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A Rage in Harlem
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Reviews & Ratings for
A Rage in Harlem More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

One the best gangster films ever

10/10
Author: dee.reid from United States
8 February 2002

Robin Givens stars in this brilliant action-comedy-crime-thriller flick about a gangster's moll, who after a bloody shoot-out in the beginning, flees to Harlem with a trunkload of gold. She later finds herself involved with a shy assistant(the always dependable Forest Whitaker). They predictably fall in love and pretty soon Givens' presumed dead boyfriend comes to town looking for her and the gold.

As my one line summary states it, this is one the best gangster movies ever made. In the vein of such gangster films like "The Untouchables" or "Hoodlum", "A Rage in Harlem" ranks pretty high up there. Director Bill Duke who directed Laurence Fishburne in the very stylish "Deep Cover" and the gritty "Hoodlum" is at the top of his game here. The 1950s setting really adds to the overall greatness of this movie.

Robin Givens is excellent and very beautiful in a role that seems almost perfectly suited for her. Forest Whitaker plays his role almost too good. Not only does fit his part but he looks it as well.

To sum it up, this movie is excellent. The direction, acting, and casting are all top notch.

10/10

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Violent and dark...but I liked it

7/10
Author: Wayne Malin (wwaayynnee51@hotmail.com) from United States
18 July 2007

This takes place in 1956. Imabelle (Robin Givens) gets away from her mobster boyfriend with a stash of gold he stole. She drives from Mississippi to NY and hides out totally unaware that her boyfriend and his gang are after her. She gets an overweight, naive and trusting man named Jackson (Forest Whitaker) to love her--but then her boyfriend shows up. She leaves him but Jackson gets his brother Goldy (Gregory Hines) to help him find her.

That may sound a little plot heavy...but that's only the first hour! This movie is way too convoluted and far too long. Also Hines and Givens are just not good actors. They try but they can't pull this off--although Givens looks great in some of her costumes. Still I did like this.

Some previous posters pointed out that this is extremely bloody and that's very true. Also it has strong doses of black humor. Still, it didn't bother me. If anything it gave the film a few nice jolts. It's well directed by Bill Duke, has great period detail (love the cars!) and (aside from Givens and Hines) has plenty of good acting. So, if you like extreme violence, black humor and gangster movies this should work for you. I give it a 7.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A great comedy/thriller

9/10
Author: Cabbageandsprouts from London, England
9 July 2006

I think this is an underrated classic. A story of gold,double-cross,love,revenge and death all served up with great humour nicely by the main characters. The acting is great especially Forest Whittaker as the loser who eventually comes good. Robin Givens is superb and sexy in this role as she steals the gold from her partners and goes on the run. The late great Gregory Hines is also in top form as Whittaker's brother who is only interested in the gold at first. Badja Djola plays a memorably vicious villain and Danny Glover pops up as a rival gangster who "had another dream" about Givens - much to the fury of Djola. This film has some great comic moments. The music score by Elmer Bernstein is also superb.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Good, but nothing like the novel

6/10
Author: goatboy500 from United Kingdom
4 August 2006

This is a pretty good, violent, gangster romp directed with definite panache by Bill Duke. Forrest Whitaker plays a decent upstanding Christian boy how gets embroiled in hokey plot involving stolen money (or something) and Robin Givens. Different groups of parties are all after the dough (including Forrest's good for nothing brother Gregory Hines), when Forrest just wants the girl. Its pretty hackneyed stuff, but the players (in particular the great Gregory Hines and the baddass Danny Glover) elevate it to a standard that just serves to entertain and no more.

It also features a great recurring joke about a picture of Jesus that I won't spoil.

The only problem I have with this film is that the book it's based on is actually nothing like this. The first scene in the barn is lifted from the book, but everything else has been changed. The two cops in the film, Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed are Chester Hime's greatest creations, but here they're just an obstacle for Whittaker (who in the book is actually a supporting character and is a coward, here he is the against all the odds hero of the piece). If you haven't read Chester Hime's novels you won't notice, but be prepared to be disappointed with the liberties taken with the story.

On it's own though, this is an accomplished movie from the talented Mr Duke, who's next movie was one of the best of the nineties, Deep Cover.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Sing it again, Screamin' Jay!

9/10
Author: kennethwright45 from glasgow, scotland
12 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Includes one minor spoiler, but it's unrelated to the plot and really more of a recommendation.)

