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Illegal Tender

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for violence, language and some sexuality

Reviewed by: Benjamin Badger

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Crime, Thriller, Drama, Suspense
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 24, 2007 / DVD release: December 18, 2007
Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios Copyright, Universal Studios
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Featuring: Michael Philip Del Rio, Samuel Molina, Rick Sepulveda, Manny Perez, D.C. Benny, Mercedes Mercado, See all »
Director: Franc. Reyes
Producer: Sueann Han, Preston L. Holmes, John Singleton, Dwight Williams
Distributor: Universal Studios

“Always protect the family.”

A friend lent me “Illegal Tender” because he told me it was a good movie, and I agreed because I had seen the trailers for it, and the film looked intriguing. I wanted to like “Illegal Tender”, I really did, but we don’t always get what we want.

On the eve of his son’s birth, Wilson de Leon (Manny Perez) is shot and killed by his own friends. That leaves his young wife Millie (Jessica Pimentel) alone to raise the child.

Skip ahead 20 years, and Wilson De Leon, Jr. (Rick Gonzalez) is living a good, if not perfect, life. He attends college, has a 4.0 GPA and has a loving girlfriend (played by Dania Ramirez). The environment at home isn’t as good, his relationship is rocky with his mother (now played by Wanda de Jesus), and they fight often. Wilson Jr. shows genuine love for his little brother Randy, but still Wilson would rather be somewhere else.

Wilson’s life changes quickly though, when his mother suddenly packs up and moves them away. It seems her past has comes back to haunt her. The very man (Javier Cordero, played by Gary Perez) who had Wilson de Leon, Sr. killed has ordered the same death sentence on Wilson’s mother. Does the man only want his two million dollars back, or is their a darker reason for his return?

Violence: A violent scene starts the film, as two of Wilson Sr.’s thugs pound a man’s face, resulting in a bloody nose. On a separate occasion, Wilson Jr. takes a beating, and his face is bloody. There are plenty of gunshots, most of which kill their intended victims, but remain bloodless. Some bullet wounds are shown, one in the head, one in the leg and another in the head (impact not seen, but blood spatters the wall). There is, also, a brief instance where Randy has a scrape on his cheek, apparently from falling off his bike.

Sex/Nudity: I was wary about sexual content, after the film’s title had the outline of a naked woman inside a dollar ($) sign. There are several brief moments of a woman’s nude behind, and then a man’s, accompanied by short movements, making it all too clear that a couple is having sex. (At this point, the scene seems out of place and was confusing to me, but it reveals itself later to put a mild twist in the plot). During that same scene, we see the side of the woman’s breast from through thin curtains. (When this scene is revisited later in the film, we see a lot more of what was going on).

Besides the obvious intercourse, many women wear short skirts and low-cut tops, a woman dances in a revealing outfit on TV, Ana seductively dances for a brief time in Wilson’s car, a scene inside a club constantly flashes back to the dancers, all in skimpy outfits, moving sensuously or downright thrusting. On a lesser note, Ana and Wilson kiss several times.

During the first scene that we, as an audience, see Ana and Wilson together, Ana says she is a “good girl”, but they are discussing whether they should move in together.

Language: I counted: 26 F-words, 20 S-words (some in conjunction with “bull”, and at least 3 in song lyrics), 3 ass*s, 2 d*mns, 1 GD, 1 S.O.B. and 1 h*ll. There are, also, about 7 “Oh, G*d(s)”, 4 OMGs, along with a “Sweet J*sus”, one “I swear to G*d” and an instance of “c*cks*cker”.

Positive Elements: Despite all the negative elements of the film, I did notice some positives that I though were well put (though it doesn’t change my opinion of the film, overall). Wilson tells Randy, on many occasions, that he loves him, at one time Wilson helps Randy with his homework, and, at a later time, tells Randy, “I keep telling you you’re smarter than me.” Wilson Jr. is shown praying before he eats. Eventually Wilson shows his mother genuine respect and tells her that he loves her. Millie shows her care for her children throughout the film, and, during an especially touching moment, she tells both Wilson and Randy, “I would do anything for you. Do you hear me? Anything for you.”

“Illegal Tender” is a well enough made film, but I just couldn’t like it. The acting is on par, mostly, the direction is good (though sometimes the director chooses some truly odd focuses), and the music adds a deeper level to the story. In the end, however, “Illegal Tender” misses the mark, so unless it’s on the top of your to-see list, skip this one.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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