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July 2008
CHOP SHOP DVD

by Kam Williams

CHOP SHOP
DVD Review


Distributor: Koch Lorber Films
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Starring: Alejandro Polanco, Isamar Gonzales, Carlos Zapata, Ahmad Razvi, Rob Sowulski
Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: July 8, 2008
Running time: 84 minutes

   

 

 

 

 

End of Innocence Flick Arrives on DVD

Siblings Ale (Alejandro Polanco) and Isamar (Isamar Gonzales) are orphans forced by circumstances to fend for themselves in an industrial section of New York City known as the Iron Triangle. Located in the shadow of Shea Stadium, this sprawling Queens neighborhood is comprised of nothing but acre after acre of junkyards, scrap heaps, garbage dumps and auto-body repair garages.

Kids grow up fast and living in such a godforsaken environment and, even though he’s only 12, Ale works full-time in a chop-shop, a front where stolen cars are purchased, quickly disassembled to be sold for parts. He’s also sees himself as the man of the family, and is very protective of his 16 year-old big sister with whom he shares a one-room dive above the shop. It ain’t much, but it’s home.

He even found a job for her as a cook in a mobile food canteen catering to folks employed in the area.

Despite their dire circumstances, Ale still dreams of going into business with his sis as the owners of their own deli van. However, Isamar, a budding beauty, is already attracting men interested in her for the wrong reasons. She discovers a way to make some fast money, although Ale is unprepared to handle it emotionally when he and his pal, Carlos (Carlos Zapata), catch her in a compromising position.

So unfolds Chop Shop, an engaging end-of-innocence flick directed by Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart). What makes this film fascinating is that it’s hard to know whether what you’re watching is acting or just a slice-of-life documentary. Consequently, you might start to feel uncomfortable to see children with such a hard knock life involved in so much antisocial and immoral adult behavior, whether they be thespians or hooligans.

Little Orphan Annie Latino-style, with an Oliver Twist.