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Men of Honor

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of those rare films that grabs you by the gut and never lets go, Men of Honor was inspired by the life of Carl Brasher (Cuba Gooding Jr.), an African American who dared to dream of becoming a U.S. Navy Master Diver. Despite a bigoted training officer (Robert DeNiro) and a tragic shipboard accident, Carl never gives up and achieves the impossible in an incredible finish that will leave you cheering.


Men of Honor presents a great role model for younger viewers, yet it's rated R due to abundant use of the F word. With appropriate discretion, parents should allow their preteen and teenaged children to see this rousing if altogether conventional biopic inspired by the life of Carl Brashear. Played with gravity and gumption by Cuba Gooding Jr., Brashear was the first African American to become a master diver in the U.S. Navy, despite the lingering effects of segregation, opposition from Navy brass, and the amputation of his left leg following a tragic on-duty accident. Robert De Niro adds marquee value and salty bluster as Billy Sunday, the drunken, redneck (and fictionalized) Master Chief who watches, with gradual admiration, as Brashear attains his ultimate goal through sheer force of will.

This is all quite uplifting on its surface, but in attempting to hit the requisite highlights of an inspiring biography, director George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food) reduces Brashear's achievement to a succession of clichés, forcing Gooding and De Niro to battle sentiment with their noteworthy performances. As Sunday's neglected wife, Charlize Theron is completely extraneous; Hal Holbrook's diving-school commander is a ranting caricature; and newcomer Aunjanue Ellis barely registers as Brashear's wife (in part because their obligatory romance is handled with an utter lack of finesse). There's no question that Brashear's efforts are heroic and worthy of recognition, so Men of Honor serves its basic purpose. Still, one can't help but wonder if Brashear's story would be even more impressive with a more authentic treatment. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Alternate ending plus 11 deleted scenes with commentary by director George Tillman, Jr
  • Animated storyboards with commentary by director George Tillman, Jr
  • "Mater Chief: A Tribute to Carl Brashear" documentary
  • HBO "First Look" featurette
  • Brian McKnight music video: "Win"

Product Details

  • Actors: Cuba Gooding Jr., Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron, Aunjanue Ellis, Hal Holbrook
  • Directors: George Tillman Jr.
  • Writers: Scott Marshall Smith
  • Producers: Bill Badalato, Bill Cosby, Robert Teitel, Stan Robertson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2001
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXPP
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,115 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Men of Honor" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

This movie will make you really angry that this actually happened.
Lady in Red
'Men Of Honor' is a riveting piece of film making; it tells the tale of one man overcoming hardship, and achieving the immposible...his dream.
Nick G
It's a great and uplifting story, and when this movie is good, it's really good.
The philosopher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "flickjunkie" on April 21, 2001
Format: DVD
Military training films are becoming so common that they are becoming a genre unto themselves. Among the more prominent we have, "Officer and a Gentleman", "Top Gun", "GI Jane", and now "Men of Honor". The fact that this one happened to be true doesn't change the fact that the formula is the same. This film is probably most like "GI Jane" since it focuses on the desegregation angle.
The story is actually quite inspirational and is probably the best human-interest story among those mentioned above. Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is unquestionably a man of great courage and principle, and his strength of character shines through brightly in this film. Unfortunately, director George Tillman, Jr. has tunnel vision in presenting the characters and eschews character development of various characters other than Brashear in favor of showing Brashear in a constant state of adversity. Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) is a central figure, and except for the initial scene, the fistfight and a couple of scenes with his wife, we don't know much about him. For instance, Brashear sees the scars on Sunday's palms and we are to assume that he worked a plow, but there is no follow-up on that point. Mr. Pappy (Hal Holbrook) gets only one short scene by which we can judge him. The rest of his screen time shows him pacing around and ranting. If a director is going to make a human-interest story, he needs to humanize the characters.
Cuba Gooding Jr. gives an outstanding performance as Brashear. This is probably the best I've seen him. This is a role and a character that is far more complete than any part he has played before, and he rises to the occasion. In "Jerry Maguire", Rod Tidwell was a fascinating, but one-dimensional character with the depth of a rain puddle.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Noonie Fortin on January 29, 2004
Format: DVD
"Men of Honor" was another excellent film but it left me wanting to know more. It was the fact-based story of the Navy's Master Diver Carl Brashear. He was the first black man to attend and graduate from Diving School. Cuba Gooding Jr portrayed Brashear who at a young age decided he wanted to be a diver for the Navy. BUT when he entered the Navy blacks were only allowed in the kitchens.
After coming to the attention of his CO, Brashear was given an opportunity to attend the school he really wanted to. He came face to face with Billy Sunday played by Robert DeNiro. In many ways Sunday wanted to see Brashear complete the course but his commander portrayed by Hal Holbrook tied his hands. Eventually Brashear was successful.
As Brashear's career progressed, Sunday's fell apart. Then there was a terrible accident, which resulted in Brashear losing a leg. The Navy wanted to retire him but he fought to stay in. Sunday came to his aid and helped him recover from the amputation. He was by his side when Brashear had to go to court to fight for the right to stay in the Navy. The court scene was very moving.
Yes there was a little romance in the movie and yes there was vulgarity but this film was very good. However it left me wanting more so I will have to go find of copy of the book the movie was based on to learn more about this amazing man's life. I wanted to see more of his training, more of what he went through, and more of the treacherous dives he went on that made him what he became.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Liz on January 7, 2004
Format: DVD
I have heard some bad things about this film..."overdramatized fluff", "typical cliched writing" and so forth...
This film is so much better than the sum of its reviews.
First, the story--face it, it deserves to be told. This is about a real man who goes through the tenth level of hell and back to achieve his dream of becoming a Master diver. He has to face bigotry from his classmates and his superiors--the latter of whom are determined to fail him based on his skin color alone--and push himself past his limits to succeed. Yes, the plot was hokey in some areas, but a few hokey spots does not a bad film make.
Second, the acting. Only Cuba Gooding, Jr. could have pulled off the role of Carl Brashear, the diver in question. His performance was very well executed and brought me to tears in spots. Robert De Niro was wonderful as always, and I really don't care that Billy Sunday was a composite of Brashear's superiors throughout his career instead of a real person, because he pulled it off without a hitch. At times he reminded me of R. Lee Ermey, but the role would not have had the same depth if the latter had been cast--it was written for De Niro. The supporting cast was excellent as well--especially Charlize Theron and Aunjanue Ellis, whose roles, although small, were nonetheless pivotal.
The DVD version, both wide and full screen, includes a feature about--and narrated by--Carl Brashear himself, who was the head military advisor to the film, and it is definitely worth watching. I myself was amazed at the accuracy of the movie and was deeply inspired by this man who had had so much to overcome. George Tillman, Jr. did a wonderful job with his story.
Overall, I give it five stars out of five.
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