By Merle Bertrand | September 12, 2000

When one generally thinks of Hawaii, it’s usually all luaus, grass skirts, honeymoons, and tropical beaches. The thought of the islands serving as a fermenting pit of political rebellion doesn’t normally spring to mind. Director JB Kalani wants to change all that…but he’ll have to produce something better than this tape in order to accomplish that.
The premise behind “The Darkside” is that the US government violated its own Constitution, displaced Queen Lilioukalani’s rightful Hawaiian government, and illegally annexed the sovereign nation as America’s fiftieth State. Pretty serious charges. Yet, given such episodes in our past as our less-than illustrious treatment of Native Americans and the establishment of Asian-American internment camps in World War II, just to scratch the surface, they’re not charges that can necessarily be dismissed out of hand. Clearly, the people Kalani shows involved in acts of civil disobedience on the beaches seem pretty firm in their convictions.
Unfortunately, this cheap and shoddy video doesn’t even come close to thoroughly addressing this potentially fascinating issue. The first half of the video’s paltry twelve minutes is nothing but a condensed history-of-Hawaii slide show. It’s only when the video moves to the isolated incident on the beach that “The Darkside” even begins to gain any momentum. Then, it’s over and the viewer is left scratching his or her head. Could the charges be true, or are these folks merely sun and sand-addled cousins of their loony Republic of Texas counterparts?
Attention documentary filmmakers: Here’s a subject that’s just ripe for the picking. If Kalani’s premise is true, it’s an issue that certainly deserves more extensive treatment than this. Then “The Darkside” can at least be regarded as a catalyst, helping along a cause about which Kalani apparently possesses more passion than filmmaking skills.

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