Wednesday, September 08, 2010
GORDON'S WAR (1973)
I was excited to see this rare Blaxploitation action film for many reasons. Starring the fine actor Paul Winfield and directed by another fine actor Ossie Davis I had high hopes for a tough tale of vigilante justice on the mean streets of Harlem. I really liked Davis' COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1972) and I considered this the next in a possible string of engaging and sly urban stories helmed by him. Looking at the cast I expected a film with often underused actors getting to show their talent and having fun playing badasses doling out harsh judgment to scum of every type. Sadly, I found GORDON'S WAR to be a disjointed, sloppy and ultimately frustrating film. I can't completely dismiss it because of some good scenes, excellent New York location shooting and its cool score but it never really works. The storytelling is confused leaving the feeling that parts of the film were cut out or never filmed making things jump forward randomly and then pause unexpectedly.
The truth is that its not an exciting film for the most part. Several action scenes that would sound great on paper are rendered in a flat, dull way with no tension or spark. For this I have to lay the blame at the director's feet. I don't think Ossie Davis was cut out for this type of story. I'm not sorry I caught up with the movie but its not an unsung classic of the era.