Hoodlum

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. Duke is a superb director of actors, and, as in "Deep Cover", Fishburne manages to suggest a lot with a deft economy of means.
  2. 75
    While Chris Brancato's script doesn't reveal anything new or surprising (students of history and fans of "The Cotton Club" already know how this film ends), it's a competent piece of storytelling that incorporates elements of human interest with the threat of escalating violence.
  3. 75
    Duke and his screenwriter, Chris Brancato, don't make Hoodlum into a violent action film, though it has its bloody shoot-outs, but into more of a character study.
  4. It is familiarly old-fashioned, complete with montages of newspaper clippings fluttering past and calendar days slipping by. The sets, costumes, old cars and general atmosphere all beautifully recall moviemaking of a bygone era. And for that, hats off to Duke.
  5. The director, Bill Duke ("A Rage in Harlem"), stages all of this with proficient confidence, yet he never truly summons the operatic power of the genre -- the pulp tragedy of ambition built on (and drowned in) blood.
  6. 75
    The Sting-like ending with its crosses and double-crosses could have been better handled, but there are plenty of other payoffs in Hoodlum. [27Aug1995 Pg02.D]
  7. 70
    Too long by about 20 minutes, the film drags a bit, but the acting--fine throughout--carries the whole thing.
  8. Reviewed by: Leonard Klady
    70
    Director Bill Duke renders the period saga with passion, but lacks the sort of fluid, organic style the material requires; the film falls short of its aim for mythic proportion. Still, there's a vibrancy that's engrossing, if uneven.
  9. Duke rarely operates at more than a TV movie-of-the-week level of originality, but Hoodlum is still an easy movie to enjoy.
User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. 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 »