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Standard Urban Drama Without Any Drama
Michael_Elliott29 January 2018
Above the Rim (1994)

** (out of 4)

Kyle (Duane Martin) is an intelligent black kid who is growing up in a rough neighborhood but he might have a way out when he gets some interest from various college scouts. Kyle's friend gets him involved with a drug dealer named Birdie (Tupac Shakur) who offers him some great stuff but he doesn't realize what might be connected to it.

When you look back at the early 90s, Hollywood was cranking out a lot of urban dramas thanks in large part to the sucess of BOYZ N THE HOOD. These urban dramas look at a variety of situations so it was only a matter of time before the basketball courts became the plot and the end result is ABOVE THE RIM.

I don't think there's any doubt that the filmmakers had their hearts in the right place but the movie just doesn't work as well as it should have. The biggest problem is that there's really nothing new here. You've got a smart kid who isn't bright enough to see why he shouldn't be connected to this drug dealer. You've got the bright kid who is also a whiz at basketball, which is going to attrack sharks because of the money aspect.

All of this is told is a familiar fashion and what's worse is the fact that it doesn't throw us any surprises or anything else for that matter. The film and the characters basically play out as you'd expect them to so there's really nothing here that keeps the drama up.

The one saving grace are the performances, which include nice work from Martin, Leon and Marlon Wayans. You've also got a nice performance from Bernie Mac in a supporting bit. The film belongs to Shakur, however, you once again showed what a major talent he was in the acting field.
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Any brilliance that exists only exists because a better version of the same brilliance has been forced to repress itself
marieltrokan1 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
For a change that's impossible to create a change that's possible, it's incumbent that the impossible change is the fact of sameness and that the possible change is the impossible fact of sameness. The change that can't exist must honour the condition of being a copy - the change that can exist must honour the condition of being unique.

To orchestrate a change into existence that can be copied, the original change needs to obey the condition of being unoriginal. It's compulsory, that the original experience is an unoriginal experience so that it can create an experience which is original.

The objective, is to create an experience which is the right to be free from the condition of being a copy - to create something that has the ability to enjoy being unique.

The objective is the enjoyment of uniqueness; this makes the means to the objective the criticism of inspiration. Criticising inspiration is the way to create the enjoyment of uniqueness.

Uniqueness that's enjoyable isn't an enjoyable experience and it isn't uniqueness. Uniqueness that's enjoyable is a despicable experience that's merely a typical experience.

In order to purify the enjoyment of uniqueness, so that it isn't a source of hostility, it's necessary for rational criticism to self- destruct. Criticism that's informed by reason needs to lose its status, and allow itself to be exposed as an experience of reality that doesn't deserve to be copied.

Since criticism that's rational can't be copied, this leaves the enjoyment of uniqueness the freedom to just be fun and unique - if criticism that's rational can lose its status, then why on earth should the enjoyment of uniqueness feel threatened by criticism that isn't rational?

Rational criticism is the balance of violence that's innocent: the enjoyment of uniqueness is a reality which deserves to be an innocent violence, but can only attain that identity through sacrifice.

Above the Rim is a masterpiece, as it's about a true version of a truth sacrificing itself so that a false version of the same truth can exist.

Any brilliance, that exists in the universe only exists because a better version of the same brilliance has been forced to repress itself
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silly looking opening scene
SnoopyStyle16 November 2015
Kyle Lee Watson is a cocky high school basketball star. Bugaloo (Marlon Wayans) is his loudmouth friend. Flip Johnson (Bernie Mac) is a local homeless guy. Tommy Shepard (Leon) is a high school security guard who secretly used to be a star player. His brother Birdie (Tupac Shakur) is a local drug lord. Shep starts going out with Kyle's mother. Kyle falls under Birdie's influence.

