Spike Lee's 1991 story about an interracial relationship and its consequences on the lives and communities of the lovers (Wesley Snipes, Annabella Sciorra) is one of his most captivating and focused films. Snipes and Scior... more »ra are very good as individuals trying to reach beyond the limits imposed upon them for reasons of race, tradition, sexism, and such. Lee makes an interesting and subtle case that they are driven to one another out of frustration with social obstacles as well as pure attraction--but is that enough for love to survive? John Turturro is featured in a subplot as an Italian American who grows attracted to a black woman and takes heat from his numbskull buddies. --Tom Keogh« less
L. Kelsey | Riverside, CA. United States | 08/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of Spike Lee's best films, "Jungle Fever" comments more on race relations in America, than on the subject of adultery. Spike is all over the place with his take on male/female relationships, the devastation wrought on a family and the Black community by crack cocaine, the "color line" in the Italian community and interracial relationships. But he seems to pull it all together to make a powerful film and one of the best of the '90s. The acting is terrific with the standout performance being Samuel L. Jackson's as Gator, Wesley Snipes ill fated brother. He's charming, comical and evil all at once. And Wesley showed his range as an actor through his performance as Flipper, the "good son," who has a momentary lapse in character and has an affair with his secretary, Annabella Sciorra. All the performances are great and the actors get you to care about the characters they present. Wesley's performance came after the strong work he did as Nino Brown in "New Jack City" and I don't remember an actor "flippin' the script" on the movie going public like that, going from evil to good, in one year in a long time. You could look at Flipper and Angie as symbols of Black and White America, trying to come together and the obstacles we face as a nation when we don't deal with the issue of race honestly. Something we're still going through. This film also deals with our dishonesty with dealing with the drug problem too, and this is where Spike deserves credit. No one is left unexamined by this tale of life and there are no happy endings either from Gator being murdered by his father, to Flipper and Angie breaking up. I love how Spike begins and ends the movie. Spike shows in the beginning a couple, obviously in love, in Wesley and Lonnette Mc Kee, (in a strong, small supporting role as Drew) that leads you to believe nothing could tear them apart. When you get to the end, Wesley and Lonnette are trying to make a go at it, but through Lonnette's tears, you see she's just going through the motions, hoping to put away the pain through the lovemaking. When she tells him "he better leave now," you can tell the hurt she's experienced can't be "loved away" like he'd like.Critics of this film usually state Spike should have stuck to telling one story. What must be said is that while Spike explores a range of contemporary issues in this film, he has made a film of power and emotion, that definitely draws an opinion out of you, one way or another. An underrated, overlooked masterpiece."
thomas angelo zunich | long beach, ca USA | 07/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jungle Fever showcases alot of brilliant performances by so many actors involved in this film. The most powerful, disturbing piece of acting is performed by Samuel Jackson as a strung out crackhead. The first time I saw him in this movie it gave me goosebumps. His "devil dance" at the end of the film is so disturbingly frightning, it elevates Samuel's acting to a whole other level. Spike Lee is a genious and he gets the most out of his actors. i absolutely love and admire his filmaking. The movie is an emotional rollercoaster. Don't be misled, it's not only about interracial dating, it also examines the psychological affects interracial dating has on the family. This movie probes into the lives of all the other people involved. Creatively directed and rich with color and a timeless soundtrack by Stevie Wonder, Jungle Fever is a Spike Lee classic of epic proportions. And you can't beat the price! *No, i don't work for either Spike Lee or Amazon.com, I just think this is a great film!"
Another fantastic and honest Spike Lee movie ;-)
Little Miss Cutey | Melbourne, Australia | 02/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great movie. It's very sad to watch in some respects. The colour of someones skin should not create the problems that occured in this film. It shouldn't matter if you are black or white and fall in love with your 'opposite'. It should come down to the kind of person you are. This is an honest look at the way people can react to interracial relationships which I hope has changed over the years since this was made. Wesley Snipes does an excellent job here (he's so hot - and I'm white but yet I LOVE him) and Spike Lee does another excellent job at direction. Samuel L Jackson and Ossie Davis are great and one of my all time favourite female movie stars Annabella Sciora is tremendous as the mistress of Wesley. She's Italian and has her own problems with her family understanding her. Overall, this is an exceptional film (with a younger Halle Berry) that also has a great soundtrack. Lots of music by Stevie Wonder, and great acting by all. You have to see this for yourself - you'll love it."
