Re: RARA-AVIS: The New Pulp Fiction?

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 13 Nov 2000

I read The Street Sweeper. And I've got a problem with it, too. However, that problem isn't that it is too violent or that it glorifies crime or any of the usual complaints. It's that it just isn't very good.

First of all, it is a pretty blatant rip-off of John Woo's The Killer
(Hell, the protagonist even has a poster of Woo's Hardboiled in his wall): an innocent is accidentally injured because of Hit Man; he sets out to make it right; he must do one more hit to pay for an operation. Now that in and of itself is not really a problem. Any fan of Hong Kong film can't have too much of a problem with borrowing, no matter how extensive (and I liked God Is A Bullet even though it owes at least as much to The Searchers as this does to The Killer, or the Killer to Le Samourai, for that matter). Unfortunately, Ronin Ro cops the plot outline, but renders it poorly. Major characters do things for which there is absolutely no plausible explanation. Just two: even if the mother of the kid who got shot does eventually come to believe Usher isn't really all bad, why would she have gotten romantically involved with him in the first place; there is never even a hint about why there a huge open contract of the City Councilman, or why he's so hard to hit. Ro doesn't even try to explain major inconsistencies, just offers an extreme take on the maxim (Chandler's?) that whenever the story lags, send someone in with a gun, but switches it to whenever something doesn't make sense, throw bullets.

Perhaps the offerings will get better, both Joel Rose and Gary Phillips are in line, but this one is not an impressive debut for a company hoping to be the new Holloway House. Ronin Ro sure ain't Iceberg Slim or Donald Goines.


ps -- I did find the positive reference to the movie Blade (which I also enjoyed) amusing given that its star Wesley Snipes has money in the book company.

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