This movie starts with a ridiculous scene. Shep and his friend are playing basketball on the roof of a building. There's no fence. The friend tries to dunk and smash through the backboard falling to his death. The setup is stupid to begin with but it also looks stupid. It takes awhile for the movie to regain its credibility. It helps that there are some good acting going on here. I especially like Leon and Tupac. They are compelling brothers. I really like their story and their chemistry. The rest are solid. I just wish they redo that opening scene.
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Performances,Music And Basketball Scenes Overcome Average Screenplay
Desertman8425 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Above the Rim tells a story of a promising basketball player in high school who is torn between his relationships that could ultimately affect his decision in the future especially when there is a great possibility of slipping into crime.It stars Duane Martin,Leon Robinson,Tupac Shakur,Bernie Mac,Tonya Pinkins,David Bailey and Marlon Wayans.The screenplay was written and directed by Jeff Pollack with Barry Michael Cooper and Benny Medina acting as co- writers.

Kyle Watson is a talented basketball player who is about to graduate from high school. While waiting for the decision of whether Georgetown University will provide him a full scholarship or not,he gets into difficult dilemma in a playground basketball tournament.He is conflicted by a decision as to whether play or not for his beloved coach Birdie,who happens to have great influence on his life and is known as a thug in the neighborhood who is pressuring him to join his gang.Also,he gets into deep resentment towards Thomas "Shep" Shepherd,a failed star basketball player as he ended up as a security guard at a high school where Kyle is studying.As the movie progresses,we learn not only of Kyle but also about the characters that surround him.

While the story can be considered both formulaic and melodramatic,it would definitely be a threat for basketball fans as it contains a lot of great basketball action scenes.Also,the characters in the story are considered compelling and interesting enough as the cast were able to provide great performances that provides depth to them that somehow overcomes average script.Special mention should be given to the late Tupac Shakur,who definitely is a wonderful actor.And who can forget the soundtrack especially those whoa re fan of rap music?Overall,it is one of the 90's movies that one would surely enjoy at present while this review is being written.
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Above the Rim
Phil Hubbs17 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Very clichéd and dated gangster/basketball flick set in NY as a young black teen tries to get a basketball scholarship whilst battling against a local thug and his former basketball star brother who is now a security guard at their high school.

Everyone in this film is a walking cliché. Shakur is yet another gangster (he couldn't do anything else...useless), Wayans is annoying and camp as usual, Duane Martin is the annoying loud mouth cocky star player and Leon is the quiet dark horse and probably the best thing in the film.

Basically you have all the usual gangster nonsense with all the hilariously bad street clothes worn by Shakur and co. Lots of foul language dodgy deals guns drugs and various adults trying to get these dumb asses to grow up and get a life.

Looking back now this movie does seem extremely predictable cheesy and stereotypical, hell the movie is virtually racially profiling these guys from the outset. Thing is back in the day these movies were popular and deemed fresh gritty realistic stories from the hood, showing the middle/rich classes life on the street and how blacks youths were badly treated.

To me these movies only tended to damage minority groups, giving young blacks a bad reputation. Sure its only a movie but there were so many like this back in the 90's and most revolved around crime drugs and shootings. But hey that's just my thoughts, maybe I'm a bit out of touch too.

The only decent thing in the whole film is the small segments of basketball and the competition at the finale which does show some good genuine skills. Only at the end does this movie really come alive...and it reminded me a little of 'White Men Can't Jump' minus the goofy comedy.

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A lot going on in the movie, pieces itself together at the end very nicely
darkchaoschao31 May 2013
This movie revolved around two people, a kid in high school who's dream is to play in the NCAA for the Georgetown Hoyas, and an older adult who was on his way to the NBA, but now refuses to pick up a basketball and is in deep depression due to a past event (that you will see right at the beginning of the movie).

