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Slam (1998)

Saul Williams , Sonja Sohn , Marc Levin  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, Bonz Malone, Lawrence Wilson, Beau Sia
  • Directors: Marc Levin
  • Writers: Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, Bonz Malone, Marc Levin, Richard Stratton
  • Producers: Daphne Pinkerson, David Peipers
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • 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: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: March 9, 1999
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000I1LN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,652 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Slam" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Music video "I Dare You"

Editorial Reviews

Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn. Gripping story of a small time drug dealer and street poet's prison time and his redemption at the hands of a creative writing teacher. 1998/color/103 min/R.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most vital films of the 90s October 23, 2000
Working in a video store, I've seen "Slam" repeatedly dismissed by white folks as "a black film", or "a movie about rappers". Please, don't let race distinctions turn you away from this film. "Slam" is one of the most noble uses of film I've seen in a long time. It challenges and provokes and creates intense thought. It is a ferociously intellectual movie, though not in a highbrow way. It has the unique ability to present complex and daunting ideas in a way that makes them unusually comprehensible. At the same time, it places a value on the process of writing and personal expression that has been woefully lost in the age of stuff-goes-boom movies. The performances - especially by Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, and Bonz Malone - are impeccable, and I'm not refering to just their dynamic slam poetry sessions, which are electrifying in a way that few passages of film are. If you see one movie this year, let it be "Slam".
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very raw, leaves its' mark December 3, 2004
This was a pretty intense experience. I recently became a fan of Saul Williams, and I had to have this movie. It's a dark, yet learning experience for a man(Raymond Joshua) who gets sent to jail for possession, is hunted for on the inside, gets bailed out but realizes he's going right back. It seems like there are a lot of movies about prison and black folk, but this one was a little different.
I thought Saul did quite a job for this being his first movie role. I think it's based in large part on his real-life self. Some of the acting was an eyesore, like the Chinese guy at the beginning, good God! A few of the other small parts were iffy, but I think the main characters, who are all pretty much unheard of, did fine. The best scenes to me were when Ray was about to get his ass kicked in the prison yard and he busted out with an exhilirating rap, and when Ray and the prisoner in the next cell were rhyming. The latter shows a contrast between two distinct rapping styles. The other guy was swearing up a storm kicking violent gangsta rhymes, while Ray's was intense, but loving, etheral, mystical, and mind-bending. The other guy's style represents what gets played the most on the radio and is popular, while Ray's embodies an 'underground' attitude and the style that Hiphop was created with. I am a huge Hiphop guru, and I prefer Ray's style, obviously.
Otherwise, the movie leaves an impression, and gets you thinking about the ways of the inner-city lifestyle, as well as that in the prison. The poetry was what set this movie apart. Ray and the main female(forgot her name) perform at a poetry slam at the end of the movie. I wouldn't give this a five-star, but it's still good and worthwhile.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It's a sign of SLAM's verisimilitude that I thought it might be a documentary for its first five minutes or so. (Not surprising, since director Marc Levin is known for his documentary work.) With only a couple of exceptions, the actors in it are amateurs, which actually works to the film's advantage.

Anyway, SLAM is a simple, sometimes dopey, sometimes thrilling story of a guy who winds up in jail, gets out, and might be heading right back in again. But both Saul Williams, the principal actor, and his love interest, Sonja Sohn (of THE WIRE) are real live poets, and man, does it show when they do their poetry readings... or "slams" as they are known.

And I'll tell you what: SLAM has some scenes that will knock your socks off.

There's one in particular where our protagonist avoids a fatal shanking in the prison yard by giving a dramatic reading of his poetry. One of his fellow felons says of the performance, "I still don't know what that nigga did, but it was fascinatin'." That was pretty much my reaction, too.

SIDENOTE: Yeah, that's crack smoker, prostitute patron, and former mayor of Washington, D.C. Marion Barry playing the judge. That was a cameo that blew my mind.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INTENSE March 20, 2001
After seeing this powerfully delivered masterpiece of raw street savvy and mental intellect, I was moved. Saul Williams, as well as Sohn and Malone, in Slam inspired me, rather this (I don't want to call it a movie) this interpretation of life forced me to release a pent-up energy that was kept down for far too long. The completeness of this fantastic journey through urban, USA is exhilarating and painfully forgiving. A must see for all, the performances in this work of art are as moving as almost any book that I've read; it does not take away from the viewers mental imagery, it only adds to it (not too often that a movie can claim this). 5-stars are not enough -- see for yourself.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars art is back July 9, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
When I finally too the time to sit down and watch this movie, I didn't know what to expect. I have always been a huge fan of poetry, the older stuff including pope, frost, Cummings etc. As well as some newer beat generation stuff including kerouac and gindsberg (i recently learned that Saul williams performed on stage with Gindsberg). Despite my love for poetry, i began watching this movie with a weary eye. Needless to say this lasted only a few minutes and soon i was completely entranced in the story of Raymond Joshua.This story does two amazing things, it addresses the inner city problems so many directors shy away from or glamorize as well as openins the audience's eyes to the miracle of modern day poetry. I, like many white middle class americans, was blind to the cultural renaissance taking place in the so called 'ghettos' of america. I guess it is a logical progression. Historically, art thrived where there was oppression, helplessness, and greed. The apathetic view government has applied to modern day black Americans fuels the hope and poetic freedom of this movie. By forcing the realization of america's inner-oppression, this movie is assisting in a struggle that has gone under-exposed for many years. Although it is practically laughable to make such a blunt claim, but this movie could change the world
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
The DVD came in great condition. Still freshly wrapped. Being that it's one of my favorite movies that's what did it for me that it was brand new
Published 7 months ago by joan plasencia
4.0 out of 5 stars Best film on spoken word poetry.
This film is what started the renewed interest in spoken word. Great depiction of the culture, art form, and a glimpse of Washington DC life in the late 90s.
Published 7 months ago by Kimberly G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Movie Ever!!!
Thank you for the expeditious service. I am so glad you had this video because no one had this. Cable service nada, Netflix nada! I am a poet. So, I love Saul Williams. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lady Zenobia
3.0 out of 5 stars SLAMs Social Cycle
SLAM tells the story of an African-American man whose talent for poetry is hampered by his social background. Read more
Published 10 months ago by uni aum Entertainment
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranium Expanding
Amazing poetry, intense and real feeling situations...this was one of those films that stays with you for days afterward. Read more
Published 10 months ago by KATHRYN A BOVA
5.0 out of 5 stars the best
i love Saul he is the best i remember seeing slam years ago and i remember how different it was from anything at that time. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lauren Armington
3.0 out of 5 stars back then
I had thuis one in high school...back when I was first hip to Williams work. I remember really liking this one...somehow the reunion was bittersweet. Read more
Published 16 months ago by EvenChance
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story and excellent poetry
This is the story of Raymond Joshua, a street poet and drug dealer who gets thrown in jail after his friend gets shot on a drug deal gone wrong. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Shaun Hennessy
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind for sure but not color blind
Washington DC at the end of the twentieth century right in the middle of gang wars and the very systematic trapping of negroes in drug dealing, street violence, vain aggressivity... Read more
Published on August 25, 2011 by Jacques COULARDEAU
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful!
It stirs up so many emotions in you and that to me is what a true...Powerful! Film must do...and Slam does that and more....a must have!
Published on June 13, 2010 by May
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