[Screen It]


(1999) (Denzel Washington, Vicellous Reon Shannon) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Minor Moderate Extreme Moderate Heavy
Minor None Moderate Minor Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: Wrongly sentenced to consecutive life terms for a crime he didn't commit, a one-time contender for the middleweight boxing title must deal with his time in prison as well as the efforts of an inspired teenager and his Canadian friends who are trying to gain his freedom.
A one-time contender for the middleweight boxing title of the 1960s, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (DENZEL WASHINGTON) is a man who turned his life around after spending more than half of his troubled childhood and early adult years being incarcerated in some fashion.

Although his future seemed bright, one night in 1966 changed all of that. Framed by Vincent Della Pesca (DAN HEDAYA) -- a bad cop who's had it out for him for years - for several murders he didn't commit, Carter and another innocent man, John Artis (GARLAND WHITT), are sentenced to several consecutive life terms. Despite various attempts to appeal his conviction, Rubin eventually realizes he may never get out, and even tells his wife, Mae Thelma (DEBBI MORGAN), to divorce him for the good of both.

Things change, however, years later when a young man, Lesra Martin (VICELLOUS REON SHANNON), picks up Carter's several year old novel, "The Sixteenth Round," and becomes fascinated by the man and his plight. Cared for and tutored by a trio of Canadians, Lisa (DEBORAH KARA UNGER), Sam (LIEV SCHREIBER), and Terry (JOHN HANNAH) who rescued him from a dead end home life and are preparing him for college, Lesra begins corresponding with the now reclusive Rubin.

Soon Lesra and his Canadian mentors become good friends with Rubin, but when another appeal is lost, the former boxer decides that all hope is lost. Yet, Lesra and the others persevere, and despite the long odds and Della Pesca's intimidating ways, they continue in their battle to bring about Carter's freedom.

If they're fans of Washington or of boxing related movies, they might. Otherwise, this film doesn't seem like much of a draw to most kids.
For language and some violence.
  • DENZEL WASHINGTON plays a boxer who was wrongly accused of murdering several people and thus was sentenced to several life terms in prison. Along the way he uses several methods of self-survival to keep his sanity (while going through the varying responses to such a situation - anger, despair, isolationism, etc...) and in various situations he also uses strong profanity.
  • VICELLOUS REON SHANNON plays a teenager who becomes intrigued enough by Carter and his predicament through his book that he personally becomes involved in befriending and trying to free the man.
  • LIEV SCHREIBER, JOHN HANNAH and DEBORAH KARA UNGER play the Canadian partners who are raising and tutoring Lesra and who attempt to free Rubin from prison. Although we know little about them beyond their commitment to this cause, Unger does smoke several times and briefly uses some profanity.
  • DAN HEDAYA plays a racist cop who's had it out for Rubin for many years and helps frame him for the murders he didn't commit. He also uses strong profanity and intimidates others.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a brief look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is extreme with more than 25 "f" words being used, along with plenty of other profanities and colorful phrases. Several people are murdered in the film, and while these occur in several brief flashbacks, we finally do see the actual acts as well as the bloody results. Other non-lethal violence is also present and some of those scenes may be unsettling or somewhat suspenseful to some viewers.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes during the film - in particular a bad cop who helps frame the protagonist. Brief nonsexual nudity occurs (male rear nudity) as prisoners are essentially strip-searched before meeting their guests. Some smoking and very brief drinking are also present.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who might want to see this picture, we suggest that you more closely examine our detailed content listings.