I thought this was a great movie. It didn't lack substance, and throughout the whole movie, there is a lot going on... but everything pieces itself together at the end.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes basketball, dramas or 'hoodtales.
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Above the Rim is another drama about life in the streets that offers a more hopeful message than what I've seen recently
tavm27 February 2012
After about 18 years, I finally watched the entirety of Above the Rim on YouTube. In this one, Shep (Leon) has nightmares of the time his buddy Nutso (Matthew Guletz) was killed when they played basketball on the roof of an apartment. Several years later, he becomes a guard for various high school basketball games in which one Kyle Lee Watson (Duane Martin) is the star player who's in danger of becoming too arrogant for his own good to the chagrin of his coach Rollins (David Bailey) and his mother Mailika (Tonya Pinkins). In addition, he and his friend Bugaloo (Marlon Wayans) are hangin' with a drug dealer named Birdie (Tupac Shakur) who we find out is Shep's brother. Other somewhat important characters include a bum named Flip (Bernie Mac) and an associate of Bridie's named Motaw (Wood Harris). I'll stop there and just say this was quite a compelling drama with some humorous scenes involving both Mac and Marlon, not to mention Iris Little Thomas as a waitress who tries to come on to Shep. And unlike some other films that I watched recently that dealt with ghetto life, this one seems to lean toward a more hopeful ending for some of the more deserving characters. So in summary, I quite enjoyed Above the Rim. P.S. Both Ms. Pinkins and Harris are natives of my birthtown of Chicago, Ill.
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Vibrant movie...
jlird8083 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
To be honest I think one of the reasons this movie gets a bad rap is bcz of its lead character, Leon as "Shep". While I know he's supposed to be the quiet, brooding, self-loathing type I don't think he plays it VERY WELL. I like when he gets kinda nutz and rude sometimes but he doesn't play the quiet weird type very well (its a hard emotion to portray visually I think). There's times when it just seems fake...I'm not really feelin the pain and hurt that he's felt since Nutso died.

That bein sed, every other character and actor around him is on- point and vibrant and bleeds off the screen. Kyle AND his mom, coach, Bobby,OF COURSE Tupac, Motaw (I'm a soldier.....a SOLDIER!!), Bugaloo (u need a role model...), and TOTALLY UNSUNG in the movie is Bernie Mac as Flip (daffy duck with his beak blown off). Though Bernie's only in two scenes, its deadly accurate as that sad/strong/confident/weak homeless dude.

Some ppl say that this movie is predictable and cliché but I'd have to say that, while certain parts are (Shep's joining the shootout, Bombers winning) I TOTALLY did not expect Mo to do what he did..and then for Bugaloo to do what he did in the end. When Mo pulled the gun I thought it was gonna end like Menace II Society and Kyle was gonna get it. Then I thought Shep wouldn't make it...I was wrong on both accounts.

Anyways great movie...I like Leon, I just think maybe he's too confident himself as a person to play someone who's supposed to be WEAK (at first at least).
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Below the average
p-stepien9 November 2011
Kyle Lee Watson (Duane Martin) is the star basketball player at his high school, but his overly developed ego limits him from reaching his full potential. However via trials and tribulations he slowly starts finding the right path, in some part thanks to an unwilling mentor in the form of the school security guard Shep (Leon), who used to be NBA material, until one day tragically (and unintentionally comically) his best friend plummets to his death after trying to dunk. His brother on the other hand is local badboy Birdie (Tupac Shakur), who took to crime after Shep bailed out on the family.

Despite B-movie credentials the presence of Tupac Shakur seems to have torpedoed the popularity of "Above the Rim". The story however remains derivative throughout, whilst the secondary plot is more than a tad schmaltzy, thrown in for good measure to introduce a father figure for Kyle. In addition to that the director Jeff Pollack goes extremely by the book, avoiding any turns or twists. Keeping it simple doesn't however work, as the resulting story is plot-thin and scarce of emotion. Once it gets to the ultimate and predictable show-down no connection has really been created between the viewers and the characters, hence no real enjoyment in watching this purposeless flick.

