C47Houston Flix Review:

"Gang Money Run"

Original Title: “Mahogany Sunrise”



With dreams of playing his music, an IT Professional  stumbles upon a dead body in a restaurant restroom. Shocked and about to call for help, he spots a duffle bag full of cash. Thinking that no one will notice, this want-to-be musician slips out of the restaurant with the bag of money, but not unnoticed by the people that want the money back. Now running for his life, he is being hunted by a gang lords hit-men. But who is hunting who? 

Written by San Antonio's R. Scott Leisk, the story follows Jackson Schultz (played by Wesley Blake), an IT professional who dreams of one day doing what he loves to do, play his guitar and sing songs from the heart. After discussing some options with a friend of his at a local restaurant, Jackson goes to the restroom and stumbles onto a dead body. Shocked and perplexed, Jackson is about to call out for help when he notices a duffle bag full of cash. It’s the type of money where dreams are made of and created. Jackson grabs the bag and silently slips out of the restaurant.  While he is walking out and unbeknownst to him two organized crime hit-men are looking for this dead man who absconded with the cash and they are intent on getting it back, at all cost. On the way out, Jackson passes one of the hit men, Lester Freemont (played by Craig Rainey). The hit man discovers the dead body but not the money.  When the other hit man, Vincent Morelli (played by Larry Sands) waiting in the car, spots unusual activity at Jackson’s car, they start to hunt him down.

With his new found fortune, Jackson invites his best friend, John Morrison (played by Drew Whelpley), to a strip club where they have the time of their lives and meet Mercedes Salinas (played by Denise Downs) a burlesque dancer at the club. When the hit men come in, they start asking questions about the money. When not convinced trouble ensues and both Jackson and John head out the back door where they bump into Mercedes getting into her car. Desperate they seek help from this unsuspecting and kind woman. The drug lord (played by Elmo Ramos) is dissatisfied with the results and not getting his money, calls up the local gangsters under his charge and puts out the word that he wants his money back. The leader of the local gang, Chato (played by Jesse Campos) is the ex-boyfriend off Mercedes and is the father of their only child Melissa (played by Lauren Montemayor). Now two teams of gangsters are in pursuit of Jackson, John, Mercedes and the money. Jackson Schultz must now run for his life in order to keep the money. Twists and turn, this action adventure motion picture will keep you glued to your seat.

A decent story by Mr. Leisk, there were some holes in the plot and the viewer was, somewhat, filling in the gaps as to what happened, but over-all the movie was interesting and fun to watch.  Personally, when it comes to get-rich-quick and find a bag of money stories I have to let go of my belief's that, in the end, the good guys will win and that the bad guys will lose. The story flowed nicely as it progressed and transitions from one act to another was unremarkable, except for the plot holes and gaps, mentioned earlier.  I think the ending was a bit far-fetched and, of course, it was a happy ending, reaffirming the "good" in good deeds. 

On the technical side of movie making, this was a nicely constructed movie. Sound was good and lighting was decent. Behind the camera as cinematographer is Amza Moglan who did a great job in making sure this movie.....look like a movie. Blocking was outstanding as were his movement of camera and the composition of each scene...it was a picture. Mr. Moglan has some interesting and creative shots in this movie. (IMDB:  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3005273/  ) More importantly, the movie was in focus. (This seems to be a problem with independent movies...go figure) 

Editing was done by Aaron Lee Lopez. Transitions were seamless and cuts were unnoticeable. His editing flowed very nicely from scene to scene as the movie progressed. He did a great job in making sure the audience was glued to their seats. (IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1883831/ )

Casting was complimentary. All of the actors "fit" within the movie and with each other. I don't think there was a "mis-cast" in the selection of actors. We did have a problem with the voice of hit man Lester Freemont (played by Craig Rainey) According to the director, his actual voice was manipulated during post to give him a much deeper and overly rich baratone sound ( a move suggested by the higher ups for distribution) WE think the move to lower the characters tone was a bit too far and it didn't quite work to improve the character. You couldn't help but say something about it, as most of the cast and crew at the screening did. But, saying that...all of the actors did a great job in there performances. 