Surprised to see so few votes and comments for A Rage in Harlem - it was a modest commercial hit in Britain, so perhaps the all-black casting and setting just didn't play Peoria.

The tone of this stylish, good-looking period crime adventure swings wildly between brutal, raunchy, tragic and comic, but a clever, funny script and likeable characters - especially Gregory Hines's big-hearted wiseguy Goldy, but also several delightfully written minor roles - maintain attention and sympathy throughout what could otherwise have been a bumpy ride. It's an emotionally engaging film, much more character-driven than the average urban thriller of the 1990s.

Its purely incidental pleasures are many, topped by a splendid musical treat in the shape of cult R 'n' B hero Screamin' Jay Hawkins, giving a no-holds-barred performance of his voodoo classic I Put a Spell on You at the Harlem Undertakers' Ball. If you have a taste for the old school of black show business, this sequence will have you holding up the rest of the picture until you've given Screamin' Jay an encore.

Thrills, laughs, and pathos, dished up with verve and heart, make a film that many of us still remember very affectionately.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic period piece

10/10
Author: papanob from North Ga.
28 January 2012

I am totally surprised at the low rating of this film.I read numerous critic reviews to find that it was well received.I have a fondness for offbeat films and find myself at odds with critical reviews most of the time but in this case we choose to agree.I signed up to counter the one star rating left by the person who was afraid of what his girlfriend would think of him for taking her on a date to see this movie.(jeez)About the film...I was lucky enough to stumble across a print a while back,I was always a fan of "Cotten come to Harlem "and found this film much more enjoyable due to it's superb direction,well made sets and an excellent cast.The movie starts with a bang and never lets up.At times you will cringe and laugh at the same time,you get to see a famous blues player perform in a nightclub(EXCELLENT)and of course the best shot of Robin Given's butt ever committed to film.I loved it!!!!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Outrageous

10/10
Author: Newsense from United States
10 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Rage In Harlem is probably one of the most slept-on comedy/action features of all time. It had an all-star cast and didn't waste them and under the direction of Bill Duke, it succeeded in what it needed to be.

The story: Imabelle is a pretty female crook that leaves for Harlem after taking the money from the last heist she pulled with her crew with her. She meets up with a naive milksop named Jackson(Forest Whitaker)and uses his naiveté' to her advantage. She later ends up falling for him but things get worse when her gang shows up to his apartment.

A Rage In Harlem is interesting when its funny and is interesting when its not being funny. Its funny without trying too hard and it captures the 1930s era of Harlem. Plus it has nightclubs where people actually perform(hell, Harlem Nights didn't even have that). Forest Whitaker is good as the naive Jackson and Gregory Hines(RIP) is also good as his cousin Goldy. Robin Givens is great as the gorgeous but deceptive Imabelle. They have a little chemistry with each other even though I could do without the scene where Jackson licks her buns(YUCK!). Too raunchy for my taste. At any rate, A Rage In Harlem is one hell of ride from start to finish and is definitely worth being in your collection. Two thumbs up.

Also recommended movies by director Bill Duke: Hoodlum, Sister Act 2 Deep Cover.

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3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Hard to keep a straight face, or food down...

5/10
Author: Director Jim from Shawnee, OK, USA
28 June 2003

Watching this movie, I was reminded of Harlem Nights constantly. But, whereas the other is meant to be funny, I fear that 'Rage' is 5 stars short of being a good drama. I hate to spoil anything for the fortunate viewer that has yet to see the movie, but to avoid a sour stomach, pass on this one. I can only think of a few war movies that had more killings than this did. And with the 'can't-catch-my-breath' action (at times senseless), the movie-goer may just hyper-ventilate themselves to sleep.

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8 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Yeech!

1/10
Author: alex20850 from Rockville, MD
12 January 2005

Nasty, unforgiving, unrelenting blood sport. I watch war movies and don't bat an eye except for Saving Private Ryan, but this is downright sickening. I went because I liked Forrest Whittaker, but it was so savage, so sick with violence just for violent's sake that I was shocked. I also took a date and it was lucky that we had seen other movies together because she would have had real doubts about me if this was my kind of movie. The movie reminded me of news stories about people killing puppies and torturing cats. I still have nightmares about this movie. The reviewer for the Washington Post at the time called it an urban comedy. If this is his version of a comedy, I never want to see another one.

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