I really enjoyed this film. Did not pick up my phone once while watching this film, it had my attention throughout. While the story is not told in a traditional linear way, you're still able to follow it. The story flashes between the main character's life in Monterrey and New York City. I see reviews complaining about how he doesn't change, doesn't really have any character growth and that is simply because he's "terko." Not just cos he's in gang called "terkos" but he's literally the definition of the word. That's why they gave you the definition at the beginning of the film. Guess it got lost in translation. Aside from that, he is hardened because of the violence he has grown up in. He's always been on survival mode, so the decision to put him in NYC was clever because that's a city that you always have to be on a survival mode in.
Despite the language barrier he does manage in the city, he becomes homeless after fighting the guy who gave him a place to stay but he makes a good point in that fight. The fight was because the guy wouldn't let him play his Cumbia music at a party he was having in favor of dubstep/electronic music. Ulysses basically tells him that he tries too hard to be Black. As there's truth in that statement, his host gets enraged and eventually beats him up. But I was so happy to see that acknowledged in a film. Despite the guy speaking Spanish and following the "foo" lifestyle, he's disconnected from his culture so is appropriating another. Ulysses grew up on the other side of the border, he doesn't understand this mentality. In the US, Latinos unconsciously do it but this has been the case throughout history; i.e: Zoot Suits. This is definitely a melting pot effect and it's a positive thing but sadly some individuals get lost in it and forget their own culture and background - something that's worth celebrating as well. So this was a scene I really appreciated.
His friendship with Lin, the Chinese American girl, was my favorite thing in the film. That showed the beauty of the melting pot of cultures in the US. Lin genuinely likes him and Ulysses eventually gets comfortable around her despite the language barrier. What eventually drives him away is when she brings him along to a party where he, once again, feels like an outsider. He felt that way even in a Latin bar he visited earlier in the film in NYC. His heart and soul are in Monterrey. He knows the life threatening consequences of going back to his hometown, but he's a "terko" after all.
I really liked this film, it's not perfect but it's amazing nonetheless. I highly recommend it. It's a great story told in such a natural way.
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In the mountains of Monterrey, Mexico, a small street gang named "Los Terkos" spend their days listening to slowed down cumbia music and attending dance parties, showing off their outfits, hairstyles and gang alliances. These different bands of disaffected youth refer to themselves as Kolombianos, combining the Cholo culture with Colombian music. Ulises Samperio (17),the leader of Los Terkos, tries to protect his friends from the nefarious elements of a quickly evolving drug/political war, but after a misunderstanding with a local cartel, he is forced to leave for Jackson Heights, Queens, a diverse immigrant community in New York City. Ulises tries to assimilate, but when he learns that his gang and the whole Kolombia culture is under threat, he questions his place in America and longs to return home.
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