Costumes and wardrobe by Vikki Tonge, she did an excellent job in visualizing costumes and wardrobe that complimented each of the actors and at the same time individualized each of the characters in the movie.  Actually, the wardrobe wasn't flashy or colorful. mostly  earth tones, which worked for this type of Action/Adventure movie.

Directed by San Antonio's R. Scott Leisk, whom at one time grew up in Houston, AND, his directorial feature motion picture, Mr. Leisk did  an amazing job for this first feature movie.  Mr. Leisk was able to gather and utilize all of the elements of the filmmaking process, to be used in this movie, and create a vision of what the story ought to look like on the big screen. Was it intense? Not really, but, at the same time, it wasn't a boring movie. Was it entertaining? Indeed it was. Of course, like any movie, there is that bridge where the story slows down, regroups and/or just transitions. The director was able to assemble a talented crew of moviemakers, all of whom, lent their skills in helping to create this movie.  Mr. Leisk was able to move the actors to perform brilliantly. In some of the scenes he was able to get sublime emotions from this pool of talent. The Director's vision of the story was an entertaining sequence of events and happenstance that leads the viewer to a happy ending. 

Keep an eye on this director and everyone involved with this project because we will. There is no doubt that this group of filmmakers are going to make another project that will thrust them into distribution and contracts. This is Mr. Leisk's first feature independent movie and it was good and entertaining. We have seen a lot of "firsts" and "Gang Money Run" is up there.

Don't believe in our assessment? Pick up/order the movie and watch it for yourself. It's available online on Amazon, NetFlix and a variety of other online distribution services.   

C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine went to the Houston Premiere and rated this feature motion pictures a 4.6 out of 5 stars on the TSIRS scale.  Our recommendation to other indie movie makers is to watch this movie and learn something. 

Released April 5th 2014

Originally titled: “Mahogany Sunrise”

Houston Premiere: Monday, July 20th, 2015 at the Studio Movie Grill-CityCentre, Houston, TX.

Official Selection of the 6th Underground Cinema Film Festival, 2015 / Platinum Remi Award Winner at the 47th Annual Worldfest Houston International Independent Film Festival, 2014 in the category of Theatrical Feature Film & Video Award in “Action/Adventure”

Production Company: Mutt Productions

Writer: R. Scott Leisk

Directed by: R. Scott Leisk

Music by Brandon Keropian Olmos

Cinematographer: Amza Moglan

Edited by Aaron Lee Lopez

Production Design by: Mark Muller

Set Decoration by Mark Muller

Second Unit Director: Rosalva Gonzalez

Art by: Mark Muller

Sound by: Brandon Keropian Olmos

Stunts by: Jesse Campos

Stunt Coordinator: Chance Hartman

Stunt Performer: Josh Vinyard

D.I.T: Randy Delgado

Gaffer/Grip: Dejan Potkrajac

Location Managers: Johhny Luna and Andrew Saldana

Burlesque Choreographer: Vikki Tong/Vikki Fahreheit

Casting includes: Wesley Blake, Denise Downs, Jesse Campos, Drew Whelpley, Craig Rainey, Larry Sands, Sandra Nori, Lauren Montemayor, Alex Moglan, Elmo Ramos, Jean Marie Konieczny, Clint Hansen, Jamye Cox, Jennifer Sydney, Brian Douglas, Lupe Trejo, Elias Ramon, Mike Roberts, Glaxta Sarao, Jessica Robinson, Mike Melendez, Johnny Luna, Brandon Keropian Olmos, Gilberto "Ghetto Bird" Bahena, Mauricio "Bit Moe" Gutierrez, Jake Jecmenek, John Fletcher and Hayley Vrana.

Official Website: http://www.gangmoneyrun.com/ 

IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2385952/

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/GangMoneyRun

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GangMoneyRun/

Trailers: http://youtu.be/rqG8GDU9zuQ?hd=1 , http://youtu.be/a5pg2B26aHw

Reviewed by H.Luna, C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine August 8th, 2015 © 2008-2015 All Rights Reserved 




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