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Hoodlum
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Reviews & Ratings for
Hoodlum More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Trading numbers for bullets.

5/10
Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
16 March 2003

Bill Duke directs this highly fictionalized tale about 1930's gangsters Dutch Schultz(Tim Roth)and Lucky Luciano(Andy Garcia)trying to take over the "numbers" business in Harlem. There is one big problem...Bumpy Johnson(Laurence Fishburne). When the story line goes a little flat; out comes the switch blades and tommy guns. The violence really doesn't take up that much screen time, but when it does it is ruthless and savage. A very good supporting cast includes:Clarence Williams III, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson and Queen Latifah.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

not a bad little flick

Author: Real Critic
14 January 2002

Dramatic, but not very moving gangster flick benefits from a powerful performance from Fishburne, a calmly cool performance from Garcia, and an insanely ruthless performance from Roth. Enough shoot em up action and violence to spare, but the film is long and takes it's sweet time getting there. 2/4

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining but ultimately shallow gangster film that's been done before

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
28 January 2002

`Harlem 1934. In a world impoverished by the great depression, the single largest business in Harlem is an illegal lottery known as the `numbers'. For many, a winning numbers slip is the only chance to put food on the table. The undisputed leader of the Harlem numbers is Madame Queen, who has run this multi-million dollar business quietly and peacefully for over a decade. Notorious gangster Dutch Schultz has defied the wishes of his partner, crime chief Charles `Lucky' Luciano and decided it's time to share in the profits. There is only one obstacle in Dutch Schultz's path of destruction. His name is Ellsworth `Bumpy' Johnson.'

That's the legend that comes on screen before the film starts, it basically tells you everything you need to know about the plot. Essentially it's an old fashioned gang war style film - it even has the spinning newspaper headlines and the background shots of people firing machine guns! The story holds no surprises and it's nothing new, however it is entertaining enough stuff if a little too long for it's own good.

The way it is put together is very workman-like way. It has all the old tricks that other gangster films do and it doesn't do anything new. As such the cast don't do anything special either. Fishburne is nowhere near his best, he could have done this in his sleep. Similarly Garcia doesn't do anything special. Roth however hams it up wildly with his American accent thick as ever. The support cast stick to their stereotypes well - Williams plays the beautiful `virgin' type sucked into the gangster world, and various henchmen do their thing well. The cast does have some terrible performances - many of the black gangsters in fact are quite bad. The worst by far is the actress who played Madame Queen. She isn't convincing for one second, her accent is ridiculous and her performance is bad ham in every scene.

Overall it's entertaining, although could have easily been 30 minutes shorter. However it's nothing special and nothing new. Given the cast involved I was really disappointed with the end result and expected better.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Good film; sadly distorted history

8/10
Author: Joseph Harder from warren michigan
8 April 2000

This is , on the whole a very good, if mostly unoriginal period gangster film.The performances are solid, if unspectacular, the direction is assured and sometimes innovative, with some clever original touches and one or two nice "hommages" to Scorsese, Coppola, and the the thirties classics of Wellman et.al. The biggest problem with the film is the utterly ludicrous portrayal of Tom Dewey. Dewey was arrogant, cold, and self-righteous; he was not corrupt.Indeed, he was the second best district attorney in America during the thirties ( Earl Warren, in Oakland, California was the best)and one of the best state Governors in American history. Once again, if you are a Republican and a W.A.S.P, you can be accused of anything.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Doesn't tap potential

5/10
Author: robo8 from Sweden
30 July 2014

Pros: Great cast, really nice costumes and settings. Fairly good story.

Cons: Edgeless directing. Poor acting on some parts. Poor stunt fighting. Poor dialogue and some irrational behavior from characters.

Let me first dream what this could have been with the right director; a dark, realistic, gangster drama with both emotions and action, as well as memorable performances.

A reality check gives me a bleak movie. It is not exactly bad, but it never takes off in any way. It starts off with a street fight, so poorly performed you'd think it Star Trek from the 60's. It really makes it feel like you're watching a play, and that feeling sticks.

The cast is great, although some subpar acting exists. Mainly from the duo of Chi McBride and Loretta Devine, who sometimes seems to play a parody of Afro American stereotypical acting. The weak dialogue and unsharp cutting/directing, hampers the rest of the cast though.