Spike's Racial Fever
Dennis W. Wong | 06/25/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Spike has said in an interview that when he sees an interracial couple that he wants to throws darts at them. After seeing part of this terrible, cluttered film on cable--I can see where he's coming from. I particularly felt sorry for the 2 main actors in the film, Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra, their parts were terribly written resulting in caricatures. The only saving grace of this movie was Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal as Gator, Snipes drug addict brother. That's the only reason I gave this film an extra star because if he wasn't in it, this film would be totally unwatchable!! Lee has a tin ear for dialogue maybe he should study David Mamet or Elmore Leonard on that aspect. There was an opportunity in the film also to comment positively on the inter-racial aspect of romance with the subplot involving John Turturro's infatuation with a Black female in the neighborhood but again Spike blew that aspect to bits on that. And as far a director of actors, he allowed the great Anthony Quinn to over-act!! So along with "Mo Better Blues", I've been unable to watch a Spike Lee film in its entirety with the exception of perhaps "Malcolm X", "Clockers" & "The 25th Hour" (Edward Norton) but those films weren't written by Spike!! So if you really serious about cinema, check out better directors like Bill Duke (Hoodlum), John Singleton (4Brothers, Shaft) or Carl Franklin (One False Move, Devil in Blue Dress, One True Thing). These brothers have it, Spike, no way Jose!!"
Not quite catching the fever...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 08/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
In preparing to write my own review for this film I happened to read The New Yorker's review posted on this site and realized that it took the words right out of my mouth, so please, forgive me if this sounds a tad repetitious.
On with the review...
I finally got around to watching `Jungle Fever' last week. I have to admit that all week I've been singing `Jungle Fever' to just about everyone I see, and at times even to myself (that song is just so catchy) but when it came to actually dissecting the film I realized that as a whole there isn't much to remember. Knowing that the basis of this film is a heated affair between a married black man and his white (Italian) co-worker you'd think that there would be a lot to write home about, but the affair is really only here to spark heated debate about whether or not the white women are stealing the black men. Once Flipper (yeah, that's his `real' name) and Angela `do the deed' they seem to become detached and uninterested with one another and the film spars off in another direction completely.
Spike Lee has always been a director for racial controversy, and for the most part his studies work (they tower above the mediocrity that is Tyler Perry, that's for sure) but `Jungle Fever' seems to get lost in its own opinions and ideals. Lee doesn't seem to be able to transfer his feelings on the subject of `race relations' in a coherent and tactful way. Everyone's conversations on the matter are completely one sided and only prove to further embellish stereotypes, which is not something I expect from Spike Lee's work.
In moments, `Jungle Fever' reaches `Crash' depths of racial shallowness. What `Jungle Fever' does have on its side is its age. Whereas `Crash' was trying to paint every situation as racism in a time that has advanced so much in that department, `Jungle Fever' has the advantage of being from a time (early 90's) when racism was a lot more prevalent and so when Flipper is passed over for partner because of his skin color it is believable.
That said; it still tends to go a little too far in moments.
In fact, when you remove the stereotypes and racial approach to the film you find the most intriguing and effective aspect of the film; Flipper's brother Gator (I know, seriously?). Gator is a crackhead living on the street and constantly taking advantage of his family. While his story has nothing to do with `interracial dating' he actually makes the loudest statement in the film. In fact, his subplot is by far the most interesting, and his interactions with his mother and Flipper are the highlights of the film.
The performances here are also very well done. Samuel L. Jackson is the scene stealer (and really should have been Oscar nominated for this) as Gator. He has a difficult job of making his `humorous' character more than just a walking cliché, and he does just so (especially as his characters sub-plot reaches its climax). Ruby Dee is also magnificent as Lucinda, Gator and Flipper's mother. The scene at the dinner table with Flipper and Angie is brilliant, especially when she leaves to breakdown in the kitchen. John Turturro and Frank Vincent and Anthony Quinn and Veronica Webb all deliver memorable supporting performances and Lonette McKee is sympathetic as Flipper's jilted wife. Spike Lee should stay behind the camera for he's not nearly as charismatic in front of it, and while Ossie Davis's character is somewhat the pinnacle of the films morale he delivers his lines in such an excruciatingly dry manor that I found him a bore.
And then there is Halle Berry in one of the funniest cameo performances I've ever seen; period.
That leaves us with Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra, the films stars. Snipes is not the greatest of actors. He's an action buff who has a hard time joggling a weighty film (in my opinion obviously). Here he does better than I expected, but not as good as he should have. He seems almost disinterested with Angie, his eyes parading this guilt that makes his relationship with her feel forced and faux. Sciorra was drastically different, engaging her character marvelously. Despite the fact that Lee grew tired of the interracial relationship almost as soon as it began, Sciorra never grows tired of fleshing out her character. Every time she is on the screen she is working it, and doing so brilliantly.
The film is not a brilliant character study, but it works to a certain extent. I don't think that it carries Lee's message in the proper way, and at times can come off amateurish in its delivery (the dialog is a mess in parts). Some brilliant performances elevate the script, and the overall feel of the film is not one of total disappointment. I can see why so many like this movie, but truth be told, it could have been a masterpiece."