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Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver) stars in, produces, and directs a grim, sluggish, and sincere picture about the life of a Mexican American (Olmos) from East Los Angeles who becomes a gang member as a teenager, gets an education in crime and buggery at Folsom prison, and becomes a drug dealer when he gets out. Scripted by Floyd Mutrux and inspired by a true story, this is an ambitious attempt to analyze the self-perpetuation of ghetto crime, in a story that covers three generations while stretching from 1943 to the late 70s. Apart from some softening of the extreme violence (through manipulations on the sound track) and some fancy intercutting, this is every bit as unpleasant as Olmos can make it, but occasionally edifying as well.

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