75 user 44 critic

Colors (1988)

An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.


Dennis Hopper


Michael Schiffer (screenplay), Michael Schiffer (story) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Penn ... Danny McGavin
Robert Duvall ... Bob Hodges
Maria Conchita Alonso ... Louisa Gomez
Randy Brooks ... Ron Delaney
Grand L. Bush ... Larry Sylvester (as Grand Bush)
Don Cheadle ... Rocket
Gerardo Mejía ... Bird
Glenn Plummer ... High Top
Rudy Ramos ... Melindez
Sy Richardson ... Bailey
Trinidad Silva ... Frog
Charles Walker ... Reed
Damon Wayans ... T-Bone
Fred Asparagus Fred Asparagus ... Cook
Sherman Augustus ... Officer Porter
Learn more

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A confident young cop is shown the ropes by a veteran partner in the dangerous gang-controlled barrios of L.A. about to explode in violence in this look at the gang culture enforced by the colors that members wear. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's The Movie That Forced America To Choose A Side... Now It's Your Turn. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Danny McGavin (Sean Penn) and Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) wear a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) pin on their uniform shirt pocket flap (the pin is a white crest shape). The DRE program was born in LAPD's traffic division in the 1980s, and is now a nationwide standard for law enforcement officers trained and certified to detect and examine drivers who are under the influence of drugs. See more »


During the chase of the female driver by police, she crashes head on into a car parked on the street, propped up on blocks, which brings her car to a full stop, but when they cut to a different angle her car is shown only side-swiping the park car and then she continues speeding down the road. See more »


[first lines]
Diaz: Hey Hodges, what do you think about all those hot shot jitter bugs, huh?
Bob Hodges: What about 'em?
Diaz: You never went for this shit, did you?
Bob Hodges: No way.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original theatrical version wasn't shortened but scenes were added when Virgin released the VHS in the UK, marketed as a bonus rather than as a Director's Cut. In the 'international VHS version' two scenes were extended. See more »


Referenced in Resident Alien (1990) See more »


Oogum Boogum
Performed by Brenton Wood
Written by Brenton Wood (as Alfred Smith)
Published by Big Shot Music
Courtesy of Double Shot Records
See more »

User Reviews

A surprisingly very good and very underrated movie.
1 August 2016 | by The Grand MasterSee all my reviews

Colors is a movie that shines brightly with quality actors Sean Penn and Robert Duvall headlining the movie and Dennis Hopper sitting in the director's chair for the first time since Easy Rider (1969). The film could have easily been dismissed as a routine action movie but the end result is a gritty crime drama that highlights a major problem across the USA.

Colors focuses on the Los Angeles Police Department's CRASH Division (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) combating the gang wars that could explode across Los Angeles at any moment. Amongst the CRASH officers are the 19 year veteran Officer Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall, The Godfather) who treats all the gang members hard but fair yet approaches every problem with a sense of diplomacy. Hodges is partnered with Officer Danny McGavin (Sean Penn, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) a young police officer who is highly capable but has a very short fuse and proves to be his own worst enemy with his aggressive approach to police work, much to the chagrin to Hodges. Hodges and McGavin must work together to prevent an all out war on the streets of Los Angels between the Bloods and the Crips.

Sean Penn made his mark with Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and since then has gone from strength to strength with movies such as Bad Boys (1983), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and At Close Range (1986) which was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Improbably cast as an LAPD officer, Sean Penn turns in an excellent performance as Danny McGavin which sees him continue to come of age. Ironically, Sean Penn found himself on the wrong side of the law during the filming of Colors when he was jailed for punching an extra who photographed him and Robert Duvall without his permission.

The ever reliable Robert Duvall who never puts a foot wrong no matter what role he plays or what movie he appears in. Duvall does a fine job as veteran officer Bob Hodges who strives to keep the peace on the streets of Los Angeles as well as keeping his young hotheaded partner in line.

María Conchita Alonso (The Running Man), Don Cheadle (Traffic), Damon Wayans (The Last Boy Scout), and Glenn Plummer (Speed) also appear in small but effective roles in Colors and support Sean Penn and Robert Duvall very well.

The late Dennis Hopper was a surprise choice as director given that in his stellar career (Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Speed) he has only directed a handful of movies with Easy Rider (1969) being his only successful movie as a director. Here in Colors he has done a quality job bringing the movie to the big screen.

Colors was a surprisingly very good movie that is sorely underrated. Thankfully critics did not dismiss this as rubbish and gave the movie credit where it was due. It was also boosted by the star power of Sean Penn and Robert Duvall under the direction of Dennis Hopper. It is gritty and uncompromising, but Colors shines.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

29 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Colors See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,747,118, 17 April 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (unrated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR (Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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