent it? And if you like Oakland, rap, thick dudes, Jesse Borrego, or Boots, you'll not want to miss it. P.S. Jesse Borrego, if I made a movie too, would you be in it?

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 4.00)
2 Votes
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Jesse Borrego Film Festival
Dave Chappelle loves him, and so does Salma Hayek. We've all seen him, his skills are a matter of record, and yet his props are so few and far between!

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