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Illegal Tender
DVD disk
Jan 3, 2008 By: Mathew Plale
Illegal Tender order
Director:
Franc. Reyes

Actors:
Rick Gonzalez
Wanda De Jesus
Dania Ramirez

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Wilson De Leon, Jr. (Rick Gonzalez) lives a normal life with his mother (Wanda De Jesus) and half-brother...until the thugs that killed his father come to town.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Like most aspiring New York genre-mongers, writer/director Franc. Reyes flaunts his studies of the classics; window-shootings ala The Godfather, Pt. II and enough gats-and-cash to wet Tony Montana’s beak litter his sophomore effort. In its prologue, Illegal Tender (whatever that means) shows a soon-to-be father gunned down by a duo of busty hitwomen who flaunt their areolas as brashly as their Magnums. I was ready to stamp it “Gratuitous” and be done with it; but no, Reyes threw us a curveball in the form of plot.

The family of the man hightails it out of the Bronx, taking residence in Connecticut (a family day-trip to some). Why not pack the U-Haul to somewhere further, like Idaho? Because shootouts will always look “cooler” on freshly-cut lawns than in vacant potato fields.

The oldest son, Wilson DeLeon, Jr. (Rick Gonzalez), who through tiresome crosscutting, was born the moment his father died. Twenty-one years later, Wilson, Jr. is found hitting the books instead of the street, sporting a 4.0 and a gorgeous girlfriend (Dania Ramirez). And then his father’s shadow lightens when the bad guys stroll into town to collect their debt.

John Singleton sits at the reins here as producer. With his knack for the urban saga, he may be the best-suited to hire the crew and sign the checks, but Tender lacks any of the originality and realism his other projects (Boyz n the Hood his 1st Prize) brought. Reyes doesn’t help either, clinging to his debut Empire, itself a flashy Latino/Bronx tale.

Sure, Illegal Tender is slick looking, especially in the designated nightclub scenes, but with no star-power to keep ‘Eject’ far from our minds, the budget has to go somewhere—and Singleton’ll be damned before he shells out for needed rewrites.
THE EXTRAS
Deleted Scenes (9:15): These three deleted scenes focus on Ana’s worried mother, another with Wilson/Ana, and a moment of realization between Ana and Millie.

Making of…(21:26): Nothing more than your standard making of… here, with the cast/crew seeing their movie as more important than it really is. On-set footage and interviews throughout.

And Music Videos.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I was surprised to find Illegal Tender (whatever that means...) wasn't a STV release. It went under my radar...until sneaking its way into my mailbox. Make sure it doesn't reach yours.
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