Gang Related

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Gang Related
Gang related ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jim Kouf
Produced by John Bertolli
Brad Krevoy
Steven Stabler
Written by Jim Kouf
Starring James Belushi
James Earl Jones
Dennis Quaid
David Paymer
Gary Cole
Tupac Shakur
Lela Rochon
Terrence "TC" Carson
Music by Mickey Hart
Cinematography Brian J. Reynolds
Edited by Todd C. Ramsay
Orion Pictures
Kouf/Bigelow Productions
Distributed by MGM
Orion Pictures
Release dates
October 8, 1997
Running time
102 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $5,906,773[1]

Gang Related is a 1997 American crime thriller film written and directed by Jim Kouf starring James Belushi, Tupac Shakur, Dennis Quaid, Lela Rochon, David Paymer and James Earl Jones. The film revolves around two renegade detectives who attempt to frame a homeless man for the murder of an undercover DEA agent they themselves had killed. The film is notable for being Tupac Shakur's last film performance.


Vice police detectives Frank Divinci (James Belushi) and Jake Rodriguez (Tupac Shakur) gun down narcotics dealer Lionel Hudd (Kool Moe Dee), after the three engage illegally in drug trafficking; this is in order to recover the cocaine Hudd purchased from them. When Divinci and Rodriguez find out Hudd was actually a "deep cover" DEA agent—because Hudd's partner (Gary Cole) drops by their precinct for help sniffing out the killers—they try to frame anyone else with the murder. It does not help that Rodriguez has outstanding gambling debts, and that a huge man known only as "Mr. Cutlass Supreme" (Tiny Lister) is on his case for it. After arresting numerous felons without success (because they cannot possibly link Hudd's murder to any of them), Divinci and Rodriguez arrest a homeless drunk by the name of Joe Doe (Dennis Quaid). While Joe is still intoxicated, the detectives convince him that he shot Hudd. They even make him sign a confession. Divinci and Rodriguez convince local stripper Cynthia Webb (Lela Rochon), also Divinci's mistress, who was the "bait" in their trap for Hudd, to "identify" Joe in a police line-up.

At his first legal hearing, Joe is declared mentally unfit to stand trial (he can not even remember his own last name). The trial is postponed accordingly. Really believing that he killed Hudd, Joe informs his attorney that he deserves to be in jail and is willing to accept a plea bargain. Meanwhile, it turns out that the Magnum that Rodruiguez stole from the police-evidence room to kill Hudd is that of Clyde David Dunner, a murderer and arsonist arrested by Divinci and Rodruiguez and whose case is currently being tried. To fill the void, Divinci gets another gun to replace the other, but during trial Dunner recognizes that this one is not his gun and the case is dropped for lack of evidence.

At Joe's second hearing, high-profile lawyer Arthur Baylor (James Earl Jones) attends the proceedings. Baylor reveals that his client's name is actually William Dane McCall, and that he is actually the missing-and-presumed-dead co-heir to the financial empire of a high-status family, as well as a surgeon who used to attend and help the poor. Baylor asks the court to grant a one-week continuance so he can prepare his defense properly. The court agrees. Afterwards, Cynthia is summoned to testify in court. Nervous and afraid, she disappears for a period of time, so Divinci, fearing that she may betray him, hires Manny, a bail agent, to help locate her; failing to do so, Manny receives a beating from Divinci and Rodriguez. Cynthia is finally discovered and brought in for The People vs. William Dane McCall. She gives her rehearsed testimony against "Joe", at which time William informs Baylor that he lived in an alley next to Cynthia's apartment. Baylor questions Cynthia and points to the contradictions in her testimony until she finally confesses to knowing "Joe". The fact that she knows the defendant as "Joe" and not as "William Dane McCall" shows that she had previous knowledge of the defendant, thus proving her testimony for "Joe" being Hudd's killer to be false. She is arrested for perjury while the verdict of William's case remains pending. Divinci hires Manny to get Cynthia out of jail. He plans to kill her before she can testify.

On their way to "silence" her, Rodriguez confesses to Divinci about feeling guilty regarding the numerous murders they have committed. Divinci suddenly suspects his partner of taping their conversation; such indeed turns out to be the case, after Divinci forcibly searches Rodriguez. Rodriguez informs Divinci that he has already confessed to the DEA regarding what they have done. Unwilling to kill Rodriguez here and now, Divinci renounces their friendship and drives off into the night. Rodriguez returns home to find his bookie and Mr. Cutlass Supreme waiting for him. Enraged about the preceding events, he attacks them only to be shot dead. Cynthia, bring to court by Baylor's men, strikes a deal with Baylor to testify against Divinci in return for her perjury case being dropped.

Four months later, Frank, on the run and knowing that Cynthia has confessed against him, breaks into her home. After taking her money, he shoots and wounds her. The dying Cynthia is rushed to an emergency room at the local hospital, where Dr. McCall prepares to operate on her and save her life.

Divinci makes arrangements with Manny to sneak out of the country, demanding a luxurious car and a driver. Frank is convinced that he is going free, but the driver Manny hires for Divinci turns out to be Dunner, the murderer. Dunner pulls the same revolver used to kill Hudd and shoots Frank in the head, abandoning the car and the body in some deserted alley.



Before the credits roll, the tribute "Dedicated to Tupac Shakur (1971–1996)" appears onscreen. This was Shakur's last film role before his shooting and subsequent death on September 13, 1996.

Gang Related opened in North America in 1,260 theaters and made $2,443,237 with an average of $1,939 per theater ranking 10th at the box office. The film ended up earning $5,906,773.[2]

The film received mixed reviews and has a rating of 56% on Rotten tomatoes based on 16 reviews with an average rating of 5.4 out of 10.[3]

A DVD version of the film was released on November 20, 2001.


Year Title Chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
U.S. U.S. R&B
1997 Gang Related 2 1
  • US: 2× Platinum


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