This Is Video Clash

We wish we could tell you that Rude Boy — to be released Tuesday, August 1, on Sony/Legacy DVD for the very first time in America — is a good movie, but we can't. It isn't. Billed as a "fictional documentary" set in a socially turbulent, pre-Thatcher Britain, the film features first-time actor Ray Gange as a not particularly likable sex-shop clerk with not particularly likable political views hired to do a not particularly proficient job as a roadie for The Clash.

It's not that Ray isn't taken with the band. He is. It's just that Ray is rather the dictionary definition of a drunken lout — bored not only with the USA, but England and pretty much everything around him. And since Ray's lumbering behavior is neither unusual nor interesting (we all have mirrors, right?), the weight of the movie falls on The Clash. Not that there's anything wrong with that, because these early concert performances (including "Janie Jones," "White Riot," "White Man in Hammersmith Palais," and "Prisoner," all brilliantly captured by director/writer/producer Jack Hazan) are, in fact, both inspiring and historic. But they provide no narrative thread. On the rare occasion that we spend off-stage time with individual band members (that is, when they're not being arrested for shooting pigeons and other petty crimes) — say, Joe Strummer alone at the piano or Mick Jones adding the lead vocal to "Stay Free" in the studio — here comes Ray with another drunken, slurring entrance, effectively smothering one more potentially poignant moment in its infancy.

Sure, you'll want to see Rude Boy once, if only as a perverse punk curio. But the second time this DVD goes into the player, you'll be navigating the extensive Special Features menu in search of the on-the-money marker titled "Just Show Me The Clash."


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