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Hoodlum (1997) - movie overview

Hoodlum (1997)

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Plot Description

Release Date
• USA: Aug 27, 1997
DVD Release Date
• R1: Feb 3, 1998

MPAA Rating
Rated R for graphic ganster violence, strong language, a scene of sexuality and some nudity.

Running Time
2 hours, 10 minutes

Country USA

Studio MGM, United Artists

More info on

Other Titles
• Hoodlum
• Hoods (1996)

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Genre: Crime, Drama, Gangsters, True Story, Society, Murder, Prostitution, Period Piece, Psychos, Betrayal, Gore

Tagline: Power is measured in enemies.

Plot: Bill Duke’s HOODLUM, with its rich visuals, brutal violence, and moral probing, pays homage to THE GODFATHER and other classic gangster films while exploring the nature of black empowerment as it relates to criminality. The film is Duke’s second collaboration with Laurence Fishburne, and as with DEEP COVER, Fishburne delivers a compelling performance. He plays Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, the legendary Harlem gangster of the 1930s who fought Dutch Schultz for control of the numbers racket. Tim Roth is hilariously grotesque as Schultz, a villain whose foul mouth sets a new cinematic standard. Duke gets strong performances from Andy Garcia as Lucky Luciano and Chi McBride as Bumpy’s right-hand man, Illinois. Vanessa Williams plays Francine, a social activist who loves Bumpy but can’t understand the violent path he’s chosen. Bumpy, a surprisingly civic-minded criminal, goes to war with Schultz to protect Harlem from the interloper, but as the body count mounts in the community he’s trying to protect, he ends up losing the support of those closest to him. The film’s uneasy mix of mayhem and humor makes for compelling viewing, and the moral questions it raises about black empowerment and criminality only add to the intrigue.

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 Directed by
Bill Duke
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Deep Cover, A Rage in Harlem
 Written by
Chris Brancato
Species II, Miracles, The X Files
Laurence Fishburne
The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, Apocalypse Now
Tim Roth
Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Planet of the Apes
Andy Garcia
Ocean's Eleven, The Untouchables, Ocean's Twelve
Cicely Tyson
Fried Green Tomatoes, Madea's Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Chi McBride
I, Robot, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Terminal
Clarence Williams III
The General's Daughter, Reindeer Games, Half Baked
Loretta Devine
Crash, What Women Want, I Am Sam
 Music By
Elmer Bernstein
Gangs of New York, Ghost Busters, The Blues Brothers

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Taxi Driver (1976)
Magnum Force (1973)
Godfather Trilogy: 1901-1980, The (1992)
Shaft (1971)
Miller's Crossing (1990)

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