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Chi-Raq (2015)

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A modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.

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5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dolmedes
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Father Mike Corridan
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General King Kong
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Mayor McCloud
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Morris
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Old Duke
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Commissioner Blades
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Chief Riptide
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Rasheeda
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Marcy
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Storyline

After the murder of a child by a stray bullet, a group of women led by Lysistrata organize against the on-going violence in Chicago's Southside creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.

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Taglines:

No peace, no piece. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama | Musical

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, nudity, language, some violence and drug use | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

2 December 2016 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Чирак  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,198,356 (USA) (4 December 2015)

Gross:

$2,647,377 (USA) (22 January 2016)
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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though he is not mentioned or credited, Vic Mensa has a cameo in the movie as the rapper rapping along with Nick Cannon's character Chi-Raq at the beginning of the movie. Vic Mensa is a rapper from Chicago, where the movie takes place. See more »

Goofs

At the end when the peace signing ceremony is being conducted all the parties involved are on one side of the signing table which is in front of them between the seats of the amphitheater with all the visible seats empty. See more »

Quotes

Dolmedes: Lysistrata had them all take a solemn oath: "Stop the murder madness or there will be no more po." That's right, you get none.
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Connections

References Foxy Brown (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Contradiction
Written by Kortney Pollard, Sunny Ibrahim, and Jhene Aiko (as Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo)
Published by Mali Music Notes/6 Kolbert Drive/Sony/ATV Tunes LLC (ASCAP), Stellar Songs Ltd/Sony ATV Music Publishing and Songs of Universal Inc (BMI)
Performed by Mali Music
Produced by Sunny Ibrahim for Avant Guard Music
Used courtesy of ByStorm Entertainment/RCA Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
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User Reviews

 
"Chi-Raq" is the gutsiest, more entertaining and most important Spike Lee Joint yet.
5 December 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Talk is cheap. Just ask anyone who decries the most recent example of gun violence in the news, but is frustrated by the lack of governmental or societal action to prevent future incidents. Or talk with the family and friends of anyone killed by a firearm. Of course, few groups in our society understand the problem better than African Americans, who are twice as likely as whites to be killed by guns. And few cities in the U.S. understand better than Chicago, where rates of shooting deaths are proportionally higher than in New York and L.A., and where there are more mass shootings than any other city in the U.S. In fact, from 2003 to 2011 there were almost as many homicides in Chicago as U.S. Servicemembers killed in Iraq (4267 vs. 4485). Numbers like this have led some to refer to Chicago as Chi-Raq. Legendary director Spike Lee's 2015 film "Chi-Raq" (R, 1:58) builds upon this idea, but it does a lot more than talk.

As a way of calling attention to the high rate of gun violence in the U.S. – and the need for action – Lee has co-written (along with Kevin Willmott), directed and produced a movie that entertains, informs and motivates, using a wider variety of elements than I can ever remember seeing in a major motion picture. The basic story comes from the play "Lysistrata" by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. The script is street talk, often set to verse in a way that would be familiar to Aristophanes or Shakespeare. Lee makes artistic decisions to use an on-camera narrator (Samuel L. Jackson) and have characters occasionally looking straight into the camera while talking to others, as he mixes drama, humor, eroticism, parody and song-and-dance numbers to deal with the deadly serious issue of inner city gun violence. As confused as all that might sound, this is actually a focused movie with a strong narrative.

In the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, two rival gangs, the Spartans and the Trojans, are at war. Sometimes they injure or even kill each other and sometimes innocent bystanders fall victim to the violence. Designer eye patch-wearing gangbanger Cyclops (Wesley Snipes) is the leader of the Trojans, while a rapper called Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon) runs the Spartans. When the young daughter of an Englewood resident named Irene (Jennifer Hudson) is killed by a stray bullet and "nobody saw nothing'", some of the young women in the community take action. Encouraged by an older woman called Miss Helen (Angela Bassett), Chi-Raq's girlfriend, Lysistrata (Teyonah Paris) does some reading and formulates the plan that is inspired by Aristophanes' play (and which actually worked in Liberia in 2003).

Lysistrata gets her friends together with the girlfriends and wives from the rival gang and they all agree to a sex strike in order to force their men to abandon the tragic pattern of gang violence. The film's poster displays the women's motto (mostly) accurately as "No Peace, No Piece". (Although they actually use a different word that starts with "p" in place of the word "piece".) The men aren't happy about being denied physical affection, but they don't take the protest seriously… at first. Women throughout the city sign on in solidarity and the sex strike starts spreading well beyond Chicago. Then, to help drive their point home, the Chicago women take over a local Army National Guard arsenal (similar to actions taken by the women in Aristophanes' play). Everyone from the neighborhood priest (John Cusack) to the mayor of Chicago (D.B. Sweeney) try to help negotiate and/or force an end to the sex strike, but the women hold firm to their principles and continue to move straight forward with their piece plan.

In lesser hands, "Chi-Raq" could have been an unwatchable mess, but Lee makes it work. He seamlessly brings together the movie's disparate elements and different film-making styles. Contrary to what some critics say about this particular Spike Lee Joint, "Chi-Raq" doesn't cheapen or make light of the problem that it exists to address. Lee and his actors alternately entertain us with very funny lines and sight gags as well as music and dancing, while also bringing us scenes of realistic drama and heartbreak. While many of the film's moments successfully get and keep our attention, others are equally powerful at inspiring us to act. The tactic of the sex strike is obviously not meant to be taken literally as a magical solution to the problem of gun violence, but it effectively conveys the film's overarching message that SOMETHING has to be done, and well-intentioned people need to be willing to do WHATEVER it takes to stop the killing. "Chi-Raq" is quite simply a brilliant film and may be the gutsiest, best and most important work of Spike Lee's career. "A+"


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