The King of Paper Chasin’ (2010) – By Josh Samford

The crime film by its own nature is duplicitous and tricky to nail down. If you do all of the right things, you can create a film that speaks to a massive volume of people from all walks of life. However, if you get it wrong your film can be seen as being pretentious and manipulative. The pitfalls of the genre are plentiful, to the point of being nearly as difficult as comedy and just as dependent on the film goer in terms of judgment. The King of Paper Chasin’ walks the fine line between both fields, as it goes about delivering a deeply processed narrative structure but then it is also highly dedicated to being a street-level crime film that limits it in many ways in terms of dramatic material. An interesting watch, The King of Paper Chasin’ is a crime film that definitely establishes its voice and may just end up finding its own audience.

Carte Blanche (Dwayne "D.L." Clark) is a burgeoning rap artist who is selling his mix tapes in such massive volume that even established artists on major record labels can’t quite keep up. Blanche, who still hustles on the street and deals in narcotics, has teamed up with his friend and manager Dell who has taken his career to even greater heights. Blanche’s good friend Uglyman however might soon bring a monkey-wrench in the midst of their friendship. Recent released from prison, Uglyman enters into the situation like a stick of dynamite and produces a tremendous amount of drama amidst this triangle. While Blanche deals with this, he also has to deal with his lover who is informing on him with an FBI agent and setting him for a fall.

The first thing that sticks out about The King of Paper Chasin’ is the technical quality of it. This movie really does look fantastic. The photography is done supremely well and the filmmakers do a great job at hiding any kind of budgetary restrictions they may have faced. The film does a good job at representing Carte Blanche as this massively popular hip hop entrepreneur and although they obviously couldn’t afford to have him mobbed by extras on street corners, you do totally understand this character’s wealth and status due mainly to the performances and the clever use of the film’s budget. The use of lighting, color and filters really gives the movie polish and for the content it works perfectly for what the filmmakers were hoping to represent.

The second real standout as far as technical merits go would certainly come from the dialogue. I have to give the filmmakers credit as the dialogue really walks that line between realistic performances that almost imitate improvisation and witty banter that verges on hyper stylized Quentin Tarantino-esque dialogue. It is a mix of both worlds and I have to commend it for that. The movie on the whole is rather clever, I will give it that. There is definitely a starting point for these characters and by the end of the movie the resolution has changed our entire outlook for everything that has happened previously. The narrative is key to the movie and it is what ultimately leaves me with a favorable opinion of the movie.

What problems I do have with the movie could be considered personal. I found that the character of Carte Blanche never really evoked any sympathy or interest within me. This character that we are saddled with throughout the movie is a superficial superman of sorts. At no time is Carte Blanche out of control of his situation, at no point does he ever make a fool of himself and at no point does he ever seem human or fallible. He is a street level tough guy with the business mind of a Wall Street millionaire. You could say that crime movies of this sort have a long history with supermen or mythical heroes, but Michael Corleone at times lost his composure and was often distraught at the stress of his family business. Carlito Brigante was a nervous wreck throughout Carlito’s Way. Henry Hill became a drug addled mess during the last half of Goodfellas. Do I even have to mention the drug educed psychosis of Scarface? If you have no problem with an impenetrable mastermind being the lead in your crime cinema, then perhaps this won’t bother you.

The movie has its issues, there is no denying that. As it is, I definitely think its an interesting little slice of modern crime cinema. Some will like it, some will not but if you are wanting a modern urban gangster movie – you could certainly find worse out there. If you want to read more about the movie, you can read the official website at http://kingofpaperchasin-themovie.com