What you'll get is a walk through a nice setting, seeing some nice people along the way. But the only thing you'll remember is what it could have been.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Bill Duke don't have game

5/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
6 September 2013

Director Bill Duke is attempting a grand gangster movie, but really don't have the skills of a master filmmaker to pull it off. The pace is ponderous. And even the action is unenergetic.

Bumpy Johnson (Laurence Fishburne) is a gang leader of 1930's Harlem whose successful 'Numbers' racket attracts ruthless Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) from downtown. Meanwhile gangland boss Lucky Luciano (Andy Garcia) try to negotiate his way in. Bumpy refuses to give in, and violence ensues.

There are a lot of great actors, but there are also some distracting overacting. Laurence Fishburne is great, and Tim Roth is wonderful as a bad guy. But I wouldn't recommend this even with these great actors.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Vanessa Williams has no place here.

7/10
Author: fedor8 from Serbia
10 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A pretty good "old mobs" mafia picture, this time with a black gang in the forefront, which is a breath of fresh air. The cast is good, with the exception of Vanessa Williams who is blah; here's a fixed-my-nose Miss-America-Contest winner that both sings and acts; clearly she has been allowed by too many casting and record-company bozos to overstretch her limited talents. Talk about the legendary Hollywood "casting couch"! Tim Roth takes a while to get used to, with his phony New Yoyk accent; casting an Englishman, even one as terrific as Roth, to play a 30s NY mobster with a heavy accent is definitely what I would call unnecessary – to put it mildly.

There are plenty of interesting twists and turns and goings-on, including good action scenes. However, a couple of them weren't too credible; firstly, the assassination attempt at Fishburne was far-fetched, and, secondly, Roth's death is too unrealistic and over-the-top. When one compares this movie's Schultz and Luciano, and the way they were shown in "Billy Bathgate", then one has to wonder which is more accurate, since the two sets of portrayals tend to differ. But considering they're both Hollywood version, both I assume are way off the mark, as entertaining as the movies may be.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

worth watching though it still seems to be lacking

Author: Special-K88
17 April 2002

Ambitious mobster saga dramatizes of the turbulent rise of Ellsworth 'Bumpy' Johnson (Fishburne), an ex-con who gained fame and recognition as a powerful crime lord by taking on the volatile Dutch Schultz (Roth), and the fearsome Lucky Luciano (Garcia) for control of the numbers racket in 1930s Harlem. Well-crafted, vividly designed period piece goes on too long, and lacks the spark that it really needs to make it soar, but there's still lots to grab your attention with well-defined characters, and an array of good performances, especially Fishburne who's very sly and authoritative as Bumpy Johnson, and Roth who's totally over-the-top as the trigger-happy Dutch Schultz. **½

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

not a bad little flick

Author: Real Critic
14 January 2002

Dramatic, but not very moving gangster flick benefits from a powerful performance from Fishburne, a calmly cool performance from Garcia, and an insanely ruthless performance from Roth. Enough shoot em up action and violence to spare, but the film is long and takes it's sweet time getting there. 2/4

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

An interesting cover dos'nt judge us a brilliant film

Author: davideo-2 from United Kingdom
2 September 2000

STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal Instead*Avoid At All Costs

Hoodlum had been available for quite a while ,and,as it was in the £1.25 section,I picked it up with one of the main titles I was renting out.This gangster thriller has an opening cover that proposes us with quite a benevolent film,but,ultimately,having seen it,it dos'nt suprise me so much why it ended up going straight to video over here.

There was one particularly unpleasant scene where Tim Roth's charecter hands over a man's testicles across a table.It was intriguing to see him as a Brooklyn gangster,but he did'nt really pay off the way I was expecting him to.Andy Garcia gave a more toned down,but still effective,performance as a gangster with a distinctive accent,having previously performed in The Godfather Part 3.And Laurence Fishburne was also engaging in the lead role.Here,he has collaborated with Bill Duke again,who he also was credited with in Deep Cover,but,unfortunately,the results here hav'nt been quite as successful.The film has a warbling,self styled tenacity that dos'nt really pay off on the audience.

However,that's not to say it's completely dreadful.The charecter's are engaging,the storytelling is praiseable,and ,for those who care about that sort of thing ,the film is relatively bloodthirsty when it needs to be.**

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