Lords of the Street


Our subject this week is “Lords of the Street,” which was previously called “Jump Out Boys” for its theatrical release, which turned out not to exist. It stars DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, and the onscreen credit says it was “directed by Mr. V,” whose real name is Amir Valinia. Beware of any movie where the star, the director, and the movie itself work under aliases.

Now, when I say that “Lords of the Street” “stars” DMX, obviously what I mean is that he gets top billing even though he doesn’t show up till it’s half over, plays a character whose purpose and identity are not explained, and only has three minutes of screen time. That is a very cushy gig for someone with top billing. Is DMX perhaps also the executive producer of this movie? In a strange coincidence, YES!

Having discussed the abnormalities in the film’s title, casting, and contractual arrangements, we are obligated now to turn our attention to a far less interesting topic, the actual movie, a cheap-looking “Lethal Weapon”-ish puddle of drool set in New Orleans. The married-with-kids cop who is getting too old for this shiz is Raymond, played by Kris Kristofferson (or, in simplified notation, Kris2tofferson). His young, handsome, unmarried partner is Travis Roundtree, played by a model-turned-actor named Ameer Baraka. Since DMX and Kris Kristofferson are listed first in the credits, and since you have only a vague idea of what DMX looks like (tall, black, slender, bald), and since this Baraka fellow fits the same description, it is possible that you will watch more than 30 minutes of “Lords of the Street” before you realize that the two cops are NOT being played by DMX and Kris Kristofferson. It is even possible that you will have jotted references to “DMX & Kris” in your notes, which you will have to scribble out when DMX actually arrives and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, that’s DMX. I feel like a racist now. I’m not going to tell anyone about this.” Or at least that is the impression I get.

Anyway, Raymond and Travis are “bad boy” cops, the kind of lovable imps who do naughty things like dunking an informant’s head in water to make him talk, or putting a gun in a guy’s mouth to make him open a storage shed without a warrant. Zoing! What cut-ups they are! Their blustery lady boss, Capt. Jeffries (Shanna Forrestall), is always chiding them for their unorthodox methods, their flamboyant style, their flagrant violations of the Constitution, etc. But hey, they get the job done. Capt. Jeffries even says to Travis, “You might be a hothead, but you’re the best damned detective we have on this force!” — yes, those actual words, uttered in the 21st century, not in a parody of cop movies but in an actual cop movie.

The guys are called into action when a notorious druglord named Santiago (Armando Leduc) escapes from prison, which is frowned upon, even in New Orleans. Santiago has to get the $15 million in drug money that he squirreled away before he was arrested and return it to the cartel boss, who is his uncle but will have no problem killing him if he doesn’t produce the cash. (If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all have at least one uncle who has the capacity to murder us.) Santiago doesn’t know where the money is now because the only other person who knew about it was his girlfriend, Maria (Ciera Payton), who later testified against him in court and is therefore a) no longer his girlfriend and b) probably not going to tell him where the money is.

Maria has wisely gone into hiding, but Travis is able to find her, protect her, and have sex with her. This pleases Travis’ landlady, Mrs. Wong, a busybody who is always asking when he’s going to settle down with a nice girl, or, failing that, hook up with a druglord’s traitorous moll. While Travis is handling this aspect of the case, Raymond — and I feel the need to remind you that Raymond is played by a 72-year-old Kris Kristofferson — is busy having frequent sex with his wife, because she is ovulating and trying to conceive. How many times do you think you need to hear Kris Kristofferson having sex? If your answer is zero, you should cover your ears twice during this movie.

Santiago, holed up in a shack somewhere, keeps sending goons out in search of Maria and/or the money. Meanwhile, quite a few other criminals whose names and objectives I didn’t catch have menacing conversations with one another about the whole affair, presumably to add flavor to a movie that is otherwise only about a cop falling in love with a witness while his geriatric partner makes a baby. One of these other bad guys calls DMX on the phone to tell him Santiago broke out. DMX, whose name is Thorn, has a grudge against Santiago, the details of which the movie declines to share because the movie forgot to think up what they were. Thorn’s function is to show up a few times, quote Bible verses, and shoot some dudes. In other words, his function is to let us know that the filmmaker has seen “Pulp Fiction.”

Eventually one of the dudes he shoots is Santiago, whom he also sets on fire, for good measure. Then the movie is over, without the main characters, Travis and Raymond, really having to do anything. I’ll have to check the rules, but this might disqualify “Lords of the Street” from being a movie, in which case let’s forget I brought it up.

— Film.com