The trailer for Spike Lee's emotionally charged new drama 'Chi-Raq' is here, and while it's based on an ancient war comedy, he takes a far more serious look at the war raging on the streets of Chicago in regards to gang violence and the city's ever growing death toll.

Teyonah Parris in 'Chi-Raq'Teyonah Parris brings the girl power in 'Chi-Raq'

The premise of the movie, as mentioned in the new trailer, is that homicides in Chicago have easily exceeded those of American Special Forces in Iraq (hence the title). It's a shocking statement that turns a would-be comedy into something far graver. It's based on the 411 BCE Greek play 'Lysistrata' by Aristophanes, which is set during the Peloponnesian War. The main idea is that the title character, a woman of independence and remarkable strength for that time, rallies together a group of women in a bid to end the war her own way; by persuading these ladies to sign an oath eschewing all sexual activity with their husbands until they agree to put down their weapons.

Indeed, this is also the situation in 'Chi-Raq'; a woman (also named Lysistrata) forms a pact with her female peers to 'deny all rights of access or entrance' after the news of a child accidentally being killed during a shoot-out in Chicago's Southside hits headlines. Too many lives have been lost to men fighting for their reputations and it's time for change. The word spreads to women everywhere, including the dancers at the local strip joints, so Lysistrata's plan truly does begin to have an impact on the gun-toting gangsters of the city.

Watch the trailer for 'Chi-Raq' here:


The film stars 'Mad Men' actress Teyonah Parris as Lysistrata, while Nick Cannon portrays a character called Chi-Raq. Samuel L. Jackson is the narrator Dolmedes and Wesley Snipes' character, wearing a red eye-patch, is appropriately named Cyclops. Other cast members include Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack, La La Anthony, Angela Bassett from 'American Horror Story' and Anya Engel-Adams in her first feature length film.

Nick Cannon in 'Chi-Raq'Nick Cannon IS Chi-Raq

There's something of an air of Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo and Juliet' to 'Chi-Raq'; in that it's an old story in a contemporary setting, that there appears to be two 'sides', the striking costume choices and, of course, in the resolute, unwavering, almost theatrical delivery. It also errs more on the side of tragedy than its original, choosing to focus more on the concept of peace and violence than feminism and sexual freedom.

Angela Bassett in 'Chi-Raq'The campaign for peace in Chi-Raq begins

Oscar nominated Spike Lee, whose last major film was the 2013 re-make of the Korean thriller 'Oldboy', is at the helm of 'Chi-Raq', with Kevin Willmott ('C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America') joining him on the screenplay, but not everyone is pleased with his portrayal. Chicago officials have slammed the provocative nature of the title, despite it being a popular reference among residents of Southside Chicago. For crime rates truly are at an all-time high in the Illinois city.

More: Read our review of 'Old Boy'

'Chi-Raq' is set to appear in US movie theaters on December 4th 2015.

'Chi-Raq' poster'Chi-Raq' is coming this December