Little more than a vanity project for the charismatic Duane Martin, Ride or Die (2003) is nonetheless a low-budget triumph.
Essentially a cheaper retread of Keenen Ivory Wayans’ 1994 action comedy A Low Down Dirty Shame and 1989’s The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Craig Ross, Jr’s film looks great.
Made for an extremely modest budget of $2 million, limitations have been overcome and favours called in to make this a high quality production. Martin’s not a household name but in a career stretching back to the early 1990s he's clearly made a lot of friends.
Not only does Vivica A. Fox co-star and Meagan Good but features cameos by Gabrielle Union and Stacey Dash. The film even boasts Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith among its Executive Producers. Martin had appeared in Woo with Mrs Smith and Deliver Us From Eva with Union and Good.
As Private Investigator Conrad “Rad” McCrae, Martin is perhaps not as funny as he thinks he is but a very likeable lead. The problem is he’s too generic, making you think fondly of those he’s following in the footsteps of.
Ride or Die (aka Hustle and Heat aka Rap Connection) is enjoyably routine and an amusing way to spend 80 minutes or so. But as cool as Duane Martin thinks he is it's the beautiful woman and the absurd final act in which one of the villains is killed with an exploding tampon that make this a must see.