"Rooftops" is one of many urban genre films to come out in the 80's, when hip hop music became more mainstream, raising interest in crime infested ghetto life. Movies like this one, and "Beat Street," "Breakin," and "Krush Groove" were popular at the box office. "Rooftops" is an uneven film, in that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. At first it seems like a family-friendly movie, a light musical comedy with the goofy dancing and over the top ghetto stereotypes and fashions. But after the deceptively light introduction, things take a darker turn when the cast starts dropping "f-bombs' and little kids start getting thrown off roofs to their deaths by crack dealers. "Rooftops" does feature some fantastic location filming of New York City's infamous Lower East Side before the gentrification of the entire area. Throughout the 1980's the L.E.S. was overrun with abandoned buildings. These empty apartment buildings were often occupied, illegally, by homeless people in need of shelter. But when the gangs moved in and started taking over these buildings and using them for their drug trade, a kind of war erupted between drug cartels and residents of the area. for a time it was like the Wild West, with shootouts between rival gangs from Brazil and Puerto Rico, trying to take over the drug trade. "Rooftops' tells the story of a group of young people who are trying to hold onto their home, as a violent drug cartel, led by the ruthless Lobo, are trying to take over the neighborhood and use the empty buildings for their crack operation. For those interested in this dark time in NYC history, "Rooftops' can be quite interesting. It's unfortunate that the filmmakers didn't have the courage to tell a more straightforward story, but chose to attempt to sugar coat the production with some unnecessary "dance fighting" nonsense in the beginning of the movie, but thankfully they dispel with all that silliness soon enough, when the real fighting and shooting begins. Although Jason Gedrick is the main focus, the character that really makes the film worth watching is the little Spanish kid "Squeak,' with his attitude and grafittied coat, he completely makes the movie excel in every scene he is in. By no means is "Rooftops" a classic, but it has enough grit and historical significance to make it a very worthwhile Urban crime drama. It makes a great companion piece with "Mixed Blood," another movie filmed around the wreckage of the Lower East Side and dealing with the same subject matter. "Rooftops" is not as good as that Paul Morrissey masterpiece, but it's much better than the lousy "Alphabet City," a movie that makes the L.E.S look like a Hollywood soundstage. Finding a copy of "Rooftops' isn't easy. As of this writing the very limited dvd is long out of print, and there doesn't seem to be any plans for a Bluray release. That dvd goes for big money on the internet, which is an indication that there is a cult following for this seemingly forgotten 80's gem.
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
A skilled young street fighter battles criminals across the rooftops of New York City.
February 12, 2021