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Hoodlum (1997)

Laurence Fishburne , Tim Roth , Bill Duke  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia, Cicely Tyson
  • Directors: Bill Duke
  • Writers: Chris Brancato
  • Producers: Laurence Fishburne, Bill Duke, Chris Brancato, Frank Mancuso Jr., Helen Sugland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: February 4, 1998
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792838076
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,328 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hoodlum" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A flawed but admirably ambitious gangster movie, Hoodlum aspires to be a kind of Harlem-based equivalent to The Godfather, and while it falls short of that lofty goal it's still got plenty of qualities to make it well worth seeing. It's the first film to tell the story of Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson (charismatically played by Laurence Fishburne), an ex-convict who dominated the Harlem numbers racket during the 1930s and '40s. As he rises to power he gains equally powerful enemies, including hotheaded Bronx gangster Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) and the suave mobster Lucky Luciano (Andy Garcia). Determined to defend his Harlem turf against these invaders, Bumpy eclipses the "policy queen" Stephanie St. Clair (Cicely Tyson) and becomes a self-styled Robin Hood figure, attracting the attention of a community servant (Vanessa Williams) who must confront the brutality of Bumpy's business. A must-see for anyone who likes gangster movies, Hoodlum is certainly not a masterpiece, but sharp performances and some powerful scenes make it an interesting look at a little-known chapter in criminal history. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

OscarÂ(r) nominees* Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth and Andy Garcia set the screen ablaze in this riveting crime thriller exploding with spectacular gun battles and brutal action. In 1930s' New York, Bumpy Johnson (Fishburne) rules the Harlem numbers racket with a rare combination of honor, dignity and strength. But when savage gangster Dutch Schultz (Roth), threatens his reign witha series of bloody attacks, Bumpy knows that the only way to win is to play Dutch's deadly game. Asa vicious war spins madly out of control, so does Bumpy's personal life, and soon the mobster realizes that his only way out is to instigate a dangerous plan involving one of the most feared and powerful gangsters in history...mob chieftan Lucky Luciano (Garcia). Featuring outstanding supporting performances by Vanessa Williams and the legendary Cicely Tyson, Hoodlum is a thrilling, electrifying and suspense-filled adventure! *Fishburne: Actor, What's Love Got to DoWith It (1993); Roth: Supporting Actor, Rob Roy (1995); Garcia: Supporting Actor, TheGodfather III (1990)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Fishburne Performance! April 6, 2003
Among other criticisms of this film was that it was a below average gangster flick, well I didn't see it that way. There was a lot of focus on the characters especially Fishburne's character Bumpy Johnson. Of course the movie highlights his rise in Harlem as opposed to Tim Roth's character (can't spell his name). The dialog was well written, I think that people were not ready for a gangster flick set during the era of Lucky Luciano and the Dutchman, involving a significant number of black characters. Yes I think African Americans were doing something during that time period besides wait for Dr.King to have his "dream". Fishburne played a strong character who took his destiny in his own hands and I think that's really what makes this film highly enjoyable to see.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unknown Gangster December 16, 1999
By A Customer
Hoodlum is based upon the true story of Harlem's most unsung hero. Ellesworth "Bumpy" Johnson was an icon in the Harlems number racket and was a man who helped keep the Italian mobsters from taking over Harlem's underworld sooner than they did. He kept peace between rival Italian gangsters and was well respected by most of them. This man actually lived and Hoodlum portrays an accurate interpretation of his life. I rank it on the same level as the Godfather. It was a well acted and suspensefull movie. It is a must see true story based upon people who actually lived. All gangster film lovers must see this. All people who are interested in the history of Harlem's criminal underworld that kept the people from starving during the Depression must see this movie.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Gangster Flick!!! July 9, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
It may not be Goodfellas or The Godfather, but Hoodlum surely holds its own as a great gangster movie. Not much is known about Bumpy Johhnson, perhaps the most powerful black gangster of his time, and this movie brought his story to light. This film is time spent very, VERY well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Get ready for your final thrill" August 4, 2008
This movie might not have won any awards or gotten praise by these high brow snobs but its still an excellent piece of work directed by Bill Duke(who stared in Commando, Predator, Exit Wounds, National Security and Busta Rhymes' Dangerous video) with excellent performances from an all-star cast.
Set in the Depression Era of 1930s Harlem, The only way people could make money was through the "Numbers racket which is ran by Stephanie St. Clair(Cicely Tyson) also known as " The Queen". An arrogant and brash gangster called Dutch Schultz wants to take control of the numbers game and ends up bumping heads with Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson(Laurence Fishburne) who is just released from jail. These two get into a series of wars and everything starts to get out of control. Laurence Fishburne as well as Tim Roth were great in this film. Andy Garcia played it mellow as Lucky Luciano but he was better here than he was in 8 Million Ways To Die. There are also some solid performances here by Cicely Tyson, Chi Mcbride(Illinois) and Vanessa Williams(Bumpy's love interest). As far as complaints I have none. Hoodlum is well written and well acted. It pays homage to gangsters but doesnt glorify them. I tip my hat of to Bill Duke for this one. Two thumbs up as high up as they can go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoodlum January 1, 2010
Tells the story of how Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson helped Madame Stephanie St. Clair keep Dutch Schultz from taking over her Harlem numbers racket. A classic gangsta movie with a good storyline all the way to the finish. I liked the modern-like prohibition type theme to this movie. A different twist to the Al Capone era. Interesting throughout the movie.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS SETS, SPARKLING CAST, ORDINARY MOVIE. January 17, 2004
Hoodlum's sets and costumes are fabulous, the production value is very high, and the movie really conjures up an idea of what life must have been like in 1930s Harlem. I'm no authority, but I wonder if this level of
bright sunlit freshness was an accurate depiction of Harlem.
The movie gets gorier by the minute, until it draws to a very bloody end. Performances are not bad at all. Tim Roth - an actor I don't usually like - puts in a great performance as the psychotic-racist Dutch Schultz. Andy Garcia is excellent as Lucky Luciano. Vanessa Williams does her jig well. But the one performance that stands out is Fishburne's, very controlled and convincing.
The movie is not original after the movies we have been exposed to (good man turns all selfish when he sees the world around him) but it's a pretty decent gangster flick nevertheless if you like this kind of stuff. There's plenty of action -- in all senses of the word.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb February 12, 2006
By Tish
This movie, contrary to what others have said, is a great black gangsta film. What draws my attention the most, and makes this such a great film is the dialouge between the characters. This film makes one feel as though they are stepping into the 30's and getting a good glance at life back them. Great script, and excellent acting on the parts of Fishbourne and Tyson. The set was done great, but overall I was most impressed with the interaction between characters. The lives of blacks in Harlem portrayed thru their cultural accent and gift of gab.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic gangster movie! August 16, 2009
They had so much style! It shows that not only can you be a bad ass but you can do it with style. I liked the fact that the time setting just went with it. I got to admit Dutch was my favorite because he was a fool throughout the entire movie.
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