the-streets-review

Riding Shotgun: 'The Streets' Brings New Eyes To The Gangs Of New York City's Chinatown

Through a series of online episodes, 'The Streets' aims to tell the real stories of Chinatown gangs in the Big  Apple.  

VIBE recently spent an afternoon with rising actor Richie Ng, one of the stars of the new online drama series, The Streets. He acts, yes, but he isn't your average, run-of-the-mill thespian. As a teen, he spent the majority of his adolescence behind bars, and has never set foot in an acting school. These might sound like roadblocks to most, but the charismatic New Yorker has never let anything stand in the way of his dreams.

Richie is a presence wherever he goes.

He can't really help it, but when he steps into a room, everyone takes notice. The upcoming actor doesn't even need to open his mouth to catch the attention of overs. There's an aura that follows him, and it does all the talking for him when need be. So when I left him waiting in his Beamer for more than five minutes on Saturday (Sept 26), I don't know why, but I felt like I did something wrong.

"Were you waiting long?, I asked as I analyzed the Merlot colored leather interior of his car. "Yeah," he replies sternly before mashing the gas for Chinatown. He's one of the most compelling characters starring in The Streets, which actually features former gang members from New York City's fabled Chinatown.

When you really break it down, there are actually three Chinatowns in the Big Apple. For most, it's just the one located next to Little Italy in downtown Manhattan. However, two other thriving Chinese communities exist in Sunset Park, Brooklyn -- and largest of them all in Flushing, Queens. The Streets combines similar stories from each place told by people who actually lived the Asian gang life -- so often misinterpreted in Hollywood movies.

We have about an hour to eat at the hustling and bustling Manhattan Dim Sum restaurant, Golden Unicorn. In the lobby, over a dozen groups waiting for their number to be called so they can be seated at a table in the main dining hall walk around impatiently. "I'm not about that life, not in Chinatown at least," Richie says with a laugh as he zooms past a group of suits and straight into the elevator. They look puzzled, but Richie is hungry and we're pressed for time.

"One hand washes the other but it takes two to wash the face," Richie quips as I notice him stuffing cash into the hands of the servers who took care of us. Thirty minutes later and full of Chinese dumplings, we're now speeding across the Brooklyn Bridge into Bushwick. Old Kid Productions, the producers of The Streets, have arranged a private screening of episode 1 at the IMAGE Gallery. When we get there, a majority of the cast and crew are already waiting for us. Of course when Richie walks up, the place starts to light up.

The first episode starts with a pretty heavy scene. We see one of the main characters, Benny Chung, as a child. But this isn't an ordinary situation for a young boy. Tied up in a chair is his biological father, who has been severely beaten. Several older Chinese gangsters are surrounding him as they instruct young Benny to shoot his own dad -- under the pretense that he is nothing but evil. As the dialogue continues, the boy is left with no choice but to obey his new family's orders.

Cut to the present day where we see Benny as a twenty-something-year-old, trying to live a normal life. It appears as if he's trying to put the crime life behind him to provide his younger brother with a opportunities that he missed out on. Benny has a normal office job now, and has to deal with being put into the stereotypical Asian work-horse role at the company. But as we'll see, leaving the lifestyle and breaking a blood oath doesn't come easy.

Five minutes into the first episode, and we finally see Richie's character on the screen. I also know this immediately because I can see the huge grin on his face from the corner of my eye. His character appears face-to-face with Benny in a local Chinatown park -- both parties have their crews with them and things are heated. Benny is apart of the American-born-Chinese thugs and Richie is with the F.O.B.s -- the Chinese born clique. And, both parties feel they deserve to call the shots around here.

After squabbling and arguing back and forth, there's nearly a shootout, but it's quickly diffused when Richie finds out the hard way that the younger A.B.C. crew (American Born Chinese) won't back down as easily as expected. As the debut episode comes to an end, we find out that there's about to be Big Trouble In Little Chinatown. Will Richie make it? Does Benny kill him?

Watch the inaugural episode below and stay tuned for more from season 1 at Old Kid's official Youtube channel.

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Drake To Direct Upcoming ’48 Laws Of Power’ Episode On Quibi

While Drake is behind the mic laying down new verses for upcoming music, the Toronto native will also step behind the camera to direct an episode of an upcoming series. Based on Robert Greene’s best-selling book The 48 Laws of Power, the series of the same name will debut on Quibi in the near future.

Drake’s production company Dreamcrew, and Anonymous Content will helm the executive producing duties. The partnership will also receive executive direction from Dreamcrew’s co-founder Adel “Future” Nur and executive Jason Shrier. “When Drake and I sat down with Robert Greene it was incredibly inspiring,” Future said. “The laws allow for a wide range of dynamic storytelling and Quibi allows us to tell these stories in bite-sized chapters similar to the book.” The entertainment outlet will launch on mobile on Apr. 6.

Greene, who’ll be an executive producer as well, said he’s looking forward to the cinematic adaptation of his 1998 book. The passage outlines the road to success through philosophies taught by Sun-tzu, Machiavelli, and more.

"I have always thought that The 48 Laws of Power would be a perfect fit for a series, bringing to life the timeless Machiavellian game of power as portrayed in the book. But it was not until Drake and Future with Anonymous Content approached me with their unique cinematic approach to the laws that I knew I could join forces with them and go all in for a filmed interpretation of my work," Greene said. Anonymous Content will spearhead the studio.

Although music videos might be the only time you see Drake on the television screen, for now, the 33-year-old has his hands in a couple of TV projects from Netflix to HBO. On the former streaming service, Drake executive produced London's hit series Top Boy. On HBO, the first season of Euphoria, which Drake recently posted a picture of a table read on his Instagram, is headed into its second season. The production is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Kenya Barris’ ‘#blackAF’ Netflix Series Debuts New Trailer

Kenya Barris is looking to command the Netflix universe with another program for the streaming giant titled #blackAF. The series, set to premiere on Apr. 17, will depict his parenting skills and family structure in “a total reboot of the family sitcom” dynamic.

The mockumentary stars Rashida Jones, with guest spots from Nia Long, Tyler Perry, Mike Epps and more. Barris will also step into a leading role, playing a version of himself. Its description reads: “With new money and expensive tastes, Kenya Barris and his family navigate success and explore the struggles of being unapologetically black and wealthy.”

The show arrives after Barris' previous sketch comedy series, Astronomy Club, which debuted in 2019. The 45-year-old director/writer has also created hit programming including his -ish canon of black-ish, grown-ish, and mixed-ish. Barris is also responsible for writing the sequel to Coming to America.

View the trailer below.

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‘Dutch’ Trailer Features Lance Gross, Macy Gray And More

In an adaptation of Teri Woods' best-selling Dutch novel, the film of the same name will finally hit theaters in Fall 2020. The movie stars Lance Gross, Macy Gray, Melissa Williams, James Hyde and more.

The motion picture is directed by Preston Whitmore (This Christmas) and tells the story of Bernard “Dutch” James Jr., an ambitious drug dealer who has his sights set on becoming the East Coast’s top drug lord while battling a high-profile court case.

"We really got our hands on an all-star cast," says Manny Halley, producer of Dutch and founder of Imani Media Group. "Dutch is an iconic story within the urban literary genre, so we had to get every detail right—and I think we did. Fans will be looking for us to finish the trilogy with this one!"

The book "Dutch" was part of a trilogy series that first began in 2003. It was followed by "Dutch II: Angel’s Revenge," and "Dutch III: International Gangster."

View the trailer above.

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