Some key scenes are plain funny, unwillingly drawing a smirk to your face, while certain situations are blunderingly solved with disregard to logic and reason.
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Good basketball movie
gangstahippie6 March 2008
Rated R for Language and Some Violence

Above The Rim is one of the few films rapper Tupac Shakur was featured in.This is the second film of his that I have seen, the other being Juice which was also a great film.Not many rappers are good actors(look at 50 Cent in Get Rich Or Die Trying, even though I liked the film, 50 Cent wasn't a very good actor).But Tupac is a great actor in both films and probably in all the other films he was featured in.Above The Rim is a basketball film about a young promising basketball star who meets this security guard who used to be an all star on the team he was in.The man's brother(Tupac) is a drug dealer.The film basically shows his relationship with the two and how the security guard is dating his mother.Because of this and other reasons, he dislikes him at first but then starts liking him.The film also stars Marlon Wayans who provides the comic relief in this film and Bernie Mac as a bum who knew the security guard.Above The Rim has good performances and is overall a good film.I would say just as good as "Juice".
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Great hoop movie.
Dan P4 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Kind of low ratings, this movie should never be rated, even by hater below 6. I think is around 8 or 9 though. Is a street movie, integrated with the hoop dreams of high-school phenom. The story line is dope, has some real entertaining characters. Am not going to write out the whole plot, watch the movie.

Probably one of my favorite sport movies, with Any Given Sunday. You get some real elements. Kyle Watson the high-school phenom, gets caught up by the elements of streets. Pac, in the movie plays the main bad guy in the movie Birdie, a very manipulative character, with a very dark side, dude slashes a bum to death with a razor from this tongue, played by Bernie Mac, for talking smack about him. LOL. Anyhow everything collides when Kyle decides not to play along Birdie in the tournament, and things get hectic. The hoops in the movie is raw, some real ballers, not some white men old man that can't even ball, and disgraces the game of basketball. Hoop fans would love it, people that love street movies will love it. Very entertaining characters to add.
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Classic Movie
jermaine-miles27 February 2007
When i read some of comments that have been posted on this movie i felt as though something was missing. Someone needed to comment on this film who was actually a part of the culture that is being shown in this film. I am a black male who went to see this movie the weekend that it was released. As far as the hood is concerned, this is a classic movie. The cast was perfect, especially for the time of it's release. It was a movie set in the East Coast, but Tupac was a stand out star, and the entire soundtrack was done by Death Row. Shakur gave a great performance through out, along with Dwayne Martin. Leon was also featured in another film celebrated by the black community more than anywhere else, The Five Heartbeats. Not to mention Marlon Wayans doing what he always does. Wood Harris, who later goes on to "The Wire" fame, portrays a very aggressive character. The comedic legend Bernie Mac is featured in a good role also. I know that movies aren't black or white. They are just movies, but it is evident that there are a slew of movies that are celebrated a lot more in the black community than anywhere else. Menace II Society, Juice, New Jersey Drive, Above the Rim, Belly, Paid in Full, and this film are "Hood" classics. If you want to even begin to understand the logic behind some of the themes of this genre, then this is a very good movie to start with.
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Criminally underrated sports film
fullenw3 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I don't know if a Above the rim is seen as a sports flick. Either way its a classic.

When I say classic I don't mean a boring movie that was good in its heyday. I mean a fun movie combining inspiration, comedy, drama, great acting and great cast.

There's 2 stories rolled into 1. Tommy Shepards problem pretty much brought him down. Kyle Watson on the other hand is a high school basket baller that if he plays his cards right will avoid the same fate as Tommy Shepard.

