The story of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.


Norman Jewison


Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter (book), Sam Chaiton (book) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Denzel Washington ... Rubin Carter
Vicellous Shannon ... Lesra (as Vicellous Reon Shannon)
Deborah Kara Unger ... Lisa
Liev Schreiber ... Sam
John Hannah ... Terry
Dan Hedaya ... Della Pesca
Debbi Morgan ... Mae Thelma
Clancy Brown ... Lt. Jimmy Williams
David Paymer ... Myron Bedlock
Harris Yulin ... Leon Friedman
Rod Steiger ... Judge Sarokin
Badja Djola ... Mobutu
Vincent Pastore ... Alfred Bello
Al Waxman ... Warden
David Lansbury ... U.S. Court Prosecutor


This film tells the story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, an African-American man who rose above his troubled youth to become a top contender for the middle-weight boxing title. However, his dreams are shattered when he is accused of a triple murder, and is convicted to three natural-life terms. Despite becoming a cause celebre and his dogged efforts to prove his innocence through his autobiography, the years of fruitless efforts have left him discouraged. This changes when an African-American boy and his Canadian mentors read his book and are convinced of his innocence enough to work for his exoneration. However, what Hurricane and his friends learn is that this fight puts them against a racist establishment that profited from this travesty and have no intention of seeing it reversed. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His greatest fight was for justice. See more »


Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Denzel Washington lost 60 pounds to play the lead role. See more »


The CLRV streetcar that whizzes by in the background when Lesra sends his first letter to Rubin Carter in Toronto, wasn't introduced to Toronto streets until 1979. See more »


[first lines]
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, this fine young fighter will be right here in Pittsburg on the boxing cog, this Monday night.
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Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Sports Biopics (2015) See more »


Get Down on It
Written by Ronald Bell, J.T. Taylor (as James Taylor), George Funky Brown (as George Brown), Robert Kool Bell (as Robert Bell), Claydes Smith (as Charles Smith), Robert Spike Mickens (as Robert Mickens), Eumir Deodato
Performed by Kool & The Gang
See more »

User Reviews

basically a work of fiction
2 October 2001 | by dtucker86See all my reviews

I need to warn people who watch this film, even though Denzel is a great actor who always gives a fine performance, to say the least this film needs to be taken with a grain of salt because its basically biased fiction with extensive "dramatic license". I have done some research and there are some facts you need to be aware of. First of all, Carter had an extensive criminal record, he was 29 years old when arrested for the Lafayette murders and had spent 11 of those years in confinement of some sort! The film shows him as a child rescuing a friend from a child molester and then stabbing him in self defense! Wrong! Carter actually beat a defenseless man over the head and stole his watch. He was always getting in trouble for fighting and beating up people, that was why he was sent to juvenile hall. He escaped in 1954 and spent two years in the Army (he was dismissed for unfitness after four court martials). He then went to jail for four years for assaulting and robbing three people. This film makes it look like he was pursued by a Javeat-like, bigoted detective named Della Pesca who "set him up" for the murders. There was no such person. Vincent De Simone was the real detective assigned to the case. According to all accounts he was a very nice man and an outstanding police officer who was not a racist or had anything against Carter. Also, contrary to what this film would have you believe, Carter was not unfairly robbed when he lost a decision when he fought for the title. Carter himself admitted this in an interview. Bob Dylans song The Hurricane said "they put him in a prison cell but he could have been the champion of the world". Carter lost eight of his last fifteen fights and wasn't even rated when he was arrested. In a 1964 Saturday Evening Post article Carter talked about going up to Watts and shooting cops (I could get about four or five). He owned an extensive gun collection and was feared by the people in Paterson. Is it any wonder he was considered a suspect! Like I said, this is a good film, but its just not true.

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Release Date:

14 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lazarus and the Hurricane See more »

Filming Locations:

Canada See more »


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$384,640, 2 January 2000

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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