Metascore
50

Mixed or average reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 17
  2. Negative: 3 out of 17
Watch On
  1. You can feel Hoodlum hungering to be bigger than it possibly can be. It wants to be "The Godfather" of African Americans, a vast tale of crime and heroism and nerve and ambition. But it tries too hard and ends up feeling spotty rather than deep. [27Aug1997 Pg D.01]
  2. And while Mr. Duke's direction has visual panache, the movie is unevenly paced.
  3. Laurence Fishburne and Tim Roth play the main characters with conviction, but Bill Duke's punchy filmmaking style banishes any hope of storytelling subtlety or psychological nuance.
  4. 40
    At the very least, Hoodlum might have been better off had it been filmed in monochromatic black-and-white instead of the garish color palette (and plenty of gore) that Duke opted for because they, unfortunately, only reinforce the hamminess of the picture.
  5. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    40
    Uneven and inaccurate as it may be, it's hard to wash out entirely with a movie that explores as neglected an aspect of classic gangster mythology as this one; at the same time, you can't help but wish it did so more successfully.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. Feb 25, 2013
    6
    People who have seen American Gangster or are regular viewers of the TV show, Mobsters, will know who Bumpy Johnson was and know the storyPeople who have seen American Gangster or are regular viewers of the TV show, Mobsters, will know who Bumpy Johnson was and know the story behind Hoodlum. For those of you who don't, Johnson was a member of an organized crime group, in Harlem, during the 1930's. He was also the man who mentored and inspired Denzel Washington's character of Frank Lucas in American Gangster. Long before that film, the story of Bumpy Johnson was told in Hoodlum. This was one of those little told stories about the mafia that started out very strong. Unfortunately, I felt that the writers went into far too much detail at certain points in the film and by the end it was definitely dragging on. Laurence Fishburne stars as Johnson and did an adequate job, my problem with his has always been he lacks emotion in his acting. In my humble opinion this should automatically disqualify him from certain things and this probably should have been one of those things. Tim Roth is Dutch Schultz and while Schultz had a reputation for being a character, Roth went a little over the top with it, but was still very entertaining. My favorite performance was of course the one by Andy Garcia as Lucky Luciano, but he really wasn't in the film much and that's a shame, because nobody plays a crime boss better than hen does. Hoodlum is a wild ride about an incredible true story, but as a film, it was a mix of terrific scenes and some slower unnecessary elements. As a film it's not the best, but it's worth watching just for the amazing story that is being told. Full Review »
  2. RobD.
    Sep 3, 2006
    8
    I too am a mafia buff who has long been waiting for a movie about Dutch Schultz (let's just forget about Billy Bathgate). Dutch is I too am a mafia buff who has long been waiting for a movie about Dutch Schultz (let's just forget about Billy Bathgate). Dutch is portrayed by Tim Roth, who expertly shows the character's merciless cruelty and disregard for pretty much everbody. However, this is a much better movie than Jesse B. tells you. It is a well-crafted character study showing the slow corruption of Laurence Fishbourne's character. The sets in the movie are probably the most acurate representation of Harlem ever in a movie. While it does take some liberties with historical accuracy, the point of a movie is to entertain, and this film delivers. Full Review »
  3. JesseB.
    Jul 20, 2006
    1
    The onlt reason it got a 1 was for the cast. I am a mafia history buff and felt that the Dutch Schultz story was long over due. All the The onlt reason it got a 1 was for the cast. I am a mafia history buff and felt that the Dutch Schultz story was long over due. All the appaling historic inaccuracies made me curse. Plus the movie was boring and vapid taboot. Hoodlum should have never been made, it should be outlawed and all original copies burned. For shame, Hollywood, forshame. Full Review »