South Central (film)

South Central is a 1992 American crime-drama film, written and directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson. This film is an adaptation of the 1987 novel Crips by Donald Bakeer,[1] a former high school teacher in South Central Los Angeles. The film stars Glenn Plummer, Byron Minns and Christian Coleman. South Central was produced by Oliver Stone and released by Warner Bros.

South Central
South Central 1992 film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Milburn Anderson
Produced byWilliam B. Steakley
Oliver Stone
Janet Yang
Written byStephen Milburn Anderson
Donald Bakeer (novel)
Music byTim Truman
CinematographyCharlie Lieberman
Edited bySteven Nevius
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • September 18, 1992 (1992-09-18)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million
Box office$1,373,196

The movie received wide critical acclaim, with New Yorker Magazine praising it as one of the year's best independent films. South Central also placed Stephen Milburn Anderson in the New York Times "Who's Who Among Hot New Filmmakers," along with Quentin Tarantino and Tim Robbins. The 1998 Edward Norton drama American History X is often compared to South Central by critics and fans.


Bobby Johnson (Glenn Plummer) is a young black gang member of Hoover Street Deuces, or simply Deuce. He gets paroled from the Youth Authority, and he meets with his fellow gang members Ray Ray, Loco and Bear (Byron Keith Minns, Vincent Craig Dupree and Lexie Bigham, respectively). As it turns out, Bobby's girlfriend Carole (LaRita Shelby) gave birth to his son Jimmy (Christian Coleman) while he was incarcerated.

The gang goes to Carole's apartment only to find out that she is not home. Ray Ray sees Carol outside the apartment of a heroin dealer named Genie Lamp. The two sides get into in altercation until Carole breaks up the argument. Later, Bobby and Carol embrace as they look forward to being a family now that Bobby is out of jail. Soon after, Ray Ray calls a meeting with the gang leaders from the other Deuce sets, in which he lays down the rules and introduces crack as means to financial gain for the gang. The Deuce gang attends a party at a small nightclub held by Genie Lamp. Genie is first reluctant to allow the gang inside until it is revealed by Ray Ray that Genie Lamp is running an illegal gambling establishment out back.

As Bobby and Jimmy attempt to return home from the party, they are approached by Genie Lamp and his bodyguard, who force Bobby to come to Genie's apartment and snort a line of heroin. Genie threatens Bobby and the Deuce gang. Bobby and Jimmy return home in the morning to find Carole passed out on the couch from smoking PCP. Bobby seeks revenge, calling upon Ray Ray and the gang.

The Deuces return to Genie Lamp's club and they shoot his bodyguard. Ray Ray talks Bobby into killing Genie with a pistol with a potato on the barrel as a silencer. Loco sprays the wall with a Deuce tag and the gang leaves. After, Ray Ray tattoos a black heart on Bobby's face as a badge of honor for killing an enemy for the progress of the gang. He is officially made an O.G. (original gangster). Bobby returns home and tells Carole that they have to move immediately.

Bobby and Carole move into a small house. Carole is fed up with living in hiding and being broke. She complains to Bobby about Ray Ray benefiting from the drug trade while Bobby and the family are steadily broke. She leaves the house while Bobby and Jimmy stay behind. Soon after, two members of the Deuce gang pull up to Bobby's house in a brand-new red convertible. The guys ask Bobby to go for a ride and he reluctantly gives in.

The gang drives down Hollywood Boulevard and encounters a suspected prostitute. Once the prostitute is in the car, Loco tells her that they are gang members and he shows her a vial of crack cocaine. The prostitute pulls out a gun and her police badge and informs the gang that she is an undercover Los Angeles police officer. The guys are taken to jail and Bobby is questioned by a detective for the murder of Genie Lamp. Bobby refuses to cooperate and the police allow him to see his son for the last time. Bobby gets a ten year prison sentence and is jailed for the murder he committed.

Ten years later, Bobby's son Jimmy is a preteen hanging out with Deuce gang members. Jimmy is approached by Ray Ray, who informs Jimmy that he wants him to start stealing car stereos for him and Ray Ray will pay him for the stolen goods. Ray Ray then gives Jimmy some money and a marijuana joint. The next scene shows Bobby in prison lifting weights. Bobby, now a respected gang leader, sees some members of the Aryan Brotherhood cornering Loco. Bobby intervenes and saves Loco.

Buddha (Tim DeZarn), the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, informs Bobby that he now owes the Aryans 15 boxes of cigarettes. Over time, the film shows Jimmy stealing car stereos and selling them to Ray Ray for $20 a piece. Meanwhile, Loco tells Bobby that Ray Ray is betraying the gang by taking all of the gang's profits for himself and that Ray Ray has young Deuce members, including Jimmy, steal goods for him. Bobby is outraged further when Jimmy is shot in the back by a man named Willie Manchester (Ivory Ocean) while attempting to steal Willie's car radio.

