Riot

on April 27, 1997 by Ed Scheid
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   "Riot," for which the Showtime network plans to find a domestic distributor before airing it on pay TV, shows the 1992 Los Angeles civil disturbances from four perspectives. A young Chinese man (Dante Basco) is horrified to see the liquor store run by his parents (Mako and "The Joy Luck Club's" Kieu Chinh) destroyed by looters. Caught up in the fever, a young Hispanic feels like "a winner" for the first time in his life and a hero to his family because he can "give" them expensive things. A white policeman (Luke Perry) is horrified at the suppressed rage he encounters after the first Rodney King verdict. A black man desperately tries to save his mother (Cicely Tyson) and a family friend (Melvin Van Peebles) from the violence engulfing his old neighborhood.
    Each of the four vignettes is engrossing. Each filmmaker is of the same ethnic group as the characters of his sequence, lending the film an authenticity as it portrays the viewpoint of each different community. But what makes "Riot" especially powerful is that the stories intersect to emphasize the end result of these racial divisions: The euphoric Hispanics loot the Chinese family's store; the policeman tries to stop the thieving as the black mother's son tries to flee the area. Throughout, the fine ensemble shows the emotional consequences of the destruction.
Starring Dante Basco, Luke Perry and Mario Van Peebles
Directed by Galen Yuen, Alex Munoz, Richard DiLello and David C. Johnson
Executive produced by Harry Winer, Judith A. Polone and Fred Fuchs
Written by Galen Yuen, Joe Vasquez, Richard DiLello and David C. Johnson
A Showtime production; no distributor set.
Dramatic vignettes. Not yet rated.
Running time: 96 min.
Screened at Telluride.
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