review by Bobby Blakey
It’s been so great seeing more diversity in Hollywood and with the superhero genre of course they are going to be at the forefront. The latest El Chicano starring Raúl Castillo, Aimee Garcia, Jose Pablo Cantillo, David Castañeda, Marco Rodríguez, Sal Lopez, Marlene Forte with Kate del Castillo and George Lopez with director Ben Hernandez Bray at the helm and Joe Carnahan producing a script co-written by them both, looks to bring a new dark hero for the Hispanic community. Could this be the hero they need or will it fail to bring balance to the barrio?
El Chicano follows L.A.P.D. Detective Diego Hernandez who is assigned a career-making case investigating a vicious cartel where he uncovers links to his brother's supposed suicide and a turf battle that's about to swallow his neighborhood. Torn between playing by the book and seeking justice, he resurrects the masked street legend El Chicano. Now, out to take down his childhood buddy turned gang boss, he sets off a bloody war to defend his city and avenge his brother's murder. The gritty tone to this film offers up an old school vibe that works for the most part, but is dragged down a bit by some of the pacing.
There are some great elements here making for what could have been a great vigilante origin story, but for all its good there is struggle. I really enjoyed the set up with an urban legend of the vigilante making him feel bigger than just one man. His overall look is simple but effective making him standout in a memorable way. When the story shifts focus to taking on the mantel it takes so long to get there it struggles to keep interest. Make no mistake it still works, but I felt it just needed to be trimmed down a bit to keep it moving.
Where I wish they had taken more time was with the training to take over as El Chicano, but they bypass any kind of montage and rushed the transition kind of quickly. Had they trimmed down some of the random discussions and added to the intensity of his training it would have added to the excitement that it needed. The action that is here though is great with some awesome fights and shootouts that brings out the best this film has to offer. The cast are all good and I love seeing the always great George Lopez do different kinds of roles.
In the end this is one of those films that reminded me of the old school action films of the 90s in the best way. Is it flawless no, but it offers up a new take on a familiar property and gives the Hispanic culture their own new hero or sorts to build on. Not sure how well this will do, but it is clearly setting up for more adventures should it connect well with audiences. Get out there and decided for yourself and support films like this that is bringing something different and cultures to the masses.