Who's in It:
Winson "2Pac" Jean, Wyclef Jean, James "Bily" Petit Frère
The Basics: Haiti's Port-au-Prince slum "Cité Soleil" has been described by the United Nations as one of the most dangerous places on Earth. So, in order to help encourage the kingpin mentality of the two main gang leaders in the area who also happen to be brothers and rivals someone went and made a documentary about them. The two guys in this movie are hip-hop-obsessed wannabe Scarfaces. And they sort of are, just without all that money or the tigers chained up in the back yard.
What's the Deal? I suppose if you were trapped in this lawless hellhole, you'd be forced to deal with it by any means necessary, too just like the men seen here. But the movie's nonjudgmental tone is so pervasive that it actually turns the movie romantic, and the guys come off like murderous folk heroes instead of the trapped victims they really are. What gets it over, in spite of its grim, overwhelming, depressing subject matter, is its chaotic visual sense. You can't stop looking at it no matter how horrifying it gets.
Irritating, Exploitive Awful-Person Alert: French relief worker "Lele" pops in to do some kind of humanitarian work you know, for the children but ends up smoking lots of dope and having sex with one brother while just sexually teasing the other. If this had been a fictional narrative, I'd say she was a one-dimensional, stock-imperialist Bad Woman. But no, she's real.
Irritating Producer Alert: That would be Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, Haitian himself, and purveyor of
well, it's hard to tell. He seems to be on board with the romance angle, too, for some reason. But then again, this is a guy I once saw perform live at the Hollywood Bowl, where he never once finished a song without turning it into a singsong chant of "Smoke dee maree-juana!" No lie, that's what he did on just about every song. So who knows where his mind is at these days.
Amount of Actual Danger the Filmmakers Were In: On a scale of 1 to 10, probably about a 7, but even that seems like too much when one of their subjects looks at them with that dead-eye and says, "I feel like killing you to take the camera."