June 19, 1978 12:00 PM

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs of Welcome Back, Kotter is top-billed and performs convincingly as a Vietnam vet who returns to run a street gang, the Kingsmen. But the real star is young Bryan O’Dell (A Piece of the Action) as a teenager intent on becoming a Kingsman—the good guys in what amounts to a ghetto morality play. He shows remarkable range—from confronting his unsympathetic mother to impressing the gang by cutting the badge off a rival gang member’s jacket to being scared witless at the start of a rumble. The film has a tough kind of street humor, a strong cast and an effective score by the rock group War; it rises far above the usual jive school of black exploitation. (R)

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