I don't know what to say about Elise Neal. After her supporting role in Hustle & Flow as Anthony Anderson's wife Yvette, I would have believed that Elise Neal would have gotten better roles. But I suppose that everyone has to pay the bills.
4 Life however would not be the movie I would choose to pay them.
The film is supposed to be set around a gang organization known as D4L (Dogs Of Life) which consists of Dayvon (Wood Harris of The Wire) and Ty (Page Kennedy). Dayvon is the calm, laid back second in command who takes over as leader of the organization after Ty is put in prison. The deal would be, as established early on in the film, that Dayvon would turn over the reins to him once his term was up.
Insert plot cliche — Dayvon wants out of the gang life. This of course makes Ty mad because as in all gangs, when you sign up, you sign up for life. And so, a war begins between the two of them.
Now see how simple that was to explain? If only that was what the movie stuck with. It doesn't.
The movie also seems to want to deal with the life of a stripper, particularly one named Jare (Elise Neal), who is one of Dayvon's many girlfriends. She manages to get caught in the crossfire between two D4L members who want the organization for themselves. Luckily that silliness is capped mid-way through the story.
Perhaps I missed where and how the beef actually began between Wood Harris' character and Page Kennedy's. I mean it's there, it must exist, but I think I got distracted by the many scenes of strippers dancing. Granted they were good scenes (in the BET UnCut sort of way), but they just didn't fit into the overall point of the story.
Eliminating the stripper scenes - hell, the whole stripper plot - would have been a better idea. I would have loved to know exactly how big the organization was, or even more importantly, the kind of person Dayvon was. Wood Harris gives depth to the typical urban gangster like he did in The Wire, but the performance can only showcase so much of what isn't there. It actually has to be written and filmed, too.