Back Alley Bulls (Review)

A micro-budget indie with a few surprises.

by Gordon Shelly

Back Alley Bulls is a micro-budget film and a viewer should be fully aware of the shortcomings of a movie made on a very limited budget before going into it. However, even with its limitations, if given a chance, Back Alley Bulls is an entertaining flick on any budget.

It's a bit of an action movie, somewhat of a character study, and splashed with some well-placed comedy.

It is the story of Roman Jersey, a meandering never-do-well who finds himself in Singapore, first teaching English, then selling drugs. Eventually, his path leads him down a road of revenge that ultimately backfires into an explosively violent confrontation.


Back Alley Bulls suffers the fate of a micro-budget in some areas while finding redemption in others. As you might expect with many no-to-low budget flicks, the acting can be sub-standard and flat.  This can sometimes be due to inexperienced actors, a new director, a mix of technical shortcomings, or a bit of each.

Lead actor, Blaine Kaltman, is likable and creates a kinship with the viewer; however, director Cynthia Rabinaico relies too heavily on Kaltman's narration for exposition rather than simply letting the story unfold on screen.

Back Alley Bulls also succeeds in a few more areas where indies often fail. The sound quality is pretty darn good. I watch many festival and independent movies and sound is often one of the breaking points for low budget films. In Bulls, the sound is balanced, even, and clean. Kaltman also wears multiple hats on this production -- not only serving as lead actor but scoring the film, too. The musical score is surprisingly strong for an indie. It too is balanced, well-timed and matches the mood on the screen.

BestThriller2016jpgAdditionally, the movie is shot professionally. Meaning, the cinematographer knows how to shoot a movie, makes good use of the scenery, and allows for control of the atmosphere while also being allowed to creatively use the space on screen. Shortcomings aside, Back Alley Bulls is most successful in creating an entertaining story with characters viewers will come to be interested in as well.

The story does take a turn toward the action genre near the ending. The film's action sequences are compromised by budget, but remain fun. However, as a viewer I didn't fully buy into Roman Jersey's sudden willingness to accept the violence that takes place in the latter part of the movie.

If you watch this movie with independent sensibilities, you won't be let down.  Get more information from the website.

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