JJ, an aspiring MC, is on the cusp of wowing the crowds and winning the Urban Slam finals with his lyrical prowess. However there's a problem - he's white, from the countryside, and gay - three things that don't mix well in London's outlaw urban music scene. After outing himself on stage and angering his rivals, the Illford Illmaniacs, they ...more savagely beat his boyfriend Orlando into a state of permanent brain damage. With their lives changed forever, adversity forces all of them to tackle their own perceptions of sexuality, race, and class in ways they never could have imagined. ...less
JJ, an aspiring MC, is on the cusp of wowing the crowds and winning the Urban Slam finals with his lyrical prowess. However there's a problem - he's white, from the countryside, and gay - three things that don't mix well in London's outlaw urban music scene. After outing himself on stage and angering his rivals, the Illford Illmaniacs, they savagely beat his boyfriend Orlando into a state of permanent brain damage. With their lives changed forever, adversity forces all of them to tackle their own perceptions of sexuality, race, and class in ways they never could have imagined.
"This is a WAR, woman!! And YOU want ME to INDULGE in some white boy's privilege to be soft! He was THERE, all up in our club, up in our music, up in our FACE- what did he expect?!?!?" ~prisoner/rapper KKK (Nathan Clough), to visitor Karisma (Jennifer Daley), on why he and his three other black Bashment mates savagely beat up the white gay lover of their top dancehall reggae rival, MC JJ (Joel Dommett).
20 years before screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz decided to script a motion picture depicting the particular experiences and personal journeys of both a Latino drag queen and fresh-faced white kid leading up to the now infamous June 1969 riots in New York City, screenwriter and award-winning playwright Rikki Beadle Blair penned an LGBT film of the same name and same character structure starring Luis Guzman, Isaiah Washington and Aida Turturro, and for a lot less money, too. The plain fact: Roland Emmerich's newly released STONEWALL is a bloated, overpriced remake/reboot. Blair, of British/West Indian origin, is a south Londoner and an accomplished actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, singer, designer, choreographer and songwriter. His screen credits include writing for the cable series NOAH'S ARC, and directing such groundbreaking British LGBT films such as KICKOFF, FIT and today's film, BASHMENT, which had its premiere in Los Angeles at the 2011 OUTFEST Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Adapted from the original Theatre Royal Stratford East production, BASHMENT follows two sets of four friends on a journey of racial anger, homophobic violence, justification of action, punishment, and eventual healing in London's LGBT community. It's actually quite the inverted-yet-balanced opposing dichotomy; the first set of straight males (3 black, one white) are Bashment artists- dancehall reggae rappers- who prove homophobic thugs in a most tragic and violent effrontery towards our second set of gay males (3 white, one black). Eggy, Venom, KKK and White Fang brutally beat up Orlando (Marcus Kai) after a Bashment competition (think the stage slams that Eminem performed at in his 2002 film 8 MILE). Orlando's lover is MC JJ (Dommett), who proves to be the four's top competition. Backstage, a nervous Orlando uses the N-word in a sign of rapper solidarity, which proves a near fatal mistake, and a green flag for our antagonists to reap anti-queer hell! The result is two years in prison for the "real men," and leaves JJ and friends Sam (Arnie Hewitt) and Kevan (Duncan MacInnes) to care for a now severely brain-damaged Orlando. As one group is forced to face the actions of their anger in a 24-month span, the other group is just discovering the rage that dwells within, as JJ trains in kickboxing, and forces the others to do the same as the culprits' release date approaches, vowing to continue their brutal havoc on the gay community once free.
This is a compelling film of the comparisons of both the gay and black communities. During a visit to the prison by JJ, in a last-ditch effort to see if the guys have developed ANY sense of remorse whatsoever, Eggy (Jason Steed), the most violent of the four, states: "See white boy, that's what you ain't been getting! Everyone's a n****r, EVERY last one of us... AND you! Why did you wanna be an MC all the way out there in "cow country," because you WANTED to be a n****r, or because you KNEW you WERE one??" This film takes an astonishing and painful look inside our desires of wanting to fit in, no matter who or where we are. My main criticism, however, is the blatantly over-the-top and, quite frankly, offensive portrayal of a brain-damaged Orlando by actor Marcus Kai. I mean, did he not heed the warnings of TROPIC THUNDER's Kirk Lazarus? A toning down of mannerisms was in order here, Blair, and you as director should've seen it. Other than that, it's TRULY a compelling tale!
Cinematography & Editing
Musical Score & Sound
Stories & Script