This film takes a rather interesting approach to engaging the audience. While some films feature "bad guys" who the audience actively root for and hope will succeed due to their charming personalities, humorous nature, etc... this film takes a one hundred and eighty degree turn from that notion. Knowing that its two lead characters are unlikeable, corrupt cops, writer/director Jim Kouf turns the tables and has the audience root for the detectives' downfall. Instead of hoping that the cops will be smart enough to con their way out of their messy predicament, the audience hopes they'll be caught despite their efforts. Surprisingly, this tactic works rather well. Our preview audience got a kick out of watching their plan fall apart all around them like a boulder rolling downhill -- slowly at first and then gaining more and more momentum.
Of course the film isn't a comedy, but a great deal of the film's enjoyment is watching the characters and their plan unravel. Beyond that interesting tactic, the film is also more clever than it appears on the surface, with interesting characterizations and a wickedly violent, but appropriately clever and fitting ending. Despite the grim sounding story, there are funny moments -- some hilarious bits of dialogue and a few scenes that will inspire some laughs -- that are needed to lighten up the film's atmosphere. Belushi is good -- but certainly not likeable -- in his role as the caustically corrupt cop. Shakur, in his final film appearance (he was shot to several years ago) also delivers a competent, if somewhat reserved performance. He's nowhere near as good as he was in the 1996 film, "Gridlock'd," however, that proved he could have had a bright future in the movies. The rest of the cast is good and Dennis Quaid is nearly unrecognizable during early parts of the film.
Although this film has nothing to do with gangs, despite the title, it is the sort of movie that initially seems to be moderately entertaining when watching it, but grows on you after you've left the theater. Kouf has taken a well used -- if perhaps nearly overused -- plot and added enough "fun" and inventiveness to it that its sum is truly greater than its individual scenes. While certainly not for all audiences, this film will please those looking for a unique approach to the corrupt cop movie. We give "Gang Related" a 6.5 out of 10.