Taking a Punch Below the Belt
Review by Ross Anthony

Entitled "Hurricane" and whirling with hype, the film is good, but doesn't quite pack the stormy punch you'd rightfully have anticipated. Less a fight movie, and more a quiet emotional story of one man's endurance in the face of racism and injustice.

In a black and white 1966 clip, boxer Ruben "Hurricane" Carter muscles his helpless competitor to the canvas, woven into this sequence is a color 1974 sequence in which an imprisoned Carter prepares to defend himself against reactionary guards. An excellent introduction after which the film experiences an early lull of about a half-hour. Also the caption "7 years later" appears on the screen confusing the time line issue (7 years from '66 or '74?).

Carter's autobiography serves as a convenient way to cover past history. The stuttering stubborn boy who plays a child Ruben Carter sets the stage well for the experienced Washington who is very good, but never breaks loose (performance speaking). An hour or so into the film, a black teen (Lesra) home-schooled by three white communal Canadians, becomes engrossed in Carter's book "The 16th Round." This is when we as an audience are given a sympathetic eye through which to view the drama. No longer innocent by-standers, we become drawn into the ring by Lesras' passion and compassion. It's the relationship between Ruben and Lesra that gives "Hurricane" its thunder.

"Hate put me in prison, Love's gonna bust me out." The picture is seldom short of this kind of schmaltz and Ruben is nearly always shown in a virtual angelic light. Still, "Hurricane" endears, its positive message strongly resonating.

  • Hurricane. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Denzel Washington, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Live Schreiber, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya.
  • Directed by Norman Jewison.
  • Written by Armyan Bernstein, Dan Gordon based on "The Sixteeth Round" by Ruben Carter Based upon "Lazarus and The Hurricane" by Sam Chaiton.
  • Produced by Armyan Bernstein, John Ketcham, norman Jewison at Universal/Beacon (C)2000. Rated R.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:09:13 PDT