La Soga: Revenge thriller in the Dominican hood

<i>La Soga</i>: Revenge thriller in the Dominican hood
Manny Perez as Luisito in La Soga

Suspiciously employing the same thug flashiness, upbeat nouveau-ethnic soundtrack, and glamorously shot poverty found in fellow shantytown raves City of God and Sin Nombre, director Josh Crook's straightforward revenge thriller also shares those films' aesthetic aim: to find the tonal overlap between brutality and elegance. If La Soga feels neither gritty nor poignant enough to hit that sweet spot, it's not for lack of sincerity. Writer, coproducer, and star Manny Perez alone brings a soulful charisma to the lead role of Luisito, an eager assassin for the Santiago secret police who demonstrates no mercy toward the drug dealers who reign over the sweaty slums. (Crook shot the film in real crime-infested Dominican hoods.) In too many parallel flashbacks with too frequent ham-fisted pig imagery, we learn of Luisito's path from innocent butcher's son to avenging loner forever hunting the man who murdered his father. His street nickname, "La Soga," refers to the noose around a slaughterhouse oinker's neck, and the subgenre's clichéd two-way street of corruption and redemption predictably sees our antihero finding liberation in a childhood sweetheart while facing down the crooked lawman who led him to a life of transgression.

 
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