Bobby refuses to cooperate with the Deuce gang when they need his assistance, so the gang revokes his membership. This creates an open season on Bobby in prison because the gang was protecting him from attacks by the Aryan Brotherhood. One of the Aryans proceeds to steal Bobby's food during lunchtime, and Bobby beats the man to a pulp. Bobby is sent to solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, Jimmy is seen recuperating in the hospital. He is taught how to play table tennis and is taken care of by a kind nurse. While in prison, Bobby is transferred out of solitary to a new cell in general population. He has a new cellmate, Ali (Carl Lumbly), who tries to reach out to Bobby. Soon after, the two get into an argument, and Ali tells Bobby that he lost his son to street violence by not being there for him as his father. Ali is serving a life sentence for killing the three men that murdered his son.

Ali tells Bobby that the black man has to be there for his children and that Bobby has a second chance to do so since he is eligible for parole. The film switches over to Jimmy who tells an employee from child services that he had been abused and neglected by his mother Carole. He eventually is released from the hospital and taken to a juvenile halfway house. Bobby agrees to change his life for himself and his son, thanks to the efforts of Ali.

Bobby is seen with Ali in the prison library, learning about figures from black history such as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. Ali instructs Bobby to change his attitude because it is the key element to his getting parole and becoming a better man. Soon after, Bobby is granted parole and he thanks Ali for his help. Ali had a fellow prisoner remove Bobby's Deuce gang tattoo from his face and send him off with a decent haircut. Bobby tells Ali that he is no longer a Deuce gang member, that he is a man who will stand up alone as a man has to, and that he will give his life in order to save his son's life. Bobby sees Loco mopping the floors, and he gives Loco an African garment as a gift.

Once released, he returns to the neighborhood that he and his former gang once controlled, South Central Los Angeles. Bobby comes home to find Carole asleep on the couch. He carries her to bed and he begins to read the mail on the kitchen table. He comes across a letter from the state that informs him that Jimmy has been taken away and Carole seems to not know or care. Bobby drives to the halfway house and speaks with a supervisor.

The supervisor tells Bobby that he has to fulfill certain requirements in order to see Jimmy as well as get permission from his probation officer and state officials. However, the supervisor allows Bobby to see Jimmy because he has not seen his son in 10 years. The two begin to talk, and Jimmy is shocked that his father has denounced the Deuce gang and will not seek revenge against Willie Manchester, the man that shot Jimmy. Jimmy leaves the room in anger and insults Bobby for not being the proud Deuce gang leader that Jimmy thought his father would be.

The next day, the police come to Bobby's house in search of Jimmy, who had escaped the juvenile halfway house. Bobby searches the streets in pursuit of Jimmy. He comes across a group of young teenage Deuce members and tells them that he is Jimmy's father, the "Original Gangster Bobby Johnson." The kids cooperate and tell Bobby that Jimmy is hiding out at Ray Ray's warehouse.

Bobby goes to Ray Ray's warehouse and is greeted by Bear at the door. Bear reluctantly allows Bobby in, but only at the request of Ray Ray. Bobby and Ray Ray embrace and have a talk. Ray Ray is shocked that Bobby is a new man who wants no part of the Deuce gang. Bobby says that he only wants his son and that he is not interested in the benefits of the criminal lifestyle. Jimmy is seen in the warehouse wearing gang attire and refuses to go back to the juvenile halfway house.

Bobby tries to console Jimmy, but Ray Ray interferes with them. Bobby says that Ray Ray does not care about the gang as seen by the way Ray Ray kicked Loco out. Bear attacks Bobby and knocks him out. Ray Ray opens up a door that reveals a kidnapped Willie Manchester. Ray Ray gives Jimmy a gun and tries to talk him into shooting Willie. Willie begs for his life and tells Jimmy that he did not mean to shoot him. Bobby wakes up and intervenes by beating up Bear and taking his gun.

Bobby steps in front of Willie Manchester and threatens to kill Ray Ray. Suddenly, Bobby sees the look on Jimmy's face, and Bobby puts his gun down. Bobby talks to Jimmy about the mistake it would be if Jimmy killed Willie Manchester. Bobby states that Jimmy can replace goods that he steals from a man, but he cannot replace a man's life that he took. Jimmy lets go of the gun which Ray Ray holds.

Bobby tells them that he loves his son and that he would give his life for Jimmy. Ray Ray lets go of Jimmy and Bobby, who then embrace one another. Ray Ray lets Willie Manchester leave and he runs out of the warehouse. Bobby tells Jimmy that they must start their lives over, but this time they will do it the right way. The scene fades to black as the two walk out of the warehouse together as father and son.



A soundtrack containing hip hop, soul and R&B music was released on September 18, 1992 by Hollywood Records.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-03-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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