  • People have drinks in a bar and do the same in another scene later in the film.
  • People have drinks in a dance hall.
  • A man in a hospital has blood all over his face and on the sheet behind him.
  • A man has blood running down his head after being hit by a bottle in a flashback.
  • In a black and white boxing flashback, a boxer has some blood in/on his mouth.
  • Another of Rubin's boxing opponents is somewhat bloody.
  • We see a flashback to the murder victims and see that they're bloody, as is the floor around them.
  • We see another flashback of the murders and this time witness the actual acts. As such, we see the victims hit with bullets and blood briefly squirting out or having stained their clothes.
  • Della Pesca and others who framed Rubin and Artis (for being the "right" black men at the "right" location) obviously have extreme cases of both (and Della Pesca has it out for Rubin over the years) and one calls young Rubin a "nigger."
  • In a flashback and as young kids, Rubin and others steal clothes from a merchant, and Rubin's portrayed as a juvenile delinquent who then escaped from boys school at nineteen (he was sentenced to stay until 21).
  • In a flashback, an older white man gets too friendly with Rubin and his young friends (the man's actions easily suggest he's a pedophile of sorts).
  • Rubin, fresh out of the Army, causes some trouble in a bar as he maneuvers his way to dance with Mae.
  • Someone throws something through Rubin's window at night, breaking it and serving as a means of trying to intimidate him.
  • A reporter writes something that Rubin told him "off the record" and white judges at a boxing match announce that Rubin's opponent has won despite obviously being beaten by Rubin.
  • Della Pesca coerces some witnesses to state that they saw Rubin and Artis at the murder scene (and the witnesses then lie about just that). We see a flashback to one of those witnesses who then steals money from the register after finding the murder victims.
  • At various times in the film - and as is normally expected - Rubin develops a negative attitude about his chances of being freed from prison.
  • Della Pesca indirectly threatens the Canadians for trying to help Rubin. Later, and as they're driving, their tire blows out and causes them to crash (and is blamed on Della Pesca).
  • The scenes involving flashbacks to the murders as well as other scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be tense or unsettling for some viewers.
  • A tire blows out and the car driven by the Canadians goes out of control and eventually crashes into a wall.
  • Handguns: Used by some criminals to murder others.
  • Switchblade: Used by a kid to stab an adult in the arm after that adult threatens his young friend.
  • Phrases: "Shut the f*ck up," "Sh*t happens," "You don't know sh*t," "Shut up," "Short punk bitch," "Piss me off," "Bastard" and "Nigger" (said by a white person toward a black youth).
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful and/or ominous music plays during the film.
  • A song contains the phrase "My God."
  • At least 26 "f" words (3 used with "mother"), 23 "s" words, 6 S.O.B.s, 5 asses, 4 damns, 2 hells, and 6 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "My God" and 1 use each of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • Rubin tells a man that he's got his black whatever down between his legs (metaphorically, of course, as we don't see anything).
  • In a flashback, an older white man gets too friendly with Rubin and his young friends (the man's actions easily suggest he's a pedophile of sorts).
  • We see some male prisoners' bare butts as they're checked before meeting visitors.
  • Lisa smokes around five times, while various miscellaneous or background characters smoke in different scenes.
  • Rubin tells Mae (while he's in prison), that he wants her to divorce him for her own good as well as his own.
  • The historical accuracy of this portrayal of the real story.
  • The efforts that Lesra and the others took to prove Rubin's innocence.
  • Rubin's methods of dealing/coping with everything he went through.
  • Some typical boxing violence is present during the matches.
  • We hear the gunshots involved with several people being murdered.
  • In a flashback and after an older man has made pedophile-like motions toward Rubin's young friends, one of them throws a bottle that strikes the man in the head, drawing some blood. The man then grabs one of the kids and holds him over the edge of a waterfall. Young Rubin then pulls out a switchblade and repeatedly stabs it into the man's arm.
  • We see archival footage of white cops beating black men with nightsticks, another holding his gun on a man and others being dragged away.
  • Someone throws something through Rubin's window at night, breaking it and serving as a means of trying to intimidate him.
  • We see another flashback of the murders and this time witness the actual acts. As such, we see the victims hit with bullets and blood briefly squirting out or having stained their clothes.

  • Reviewed December 8, 1999 / Posted January 7, 2000

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