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Slam (1998)

R | | Drama | 7 October 1998 (USA)
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Slam tells the story of Ray Joshua, an original, gifted young MC trapped in a war-zone housing project known as Dodge City. Unable to find a job, Ray copes with the despair and poverty of ... See full summary »

Director:

Marc Levin

Writers:

Marc Levin (story), Richard Stratton (story) | 5 more credits »
Reviews
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Saul Williams ... Ray Joshua
Sonja Sohn ... Lauren Bell
Bonz Malone Bonz Malone ... Hopha
Lawrence Wilson Lawrence Wilson ... Big Mike
Beau Sia ... Jimmy Huang
Andre Taylor Andre Taylor ... China
Momolu Stewart Momolu Stewart ... Bay (Jail Rapper)
Ron Jones Ron Jones ... Do Wop Cop
Reamer Shedrick Reamer Shedrick ... Do Wop Cop
Allan E. Lucas Allan E. Lucas ... Chief C.O.
Dominic Chianese Jr. ... Officer Dom
Jerome Goldman Jerome Goldman ... Jail Class Poet 'Why'
DJ Renegade DJ Renegade ... Party Poet 'Diminuendo in Blue'
Liza Jessie Peterson Liza Jessie Peterson ... Slam Poet 'Ice Cream'
Taylor Mali Taylor Mali ... Slam Poet 'Like'
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Storyline

Slam tells the story of Ray Joshua, an original, gifted young MC trapped in a war-zone housing project known as Dodge City. Unable to find a job, Ray copes with the despair and poverty of his neighborhood by using his wits and verbal talent. Written by Offline Publicist

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Words make sense of a world that won't. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, a sex scene and brief violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rozgrywka See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,887, 11 October 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$982,214, 20 December 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Ray is on his way to the poetry night, he gets on the metro at the Cleveland Park station, rides, and gets off at the metro at the same station: Cleveland Park. See more »

Quotes

Ray Joshua: I am before, I am before before. Before death is eternity, after death is eternity, there is no death - there is only eternity.
See more »

Soundtracks

Juba
Performed by DJ Spooky (as DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid)
Written by DJ Spooky (as Paul D. Miller)
Under license from Asphodel Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

Flawed but powerful film – nicely different from the usual `black youth' movies
4 January 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Ray Joshua is a rhymer who survives on the streets of Washington by dealing drugs. When the leader of his crew is killed right in front of him he is arrested for possession and sent to jail until the trial. In jail he finds that the world is as violent inside as out and that his prison is in his mind and not the real world. Inside he uses his skills to stop violence and meets Lauren Bell who sees potential in Ray and encourages him to better his situation and get out of his cycle.

I am a major fan of HBO's Oz and one of the more interesting actors on there is a guy called muMs who does beat poetry. When I saw Slam coming on it reminded me of him and I thought I'd watch it. I like hip-hop which has strong lyrics so it's a little like that, although I do dislike the more pretentious side of street poetry – so I could have gone either way on this. Happily I really liked it on the whole. The film is energetic and doesn't just focus on `using the gifts to get you outta da hood' type message that I expected it to. Far from it. Instead it looks at the prison Ray is in both inside and out on the street and how he needs to get out of that. I was surprised but impressed by the writer/actor's message of accepting punishment for what you've done wrong but then make yourself free after your time is done.

The film isn't perfect and the director does like to have tonnes of sunsets and stuff in his films which take away from the real feel to it. Likewise Ray is written far too soft. Rather than focus on a youth is really is trapped in a bad situation and engrained in it, the film makes Ray very soft. He is `only carrying a few grammes' of stuff, he is kind to kids and doesn't see the need to take sides in prison. The film would have been better if the character had been less `good' at the start.

However knowing a little about how it was made, made me like the film more and respect it. It was made in 9 days. The rough scene structure was laid out for each scene, but it was all improvised rather than run off a word for word script. Knowing this I was impressed by how well it all worked and how good it looked. Williams is really good as Ray and carries the beat and the emotion really well. His skills are good and when he feels trapped and wronged – you believe him. He has a good chemistry with Sohn, even if her character is a little too clean looking for the past she rages against. The support cast are all pretty good save a few gangsta roles. Those in prison are believable and the poets/rappers are all pretty tight except a few pretentious ones in the show at the end of the film.

As a ghetto movie this is well above the norm and delivers a brutally honest message for black youth to accept what they are doing, bare the consequences but then to move on with their lives. This is refreshing and does more than a lot of the black comedies that we see a lot of rappers doing now – this film may help. Even if you're not into rap or beat poetry this film has enough power in it to keep you watching.


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