Movie Reviews: Rage In Harlem




All Rights Reserved

Bottom Line:


     Friendly neighborhood film critic seeks two enjoyable hours with black film, centered in Harlem, that isn't riddled with plot devices and holes, drugs, cliches, cardboard cut-out characters, and a contrived story line. Film must be a well balanced comedy-drama that "works."
     Director Bill Duke and screen writer John Toles-Bey's response? A Rage in Harlem -- a slick, well-crafted, action-packed comedy that takes place in the nifty '50s. Duke and Toles-Bey have constructed convincing characters and great scenes that are not only funny, they're fun.
     Robin Givens (the former Mrs. Mike Tyson) lands her first starring role as gold-digger Imabelle, or is Robin Givins really 'playing' at being a gold-digger? Anyway, she drags a gullible undertaker's assistant named Jackson (Forest Whitaker) into a scam that brings a treasure chest of stolen Mississippi gold to Harlem.
     Jackson is a naive sheltered young man who instantly falls in love with Imabelle. A mistake that forever changes his sedate world. It isn't long before their relationship hits a snag, however, once Imabelle is kidnapped by a former lover (and former owner of the treasure chest). Jackson is forced to seek the help of his estranged, slick, street-smart brother Goldy (Gregory Hines) to enlist his underground contacts.
     Goldy warns Jackson that Imabelle is playing him like a violin at a sap's symphony, but since he's such a kind-hearted brother, he'll help Jackson anyway. The price is a small one-- just the chest of stolen gold.
     Admittedly, there are a few stereotypes in this film, such as Danny Glover as a Blofeld type character petting his lap dog throughout the movie. Glover's acting talents displayed in The Color Purple, To Sleep With Anger (for which he received the 1991 Best Actor honor from the Independent Spirit Awards), and the Lethal Weapon's  are wasted in this movie. He's an entity. His Harlem boss character, Easy Money, is simply a device to move the story along.
     Despite a few wanting moments, A Rage in Harlem has managed to climb above the typical mad-cap buddy movie formula that film goers have suffered through in recent years. This is a good movie.



Videos and DVDs
All Products

Search by Keywords