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Universal Revives LA Riots Feature Project With Justin Lin (‘Fast Five’) Directing

Universal Revives LA Riots Feature Project With Justin Lin ('Fast Five') Directing

Justin Lin is an interesting, and certainly unexpected choice for direct a film based on the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of four LAPD officers charged with beating the late Rodney King.

Spike Lee was once the man for the job several years ago, but he couldn’t get the project financed. So consider this yet another story Spike Lee wanted to tell on film but didn’t get the opportunity to, and will instead be told by someone else (Jackie Robinson being the other).

According to a Vulture exclusive this morning, Justin Lin (whose Fast Five was an international box office hit last year) is apparently Universal Pictures’ choice to direct the project for Imagine Entertainment (Ron Howard, Brian Grazer). And I assume with a whole new script (John Ridley penned the version Spike was going to direct way back when).

With this team (Howard, Grazer and potentially Lin), what kind of film about the LA Riots can we expect? 

I can’t answer that question just yet; I need to know more.

But what we can say with some certainty is that there should be a few starring roles for black actors in this – starting with Rodney King most likely.

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Justin Lin, didn't he just get traded to the Houston Rockets?..oops?my bad that was Jeremy.


In a recent 20 year anniversary story that "Ebony" did on the riots, it was revealed that most of the looters in L.A. were NOT African Americans. It would be nice if this truth would come out, but this is Hollywood we're talking about, so don't hold your breath.

Miles Ellison

The film will be from the perspective of the white Simi Valley jurors. The riots will just be a backdrop for their angst and street racing.

kid chaos

Just as long as the peolpe burning down LA are not heros in the movie


Bad choice. Lin is one of the last people who should direct a project of this caliber.


Haha, why not michael bay while we're at it? seriously, the job should go to some directors like paul greengrass or steve mcqueen, certainly not to any director who has something to do with the fast and furious franchise… as interesting as the subject may be, I'm skipping this for sure.


Lin also did Tokyo Drift. I think he's proven himself capable telling a multi-race story with action sequences.


I don't see anything questionable with this choice. We know what Spike can do, but with all due respect, he doesn't have the corner on every film dealing with complex racial and urban dynamics.

He's also not a native L.A.'er, like Lin is, and what happened in Crown Heights that preceded this was not a one-to-one reflection of what happened in L.A. I live through the riots; obviously, King's trial, and the injustices from it, sparked the fury. But the aftermath revealed much, much more, unearthing the complex racial dynamics between the Black and Asian and Chicano communities, class and urban geographical separation in L.A. county, glib and reductionist media narratives about 'immigrant store owners', et al.

I think Lin certainly has the chops. It might be refreshing, too, view these events from an Asian immigrant lens. Certainly not presuming he'd even take that spin, but we'll see.

And if not Lin, at the least, John Singleton, a L.A. native, who can tell an equally visceral tale with complexity and skill.


Nooooooooooo! This is EXACTLY the type of project that would showcase Spike's skills!

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