Civil Brand (2003)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Television director Neema Barnette directs the forceful drama Civil Brand, based on a story by Preston A. Whitmore II. Shot with a micro-budget of 500,000 dollars, the film stars confrontational rap and hip-hop artists Mos Def, MC Lyte, and Da Brat. The story concerns a women's prison that exploits its largely African-American inmate population as cheap labor to manufacture products for a corporation. Mostly incarcerated due to domestic violence situations, the inmates also face sexual abuse as the hands of the prison staff, headed by Captain Deese (Clifton Powell) and Warden Nelson (Reed McCants). Accused of murder, Frances Shepard (Lisa Rae) joins forces with inmates Little Momma (Lark Voorhies), Wet (Monica Calhoun), and Nikki Barnes (N'Bushe Wright), as well as law student Michael (Mos Def), in order to start an uprising.
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Action & Adventure , Cult Movies , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
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LisaRaye McCoy
as Frances Shepard
N'Bushe Wright
as Nikki Barnes
Da Brat
as Sabrina
Clifton Powell
as Captain Dease
Reed R. McCants
as Warden Nelson
Lark Voorhies
as Little Momma
MC Lyte
as Sgt. Cervantes
Robert Archer Lynn
as John Banks
Lisa Ray
as Frances Shepard
Yasiin Bey
as Michael Meadows
Chris Dodson
as Miller
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Critic Reviews for Civil Brand

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (10)

It's impossible to ignore the strain of misogyny that taints the movie.

Full Review… | October 16, 2003
New York Daily News
Top Critic

It's guilty of gross B-movie meltdown, but mitigating circumstances include honest anger and a scattering of vivid scenes.

October 13, 2003
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

Barnette, a veteran TV director, means this as an exposé of prison abuse and exploitation, but the film is too simplistic and derivative to succeed.

October 10, 2003
New York Post
Top Critic

Artistically, its heavy-handed clumsiness undercuts its goals.

October 10, 2003
Detroit News
Top Critic

It presents a heated-up, awkward blend of earnest outrage and down-and-dirty exploitation.

October 9, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Plagued by continuity problems, ham-fisted storytelling and a problematic voiceover by Da Brat, Civil Brand feels less like a prison movie than a prison sentence.

Full Review… | October 9, 2003
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Civil Brand

A tramatic film piece Wow shows the harsh realities of what women go through in the prison system but it's not always like that but you'll have that one sex offender working within the system just skating by unnoticed and i must say that what a well done story, great ensemble cast and this movie leaves you with questions,answers, and a powerful message

Antwan J. Jones
Antwan J. Jones

Civil Brand's aesthetic is pure mid-'70s blaxploitation, and not in an ironic or reverent sense. Even the heavy-handed political rhetoric is in keeping with the neo-blaxploitation vibe, since even bad blaxploitation movies often had revolutionary undercurrents.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

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