Danny Trejo may be showing his lighthearted side lately, playing for chuckles as he caricaturizes his own tough-guy image in commercials and tongue-in-cheek film roles. But in light of his new comedic persona, it’s easy to forget that Trejo is actually one badass mofo. Now it seems he has returned to his roots as a big-time EasLos gangbanger trying to clean up his life after returning home from prison in David Llauger Meiselman’s new feature, Strike One.
The plot revolves around the relationship between Trejo’s character, Manny Garcia, and his young nephew, Juan, who is feeling the pull of gang life and the promise of “cash, cars and girls.” Intent on steering Juan away from the temptations of criminal life, Manny finds he must do one more job to settle the score with the very gang he once led. Judging from the trailer, things get pretty tense along the way, with gang beatdowns, lots of guns, police raids, and… Carl Winslow as a pontificating juvenile court judge?
Naturally, this wouldn’t be a gangland crime thriller without all of the above stated genre cues, and indeed it seems as if the writers and director went straight to the manual for this one. Filled with more than it’s fair-share of trite one-liners (“Life is a game, but there are rules.”), academic, high-key lighting and the muted, unexpressive colors of a Canon 5D or thereabouts, this one seems to be little more than another dime-a-dozen, assembly line genre piece.
In all, it seems the producers were banking on the Trejo brand to get this one through to audiences. And that may very well be enough.
Strike One is playing in New York on February 19 as part of the Viva Latino Film Festival.