• R, 1 hr. 35 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Francis Ford Coppola
    In Theaters:
    Oct 7, 1983 Wide
    On DVD:
    Sep 8, 1998
  • Universal Pictures


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Rumble Fish Reviews

Page 1 of 45
Eric S

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2013
I forgot about this one, and it is worth seeing if you haven't already.
As a long time percussionist and fan of the brilliant work of Stewart Copeland, his score alone kept me engaged. Then again, you have the great Dennis Hopper as the drunken father, pre-plastic surgery Mickey Rourke as the former rumble leader called "Motorcycle Boy", and Matt Dillon as his younger brother who attempts to slip into that role while waiting for his return.
Throw Diane Lane in there as Rusty James's(Dillon) girlfriend in crime and his friends portrayed by Chris Penn and another pre-plastic surgery actor by the name of Nicolas Cage, and things may get ugly amongst the black and white film where only the rumble fish show their color.
Mark W

Super Reviewer

June 12, 2010
Released back-to-back with his previous 'teen-novel' adaptation "The Outsiders", Francis Ford Coppola attempted another of S.E. Hinton's books. Like his previous release, he assembled a brilliant cast but approached it in a different style. This time, the results were far more impressive.
Rusty James (Matt Dillon) is a troubled young man from a broken background. His mother left him years ago and his father (Dennis Hopper) has turned to alcohol. He's the leader of a small gang in a time where gang fights are dying out and most people of his generation still idolise his absent older brother 'The Motorcycle Boy' (Mickey Rourke). Rusty James refuses to accept and believes he can make as much a name for himself as his legendary sibling. When his brother returns to town, the life that Rusty James envisioned begins to change.
Admittedly, I never got around to reading the book on this one and given Coppola's sumptuous visual take on it, I'm sure it would have made for an interesting comparison. Much like "The Outsiders", this also has a feeling of a teenage audience at heart but is executed with much more darkness and depth. Coppola's use of monochrome - with momentary flashes of vibrant technicolor - is simply astounding and quite beautiful to observe. Several scenes throughout the film border on surreal and dreamlike and the intense performances add to this; Matt Dillon is on great form as the tearaway teenager who can't stay out of trouble and as his brother, Mickey Rourke delivers a character of quiet, tortured intensity. The rest of the cast are great also with Dennis Hopper playing the alcoholic father and Laurence Fishburne, Chris Penn and Nicolas Cage making up the rest of Rusty James' crew. Added to which, there is a welcome cameo appearance by Tom Waits, mumbling his way through a short but memorable character. Coppola once described this film as "an art-film for teenagers" and coming from the man himself, there is no better description. It might have been experimental or ambitious for him at this time but it still stands as one of his most visually refined pieces of work. Special mention must also go to Stephen H. Burum for his ethereally stunning cinematography and Stewart Copeland (from the band "The Police"), for his unsettling and impressionistic score.
This makes a perfectly dark companion piece to the lighter side of "The Outsiders". They couldn't have been shot any more different and if viewed together, would make a great double bill.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2012
I remember when The Outsiders came out, I watched it and enjoyed it but what I remember most is my sister and her friends going mad over it, more precisely, its cast. Rumble Fish passed me by, probably because of its higher rating but until now I have to admit I never knew of the connection between the two. It's a little bit like a mainstream Jim Jarmusch film, an '80s doing the 50's' Rock n' Roll noir, complete with ultra cool characters, striking black and white film (with occasional splashes of colour) and a certain disjointed charm. It feels like there is something not quite right about it though, but in turn, that might be what I really liked about it - it didn't quite work but if it had been this ultra-glossy tidy production, it would have been laughable. Definitely of its time and great to look back on, the cast is pretty unbeatable. The Outsiders for the Girls and Rumble Fish for the Boys? Matt Dillon's 'out of body experience' scene is fantastic!

Super Reviewer

November 29, 2011
The Motorcycle Boy: If you're going to lead people, you have to have somewhere to go. 

"No leader can survive becoming a legend."

Since first watching Rumble Fish, it has grown and grown on me. Initially I liked it, but thought it was lesser Coppola, not nearly as bad as Jack, but not even as good as one of his more average movies, Tetro. The more I have thought about it, the more I have really started to like the film. I love these brother movies, where the younger brother tries to be the older brother, but can't. There is so much truth in them and this one one is extremely well done.

The movie opens with Rusty James being told that another street punk wants to kill him and challenged him to fight. We then learn through conversations with his friends that Rusty's brother has been gone for awhile. His brother is a legend on the streets; he is The Motorcycle Boy. When Rusty James and his gang go to the fight, The Motorcycle Boy shows up too and the two brothers start hanging out again. From there, there isn't too much plot. It is all about the brothers and what it means to be a leader and shit like that.

The Motorcycle Boy is such an awesome character. He is played by Mickey Rourke and I don't think there was an actor better suited to play him. The character is like James Dean's from Rebel Without a Cause reincarnated. The guy is tough, but he is also soft spoken. He is color blind and doesn't hear all that well. He looks old for his age, probably from all the partying and fighting. The Motorcycle Boy is a leader and a smart, philosophical brother to  Rusty James and all Rusty wants his to be like his brother when he grows up. 

