A Rage in Harlem (1991)

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Bill Duke directs Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines and Robin Givens in this spot on Chester Himes adaptation.

There is nothing like a good crime writer for capturing the lingo, feel, opportunities and dangers of a time and a place. And Chester Himes’s Harlem novels are some of the best for this. This vibrantly loyal adaptation captures the rhythm and sprawl of his yarns retaining the much needed violence and the authentic humour. Well cast to even the bittiest of parts, with Robin Givens the stand out as a knock out grifter. Her charming performance is the ultimate con, distracting us and the other players with a little help from an impressive series of period true, spray-on dresses and sometimes even less. After a blisteringly lively and sexy first hour of shaggy dog storytelling the denouement is a little too contained to impress quite as much. One late 15 minute slog seems to take place on a sole sidewalk with little ingenuity. But all in all this will leave you with a broad, dirty smile on your face come the credits. A proper videoshop 18 certificate treat.

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