Recognizable cast as well. Definitely a must-see. Especially with Marlon Wayans and Tupac. This is perhaps Duane Martins and Leons best performance ever.
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above the rim!
Menace_II_Society0523 July 2006
This has to be one of my favourite films of all time,2pac,Marlon Wayans,Duane Martin show their acting ability's in this film and would recommend it to any one that is a fan of Pac, Marlon,Duane and basket ball or just wants to watch a real good movie. I can watch this 5 times in one day and it will still be as good as the first time i ever saw it.its a comedy/drama some serious and funny moments in this movie and is good from start to finish,it keeps you thinking and unpredictable to what might happen next and thats how good it is...the movie is about a teenager who can have a basket ball scholarship to collage but ends up throwing' it all away for money cars,and woman promised by birdy(2pac) a gangster leader but it ends it bad results.the soundtrack is as good as the movie i recommend you buy it,You can purchase it on ebay or most music stores in city's..

recommend it 100% !!!!!!
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this here is gangstaaa
dj_patto9023 June 2006
Yo was sup I'm telling u man I saw watched this movie about 3 times on the day I got it- Christmas 2005 and the only reason I would have done that is because it is the best movie on planet earth, yeah I'm prepared to make that statement, damn man this movie is tight man and it stars the late Tupac who is a better actor than I would have expected man I seriously think the guys in this movie must have played basketball at a high level cause you ain't gonna teach actors to play ball THAT GOOD. They definitely did a good job at making this movie and I would advise all Basketball lovers to watch this movie trust me you will absolutely love this movie and not to mention the gangsterous soundtrack which completely sets the mood for many of the scenes, it's a shame that Pain by 2pac is unreleased and is only on the casette version of the soundtrack as it is a GREAT song. anyway Peace out
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Great Visuals - {Mad Sound Track}
bmarcovic27 March 2006
The film, Above The Rim is no Star Wars, It's just a darker version of "White Men Can't Jump" with more creativity on the well developed basketball dribbling and dunks visuals. It's a must see for any sport/rap fan with the best soundtrack - thanks to Tupac Actor/Rapper dropping monster rhymes. The plot is a little light, but can't we all understand that we are not watching this movie for the plot but for the action. The basketball and music culture of America is superbly linked into the grim, street culture of the ghetto. The subtle use of basketball as a view into the street culture of America, is unique and original to this movie. This movies is a must for all DVD collections and deserves a 10. Thank You.
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a QUALITY film that any baller will appreciate
josepharake25 February 2006
An absolute all rounder. The cast, the plot, the basketball all come 2getha 4 an absolute stunner of a film. The Medina/Pollack influence is clear (Fresh Prince), the film offers a realistic portrayal of life in the hood.Wayans is on a mental one the entire film, while Leon gives a far more sombre, dark performance as the traumatised player who could have had it all.Tupac......Tupac is Tupac and it don't get any better (or realer) than that. The film has some slight issues regarding the love interest (Kyle's mom and Shep)which I don't feel is entirely necessary, but my girlfriend thought it was cute so the film has the potential to appeal to all.But it, rent it, watch it, steal it, borrow it...do something to see this film and remember...."Recognise mother******!"
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Good hood/sport movie
roddick-125 August 2005
This movie is definitely a memorable hood movie, don't know why it's not up their with the others.

The thing that stood out the most in this movie was that it is not a basketball movie. It's a hood movie. I was expecting it to be a basketball movie set that just happens to be in the hood, but no. Still, it's got a lot of action packed exciting basketball scenes in it. While it's not a basketball movie, any fan of basketball should enjoy it.

Overall it's a good movie. Should be a good watch for fans of hood movies, fans of basketball, or both.
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A good early film about basketball... Tupac's best performance
PersianPlaya40811 August 2005
This is one of my guilty obsession type films. Most of the young actors (at the time), gave their best performances. The film is a bout a young basketball player who goes through a lot of trouble in his last year as a high school star point guard. Duane Martin shines in this role, perfectly casted, nice performance by the young actor. Tupac Shakur gives his best performance ever, better than his over-the-top Juice in which he was also impressive. Marlon Wayans, also gives one of his best early performances, not doing too much, didn't annoy me here. Leon's performance wasn't that great, hes not the best actor. I also liked Bernie Mac in a very hilarious role. The film is not perfectly acted, but Martin and Shakur carry it. Its a good screenplay, directed well, with great basketball scenes as well. great film 9/10
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Basketball with a heart...
bubsy-314 December 2004
I bought the DVD of Above the Rim at my local Video Store when they were having a going out of business sale. I primarily bought it to see Tupac's acting since I've been a fan of his music. I watched this movie while working out on the treadmill, and it's great for that.

