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CONDITION RED(director: Mika Kaurismäki; screenwriter: Andre Degas; cinematographer: Ken Kelsch; editor: Suzanne Pillsbury; music: Mauri Sumén; cast: James Russo (Dan Cappelli), Cynda Williams (Gidell) Paul Calderon (Angel Delgado), Victor Argo (Victor Klein), Verrone Romeoletti (Malone), Joey Perillo (Asst. D.A.), Andre Degas (Bishop), Dierdre Lewis (Rose); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Hank Blumenthal/Ken Schwenker; Oak Island Films; 1996-USA/Finland)
“There were good performances, but an illogical story mars the film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki (“LA Without a Map”/”Sound of Brazil”), brother of acclaimed filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, directs this gritty realistic but overblown prison film from a screenplay by Andre Degas. James Russo plays troubled Philadelphia prison guard Dan Cappelli, just transferred to the women’s side because of his history of violence to the inmates. He is seduced by sexy female inmate Gidell (Cynda Williams) and becomes involved in a sexual relationship with the hard-edged temperamental professional singer doing time while protecting her rotten boyfriend Angel (James Calderon) by not ratting him out for money laundering.

The confused guard gets further addled when Gidell’s badass lover mistreats her during a prison visit and goes off on him. This results in a suspension. To ease the pain he begins drinking too much and loses his self-control. When Gidell tells him she is pregnant, he helps her escape. Then things go from bad to worse, as he’s in trouble with the prison authorities and her boyfriend is after him.

There were good performances, but an illogical story mars the film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”