Taglines: Gangs. The war is here. The war is now.
Two white cops, Bob “Uncle Bob” Hodges (Robert Duvall), a respected 19-year LAPD veteran, and rookie officer Danny McGavin (Sean Penn) have just been teamed together in the C.R.A.S.H. unit that patrols East L.A. and South central.
The older cop is appreciated on the local streets. He is diplomatic on the surface, preaching “rapport” to gang members to encourage them to offer help when it is truly needed and recognizes that every action cops take is scrutinized by the very people they are trying to help. Hodges explains his view on policing to his young partner with a joke about bulls and cows.
Although the pair bond quickly, life lessons are seemingly lost on the aggressive, cavalier McGavin, whose stunted actions soon bring him quick notoriety with the local gang members and the people themselves, such as attacking a graffiti artist by spraying his eyes with the paint can. When McGavin wrecks their first unmarked car during a pursuit, its replacement, painted a vivid yellow, results in McGavin being nicknamed “Pac-Man” by officers and gang members alike.
McGavin also has a short lived romance with a waitress named Louisa (María Conchita Alonso) who, like the offended Hodges, feels the weight of the Pac-Man persona. Amidst the strains of these relationships, the murder of a Bloods gang member leads to a series of escalations between two other street gangs. A series of seemingly random incidents culminates in a plot that finds the two partners in the middle of the Crips, Bloods and Hispanic Barrio war.
The 21st Street Gang, led by a criminal named Frog, attempts to negotiate a peace similar to Hodges and steer clear of the melee. To protect his partner, Hodges unwittingly exposes Frog as his source on the Crips leader Roccet (Don Cheadle) with his scheme to kill McGavin. Each group attempts to right the wrongs against their respective crews as police work to prevent the hit and stand their authority over the fall out.
Colors is a 1988 American police procedural action crime film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The film takes place in the gang ridden neighborhoods of 1980’s South Central Los Angeles, East Los Angeles and the LAPD Rampart Division, and centers on Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall), an experienced Los Angeles Police Department CRASH officer, and his rookie partner, Danny McGavin (Sean Penn), who try to stop the gang violence between the Bloods, the Crips, and Hispanic street gangs. Colors relaunched Hopper as a director 19 years after Easy Rider, and inspired discussion over its depiction of gang life and gang violence.
Directed by: Dennis Hopper
Starring: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, María Conchita Alonso, Randy Brooks, Grand L. Bush, Don Cheadle, Gerardo Mejía, Glenn Plummer, Rudy Ramos
Screenplay by: Michael Schiffer
Production Design by: Ron Foreman
Cinematography by: Haskell Wexler
Film Editing by: Robert Estrin
Set Decoration by: Ernie Bishop
Art Direction by: Chas. Butcher
Music by: Herbie Hancock
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: April 15, 1988