The Hurricane

The true triumph in The Hurricane is not the boxing champ wrongly accused of a triple murder but rather the inner city boy who grows into manhood with a purpose beyond himself

There are movies that try to pay tribute to the human spirit. How a person can overcome extraordinary obstacles to triumph. The Hurricane is such a movie but not for the obvious reason. The true triumph here is not the boxing champ wrongly accused of a triple murder but rather the inner city boy who grows into manhood with a purpose beyond himself. If you have listened to the Bob Dylan song about Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter (Denzel Washington), then you know most of the story.

Carter was a urban African-American child that grow up amid a lot of trouble. When he was 11 he stabbed a white man while defending his friends against a pedophile. (Of course, some of The Hurricane is fictionalized and subjective). He is sent to juvenile corrections by a rough white cop Vincent Della Pesca (Dan Hedya). This initial confrontation would haunt Carter for most of his life. At 19 Carter escapes the detention center and joins the Army. Once again Della Pesca fins him and sends him back to prison. Carter serves out his term and is determined never to return to prison. He works hard and becomes a contender to the middleweight boxing title. That is deney to him again by prejudice. After a celebration of a bout Carter leaves the nightclub with a young black man and is pulled over by the police. He is framed by his old nemesis for the murder of three people and is sentenced to three life sentences. While in prison he writes a book, The 16th Round. At first the book is popular and Carter becomes a celebrity cause of the moment. Soon, that fades and his book is delegated to the discount bin in most bookstores. There, young Lesra Martin (Vicellous Reon Shannon) finds the book and it becomes the very first book he reads. Lesra was taken away from his Brooklyn neighborhood by three Canadians in order to help him achieve his potential. After a while Lesra and his mentors befriend the framed boxer and embark upon a campaign to free him.

The acting in The Hurricane is extraordinary. Washington gives a powerful performance not unlike his hallmark Malcom-X. If The Hurricane was presented in any other year the Oscar for best actor may have gone to Washington. As it was he was just up against too many bravura performances. The really star to watch in The Hurricane is young Shannon. He gives a performance far beyond his years. He is certainly an actor to watch in the future. Among the Canadians are veteran actors Deborah Unger and Live Schreiber. The help to carry the movie during some of the less exciting portions that do not feature Washington. The only down side in the acting is Carter’s character is left largely unexplored. We learn a lot about the boy but little really about Carter.

The director of this opus is renowned Hollywood legend Norman Jewison. He is know for his off centered take on things, his very special way of telling a forceful story and keeping the humanity. He has been nominated five times to an Oscar but to date has only taken home the coveted Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1999. His use of the camera as an objective observer helps to make The Hurricane interesting. He sets the stage for each scene as if it was a play being performed before your eyes.

The Hurricane disc is extremely well done. The feature commentary by Jewison is not accessible on the fly, you have to set it from the bonus features menu. I found this a bit tedious since I personally like to be able to switch back and forth and listen to the commentary for specific scenes. There is a group of deleted scenes that are explained as to why they were removed. A making of featurette and DVD-ROM features. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is excellent, especially in the many dark scenes. There are no visible artifacts of compression. The audio is Crisp, clear Dolby 5.1. The rear speakers are best in the boxing scenes, giving the feeling of being there. The Hurricaneis a worth while movie that will encourage the whole family.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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