Maybe it isn't The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, but I still think this shows off just how good Coppola is. It shows how flexible he is as a filmmaker and further proves his immense talent. There is only one thing that hurt the movie and that was knowing the ending way too early. Not that we were told of it, but that it was too obvious. It was the only way it could end. Still a beautiful film from Francis Ford Coppola.
Mark H

Super Reviewer

July 8, 2008
Francis Ford Coppola's follow up to The Outsiders was a critical and commercial flop when originally released in 1983. Panned for being over-stylized and lacking a clear narrative, audiences shunned the film. Yet it is those artistic touches that set the film apart. Black and white cinematography, which recalls French New Wave cinema and German Expressionism, never looked so beautiful. In fact, this surreal film more resembles life in the mid-50s, despite being set in the modern day. Stellar cast adds to this visually arresting teen drama about streets gangs and sibling relationships.
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

June 1, 2007
Mickey Rourke's laid-back charismatic attitude and Stephen H. Burum's hypnotic photography are the key elements of this striking surreal moral tale.
Mike T

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2007
This visionary burst of artistic expression is one of the strongest installments in Coppola's directorial canon. Rumble Fish is one of his most unique and compelling works, a film that pulsates with crazy energy and bold ideas. Beautifully shot.
Marcus W

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2007
In the hands of some European wannabe director this would be a dull black and white noir. In Coppola's hands it's a mesmerising film with possibly the greatest use of black and white cinematography, plus a great score that keeps the film energised and stops drag. It's also the best I've seen Rourke. A must-see for film lovers. A deserved classic.
Adam M

Super Reviewer

June 2, 2009
Arty, noir-ish drama with Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke about 2 brothers, one a cool as fuck biker who nearly everyone in town worships and the other, a thug and dreamer who tries to live up to his brothers reputation. Their boredom at the town they live in has forced to make up stories about the old days and gang fights but the reality is they come from a shitty little town and are desperate to leave like everyone else. This looks really good in black and white and has good performances from Rourke and Dillon as well as appearances from Dennis Hopper, who's brilliant as the dad, Diane Lane as Dillon fit girlfriend and Nicolas Cage as a friend of the brothers. This is a well made film by Francis Ford Coppola, visually stunning and well acted.
Lee K

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2008
Pretty good adaptation of the susie hinton novel, that has a very very cool matt dillon and a cool backing cast.
February 13, 2009
A lost classic a perfect blend of American New Wave,The German Expressionists,The French New Wave and Italian Neo Realism. Amazing cinematography should be considered among Coppola's finest achievements of his career along "The Godfather" trilogy,"The Conversation" & "Apocalypse Now". It is one of the few masterpieces of the 1980's.
September 5, 2007
I liked the style, but S.E. Hinton writes about "bad boys" in the way only a woman can, which is to say with a concentration on the "sensitive" sides of their culture of gang violence. yuck. As a man it is tough to like this kind of stuff; who likes seeing nice girls run off with bikers? Well, only if it is funny, and it isn't in this film.
December 13, 2010
Great S.E. Hinton story. A little more "artistic" that "The Outlaws". Matt Dillon! Mickey Rourke! Diane Lane! Nicolas Cage! Vincent Spano!
January 28, 2009
Coppola's weird gang films like The Outsiders don't resonate with me -I guess being a girl, there's something about them I just don't get -but I thought Rourke's role in Rumble Fish was a showcase of his talents for playing that sort of seedy, shady character that he does so well. The rich tonal range of the photography, and the portrait-like composition of the shots in Rumble Fish really magnified Rourke's skill, the way sugar brings out the flavor of sour cherries in a home-baked pie.
March 18, 2009
Pretnetious and artsy-fartsy. I assume this was filmed at the same time as The Outsiders considering they were released in the same year and had a lot of shared cast members (the strength of both movies). Coppola is so hit-or-miss.
October 6, 2009
wow what an coincidence with starring matt dillon & diane lane, director francis ford coppola, & novel of s.e. hinton that all the same as with "the outsiders" (i believe that movie release first) in a SAME year that movie release. i like this one better than "the outsiders". i really like that character name...the motorcycle boy who performed by mickey rourke of "the wrestler". what a shame they in with black & white movie that with an some of color sequences.

diane lane's character....kinda HOT!
October 1, 2009
1. pussygang
2. shitty dubbing
3. chris penn slapping himself
4. francis ford coppola directed this?
June 15, 2009
It was a very faithful adaptation of the book- I can say that. It was one of those movies to where you either loved it or hated it. There was hardly an in between. I thought it was good. I still can't believe that S.E. Hinton (the author of the book) was a hooker in the movie. It was a wierd cameo for her. But it was just liked The Outsiders when Matt Dillon's character, dallas, was arguing with the nurse, her. But I thought it was a good movie for those pepole who like Hinton and the movies by Coppola.
May 5, 2009
It was a great movie but a little bit confusing. I gues you have to read the book to sort of understand it, but it was a really interesting movie.
March 11, 2009
In black and white, with the characters very black and white in themselves. Introduced America to several super stars. Moody, well filmed -- very stagey in concept. Ahead of its time. Also see "The Outsiders" -another Coppola "teen" film.
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