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A Rage in Harlem (1991)

tomatometer

71

Average Rating: 5.9/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

55

liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 3,225

My Rating

Movie Info

Bill Duke directs this quirky film adaptation of Chester Himes' crime novel -- a heavily plotted gangster tale with a sweet love story hidden underneath. The film begins in Natchez, Mississippi in 1956. During a police shoot-out with the mob leader Slim's (Badja Djola) gang, Slim's moll Imabelle (Robin Givens) takes off with a cadre of stolen gold. As a result, Imabelle is chased by Slim's mob from Mississippi to New York. By the time she reaches Harlem, she is broke and has to figure out a way

Sep 2, 2003

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All Critics (33) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (12)

With its snazzy Elmer Bernstein score, its snappy period flavor and its all-star cast doing something completely different, A Rage in Harlem should have been much more fun than it is.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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Jazzy and jauntily funny.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
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As the movie becomes increasingly violent and unpleasant, the characters chase around after each other in a threadbare gangster plot about a trunk of gold.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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[A] flamboyant, engaging action comedy.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
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Duke and company have been true to Himes' brash, blaspheming spirit, and that is no small thing.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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Bill Duke's Harlem has the heft of an imaginatively heightened reality; it's a great place to visit.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
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It bleeds for a kind of Harlem justice, as its intense black characters act tough, nasty, sexy, twisty, heroic and lively.

August 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A Rage in Harlem is the kind of film that, every ten minutes or so, requires violent bloodshed or a sexual rendezvous to prevent audiences from becoming glassy-eyed and slack-jawed.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Based on Chester Himes's novel, this is a stylish, fast-moving and often humorous thriller from Deep Cover director Bill Duke.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Underneath the fancy trappings, however, is a disappointingly ordinary caper movie that moves far too slowly for a picture of this type.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

That extraordinary cast, directed by Bill Duke, has little to do other than idle between sporadic outbursts of sadistic violence.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

It's largely a cheap looking, tawdry affair, with tortuous interludes in which the humour devolves on gratuitous unpleasantness or tired old bad jokes at the expense of women.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Bill Duke directed this mixture of high energy and low vulgarity, which doesn't do justice to the talents of its mostly black cast.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

A Rage in Harlem is an uneven combination of comedy and carnage. When it's good, it's very good. When it's not, it's simply bloody.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

It's hard to believe but this film offered the first to feature a black glamorous woman--Robin Givens--since Diana Ross's ill-fated Mahogany.

October 31, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Strong adaptation of Chester Himes' pulp thriller

January 26, 2005
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for A Rage in Harlem

(Includes one minor spoiler, but it's unrelated to the plot and really more of a recommendation.)

Surprised to see so few votes and comments for A Rage in Harlem - it was a modest commercial hit in Britain, so perhaps the all-black casting and setting just didn't play Peoria.

The tone of this stylish, good-looking period crime adventure swings wildly between brutal, raunchy, tragic and comic, but a clever, funny script and likeable characters - especially Gregory Hines's big-hearted wiseguy Goldy, but also several delightfully written minor roles - maintain attention and sympathy throughout what could otherwise have been a bumpy ride. It's an emotionally engaging film, much more character-driven than the average urban thriller of the 1990s.

Its purely incidental pleasures are many, topped by a splendid musical treat in the shape of cult R 'n' B hero Screamin' Jay Hawkins, giving a no-holds-barred performance of his voodoo classic I Put a Spell on You at the Harlem Undertakers' Ball. If you have a taste for the old school of black show business, this sequence will have you holding up the rest of the picture until you've given Screamin' Jay an encore.

Thrills, laughs, and pathos, dished up with verve and heart, make a film that many of us still remember very affectionately.
October 16, 2009
matertenebraum

Super Reviewer

Average comic thriller interesting only for it's unusual adaptation of the book upon it was based, as it concentrates on the crooks rather than the cops.
December 7, 2006
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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