Definitely Worth Seeing
J. Moser | 02/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie (which claims to be based on true events) compellingly deals with the struggle of America's first black heavyweight boxing champion against racism (both black and white).Far from being pointless, the movie (adapted from a successful stage play) realistically presents the outrageous way this man is treated for having the "audacity" to win the heavyweight championship from a white man, have a relationship with a white woman, and openly celebrate both of these facts. He is shamelessly persecuted by the governement (using obscure laws never intended for the purpose) and disowned by some in the black community for being a "traitor" to his own race and a bad role model to young blacks who admire him.The acting is superb, and the story (set in the early 20th century) takes on an added dimension when one considers how closely it parallels the events of the year it was released (1970 - a time when Muhammed Ali had been deprived of the right to box for several of his best years due to his refusal to be drafted into the U.S. armed forces; many have argued the real reason for this was that he scared and outraged some white Americans, being a vocal, opinionated black man who embraced the teachings and religion of Malcom X). there are a number of people who have seen this relatively obscure movie and who think very highly of it."
James Earl Jones at his finest....
safe_harbor_books | CONCORD, CA USA | 04/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a remarkable and forceful film, well written and directed. Jones shows a physical prowess that does not come through in any other film I have seen him in and carries the role with a natural grace. Sharply exposing the prejudice of the time, it is also unfliching in the portrait of a man brought to ruin by the forces around him, with not a little assistance from his own feeling of being untouchable. Highly recommended."
Powerful, Compelling, and still QUITE relevant
Raider Jack | San Francisco, CA United States | 06/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As an 18-yr old, I vividly remember when this movie came out and the swirling controversies that accompanied it. Whites were cautious because it openly dealt with not only an interracial love affair but because of the depiction of an unrelenting, proud, but very angry black man. Interestingly enough, with the advent of Black Power/the Revolution and the emergence of the Black Panthers, most black audiences were equally cautious as well and for exactly the same reasons. Also keep in mind I was living in the South then too. Even in 1970, few southern towns would actually show the film.
This is a variation on the real-life troubles of Jack Johnson, one of boxing's earliest contenders.
Hands down the most compelling performances are those of James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander that leave an indelible imprint on the viewer. Because of the racial fabric of the time, Jack knew he was asking for trouble by openly defying white authority and then compounding that by becoming involved with a white woman. Both undoubtedly knew full well what they would be up against. While they may have deeply loved each other in the beginning, they soon discovered that simply love does not conquer all.
The movie is also filled with treasures of African-American performances by the likes of Beah Richards, Moses Gunn, Roy Glenn Sr. and Virginia Capers. This alone is worth the price of admission.
In many instances it is most difficult to watch. Two mesmerizing and thoroughly wrenching scenes were Jane's suicide and when Jack and company were reduced to performing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in Europe to survive.
The film is most certainly uncompromising which was a MAJOR achievement given the social fabric at the time. James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander both deserved Oscars for their performances but that would have been like condoning their whole situation and god KNOWS Hollywood would NEVER have done that.....(sigh) Another example of not being able to see the forest for the trees.
Nonetheless, this is an eeeeeeeeeexcellent film and most worthy of your movie collection