As Asian’s we have a respect for the police force, well, the police forces outside of our homelands anyway. We all are aware that those cops back home are as crooked as any Asian Music Awards ceremony. But, have you heard of Michael Dowd? Because if you thought cha paani cops were dodgy Mr Dowd raises the bar something crazy.
“The Seven Five” is documentary, but to all intends and purposes this is one hell of a movie. The documentary revisits the true-crime deeds of Michael Dowd, a former New York police officer who was arrested in 1992 with a stash of cocaine on him. He was the ringleader of a crew of dirty cops stationed at the 75th Precinct in East New York, Dowd, was a gangster in a cops uniform.
Dowd, worked his way not through the ranks of the police force but he eventually graduated to working for drug rings, one of which put him on retainer so he could provide information about narcotic operations. “The Seven Five” has been called “the cop version of ‘GoodFellas,’ ” which may explain why Sony has plans to produce a fictional remake. Here’s hoping that version uses a better moral compass.
You learn a lot in “The Seven Five” about Mr. Dowd’s criminal exploits, which emerge in original interviews with him and some of his former associates, in re-creations of their exploits and, valuably, in clips from his testimony before the Mollen Commission. It was formed after Mr. Dowd and a handful of other dirty cops were arrested on narcotic charges, and its mission was spelled out in its title: “Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the Anti-Corruption Procedures of the Police Department.” Among its many bleak findings was that Mr. Dowd’s underworld activities were so lucrative that from 1987 to 1988 he reaped $4,000 a week from drug organizations in his precinct. Sometimes he even forgot to pick up his paycheck.
And now Mr. Dowd, having served time in a federal prison, is making a comeback as the star of this breathless, ethically challenged documentary, which the director Tiller Russell has pulled together as slickly as an episode of “Law & Order” (without, you know, much of either). The main source here is Mr. Dowd, who, mouth gunning, excitedly recounts how he stole drugs and money, stories that are interlaced with talking-head accounts from some of his past associates, including former cops and drug dealers who are thanked in the credits. Every so often if not nearly enough, you also hear from some of the good guys who helped bring Mr. Dowd down, including one who soberly invokes what bad guys like Mr. Dowd meant for neighborhoods under his watch.
The Seven Five is one hell of a watch and for me, your Box Set Wala Yaar it is a solid 9/10
The Seven Five is available on Netflix and in Full on YouTube.