Synopsis by Paul Brenner
Taylor Hackford directed this urgent melodrama about the realities of street crime, gangs, and prison life among the Chicanos of East Los Angeles. Miklo (Damian Chapa), Paco (Benjamin Bratt) and Cruz (Jesse Borrego) are three friends who are living in the East Los Angeles of 1972 as it is torn apart by violence. When the gang violence hits the three friends, they are affected by their participation in the bitter violence in different ways. Cruz, an artist, becomes crippled, and he sinks deeply into drug addiction. Paco, an accessory to murder, joins the military to avoid jail time, leading to a spot on the LAPD. Miklo, the kid with the gun, is sent to jail, where he slowly rises up in the ranks of La Onda, the San Quentin Latino gang.
gangster, artist, convict, drugs, family, friendship, gang-war, narcotics-agent, poverty, racism, self-discovery, slice-of-life