Saturday, March 16, 2013

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood

This is it, the final film in the never ending Leprechaun film series. You’d think after the last film dropped the ball completely, at least in my opinion, the makers of the franchise would attempt to go in another direction for part 6. Apparently they did at first and the plan was to set the film on a tropical island during spring break, but the suits at Lion’s Gate (the new owners of the property) wanted to return to the ghetto setting instead. And thus Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood was born.

When a couple of twenty-something urban youths (Tangi Miller and Laz Alonso) find a chest filled with gold coins, the evil Leprechaun returns from the grave to claim what is rightfully his.
I don’t know why the movies in this series that are divisible by three always end up being the most watchable ones, but it’s the way things worked out. Part 6 is a fun, and somewhat racist, horror comedy.

This time the Leprechaun is made to look a little more menacing, but all that is kicked to the curb by all the pratfalls and visual sight gags he participates in. There’s a scene where he shares a bong with a guy at a party and gets a terminal case of the giggles, followed by a hysterical bit in a kitchen as he attempts to find some food to satiate his munchies and gets locked in the fridge instead. Out of all the movies in this series I think I laughed the hardest at this one because the writers finally decided to go for broke and make fun of the fact that the lead character is a dwarf with a penchant for off-the-wall limericks and wanton violence. He rips the leg off a cop at one point, and the poor guy hops after him while saying “Give that back!” Tears. In my eyes. Seriously.
The violence has also been amped up and the Leprechaun is shown to be a lot more aggressive as well. He leaps at his victims and tears at their throats with his claws more than once, chokes out a woman getting a massage, stabs a dude in the chest with a bong, rips out someone’s heart, shreds a girl’s belly open and tears off someone’s jaw so he can steal their gold tooth. It’s done in a humorous way and isn’t too gory.

The acting is improved here as well. Don’t get me wrong, the acting is still pretty bad, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it was in previous installments. Laz Alonso, who went on to become a pretty successful actor (Avatar, Fast & Furious, Jarhead) does a decent job as the male lead and has a good chemistry with his co-star Tangi Miller. The secondary characters, played by Page Kennedy and Sherrie Jackson, are fun as well and give some nice comic relief moments.
As par the course Warwick Davis is a blast as the Leprechaun once again. It took me a while to realize this, but the guy is a naturally gifted comedian. His all-time best moments in the series come from this movie, from his marijuana induced giggle fit, his slapstick kitchen scene and the supremely funny booty call he receives (“How tall am I? Uh, about 3 foot 6. Yeah, but, but, I make up for it in other areas, if you know what I mean.”). If it weren’t for him none of these movies would even be remotely watchable.

Then there’s the whole racist angle. According to the writer/director, Steven Ayromlooi, all African Americans in the ghetto want to BBQ, sell drugs, gangbang, get their hair did, live off welfare, have gold teeth and toke up. I’ve never lived in the ghetto so I can’t comment on if that rings true or not, but these are all highly stereotypical characterizations that I’m sure would offend anyone. What do the main players do once they find the gold? They spend the money on bling, drug paraphernalia, hookers and partying. For characters that whine about wanting to get out of the hood they sure as hell don’t seem all that interested in bettering their situation once they have the means to do so. But the crown jewel is the “ninja” stuff. You have no idea how hard I laughed when Kennedy’s stoner character tells Alonso’s character that no one in the hood uses the “N-word” anymore… they use “ninja”. Therefore for the rest of the movie you’ll hear people saying “That’s my ninja!”, “Ninja please!” or “You my ninja”. I cracked up when the Leprechaun said “What’s up my ninja?” to a group of gang bangers.
The production values are greatly improved here, as are the CGI and make-up effects. It looks like the filmmakers were either given a decent budget for a change or just knew how to successfully cover up the fact that they had very little money at their disposal. Whatever the case may be the film has a nice look to it, it’s colorful and is shot extremely well.

I will add that a little backstory on the Leprechaun character was greatly appreciated. There’s an animated prologue at the top of the film that tells the story of how back in the day a king called upon magical imps to help protect his gold from invading realms, and once he died all the elves returned to the forest except one that was particularly greedy… our Leprechaun. It was also nice to see the rainbow lore added into the mix as well.
As bad as some of the films in this series are, I was sad when this one ended because it is most certainly the  best of them all. I had a ton of fun with this entry and am glad to say that the franchise went out on a high note. Kudos to all involved in my favorite film in the series, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood!

3.5 out of 5

Leprechaun Films: Favorite to Least Favorite
1. Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood
2. Leprechaun 3
3. Leprechaun 4: In Space
4. Leprechaun
5. Leprechaun 2
6. Leprechaun in the Hood

p.s. There is a reboot in the works called Leprechaun: Origins that is rumored to star Dylan Postl, also known as Hornswaggle in the WWE, as the title character.

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