Riot (1997)

Directed by
Richard Di Lello
David C. Johnson

This made-for-TV movie is surprisingly good.

Taking four very different, but interlocking, views on the 1992 Los Angeles riots that rocked the world, this movie is a must-see, very powerful, often emotional and shocking.

The riots were sparked by the shocking verdict which came out of the Rodney King case. In the early hours of a March morning, Rodney King was stopped by 3 LAPD policemen for speeding.

After 'quietening' the 25-year-old with a 50,000 volt electric dart gun, the three persisted in attacking the man with their batons.

This attack continued even after the arrival of 27 uniformed officers and resulted in 57 blows being brought down on Rodney causing some really horrific injuries.

After the incident the officers claimed that they were reacting in self-defence stating that Rodney was violentally resisting arrest.

This would have been a good enough reason for burying the incident, if it wasn't for the presence of a video tape which recorded the entire attack and left the officers directly to blame.

However after a 35-day long trial which took place in a predominantly-white LA suburb, the policemen in question were found "Not Guilty" of all charges.

This outcome caused violent civil uprisings across North America. Within the city of Los Angeles, the civil unrest left a vicious trail of carnage where 60 people died, nearly 3000 were injured, over 3000 fires where started and over $730,000,000 of damage was caused.

This movie is made up of four different stories which inevitably link together.

In "Gold Mountain" (directed by Galen Yuez) we see a version of evets told from the viewpoint of the Asian community when an Oriental off-licence suffers inexplicable tragedy when it is looted and vandalised during the peak of the riots.

"Caught Up in the Fever" (directed by Alex Munoz) follows the stories of three Hispanic youths that are drawn into the allure of looting and violence. He is soon shown the error of his ways which were only inforced by his thinking only of how many things he can get for his impoverished family.

"Empty" (directed by Richard Di Lello) sees a white policeman, Boomer (Luke Perry) having a more sympathetic viewpoint on te riots and the reasonings behind them, not a view shared by his fellow colleagues whom become trapped by the ever-increasing looting problem.

Finally "Homecoming Day" (directed by David C. Johnson) tells the story of a black family who were caught in the middle of the 1965 Watts riots reliving their terrifying ordeal 27 years later in amidst the LA riots. Although they suffered unimaginable losses in the first riots, they concentrate on what's important in amidst these ones.

Written by ,

Genre: Film

Running Time: 120 minutes (approx)

Production Year: 1997

3/5 Stars

Classification: 18 Certificate

Production Country: USA

Filmed in Colour

Made for TV


Dante Basco...Jeff Lee segment 'Gold Mountain'
Kieu Chinh...Mrs. Lee segment 'Gold Mountain'
Image for MakoMako...Mr. Lee segment 'Gold Mountain'
Image for Alexis CruzAlexis Cruz...Carlos segment 'Caught in the Fever'
Yelba Osorio...Iris segment 'Caught in the Fever'
Image for John OrtizJohn Ortiz...Ciaco segment 'Caught in the Fever'
Douglas Spain...Manuel segment 'Caught in the Fever'
Image for Luke PerryLuke Perry...Boomer segment 'Empty'
Peter Dobson...Chaz segment 'Empty'
Image for Mario Van PeeblesMario Van Peebles...Turner segment 'Homecoming Day'
Melvin Van Peebles...Vernon segment 'Homecoming Day'
Cicely Tyson...Maggie segment 'Homecoming Day'
Derek Basco...Lyle segment 'Gold Mountain'
Phillip Wong...Phil segment 'Gold Mountain'
Ernie Lee Banks...Wino segment 'Gold Mountain'