Tupac's performance wasn't quite up to what I expected, I'm sorry to say. Perhaps I would have felt differently if I had seen the movie at the time of its original release, or at least before seeing the wonderful Tupac Resurrection. But the other actors are fine and somewhere in this basketball picture is a subplot that "has a heart". It's several steps above your typical "teenage hood" movie, and a solid 7. I also appreciated the DVD's "English Subtitiles". I wish that they could be made standard. (You appreciate it when you want to workout at midnight and watch a DVD when others want to sleep!)
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The most underrated basketball movie ever
IrockGswift28 August 2004
This movie deserves more credit then critics should give. This movie had an all star cast as the up and coming Marlon Wayans,Tupac Shakur,Leon,Duane Martin,Henry Simmons,Bernie Mac,and the lovely Tonya Pinkins. Each actor played their part magnificiently and it was hip,touching,and realistic. The beginning was a little off when Leon dreamed of his best friend's death and then focused mainly on Duane Martin's basketball skills,and him trying to get into Georgetown University. Marlon Wayans was the comic relief in the film who's been released from prison. Bernie Mac was the homeless man who was interested in basketball but never made it. Tupac was the ruthless street hustler and the coach of a dirty playing basketball team. There were other former R&B stars who starred in the movie but only had small parts. To wrap it up in a nutshell Above the rim to me is one of the most memorable urban basketball movies I've ever saw.
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One of the better urban basketball movies...
sauce9867 March 2004
...in that it isn't complete crap. Duane Martin does a nice job of portraying Kyle Lee Watson, a highly recruited high school basketball player, and Tupac Shakur (as Birdie) is as stellar as he always was. Leon's performance could have been more, though. The plot was realistic, showing just how difficult that situation is for many young basketball players today. Bernie Mack's small role is a memorable one. But of course, Marlon Wayans is in it, so that brings the film down a notch or four. The end basketball sequence is a very good one, having many actual New York City Playground Legends come in and just show their stuff for the movie. Duane Martin's a very nice player in his own right, having actually had a tryout with the New York Knicks at one point. I don't think he ever hit a game winner for Georgetown, though.

Overall - 6/10
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Pollack direct s a fine time piece...
christophaskell4 September 2003
I had a few problems with this film. First of all, the entire B story with Sheppard was a little hokey. The tragic death of a best friend, and the best name the writers could think of was 'nutso'? Oh, and the dream sequence in the beginning I thought was really funny, in other words very poorly made. Those things aside, I enjoyed 'Above the Rim'. It was not a great movie, but it was an exceptional basketball movie, and a great time piece. Pollack captured the fashion and language of the mid-90's very well, and if nothing else this film will be fun to watch in twenty years as a reminder of what once was. Rating: 21/40
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A Hip-Hop Classic
raysond15 April 2003
Can you believe that this movie was made over 10 years ago? It is very hard to believe but this movie has stood the test of time and it is highly regarded as one of the greatest basketball/hip-hop movies ever made. Here you have a star studded cast which features Duane Martin, Tonya Pinkins,Marlon Wayans,Bernie Mac,Leon and the late great rapper/actor Tupac Shakur(2Pac). Here you can see why Tupac was highly respected not only as a celebrated gangsta rapper,but also a great actor with an impaccable skill and broad range and here in this movie you see why. A film that is not to be missed. Rating:***** five stars.
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One of the best urban sports movies ever...
whoTheFuqRyou14 March 2003
Wow!!! for one it's a good story about talent being corrupted by the street game, nicely directed good performances from Duane Martin, Leon, Bernie Mac, Wood Harris and the late Tupac Shakur. Marlon Wayans is used in a good way in this movie, he was pretty interesting. Jeff Pollack knew what he was doing directing the basketball scenes.

Great movie
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