Three white patrons in a predominately white section of New Jersey are murdered in a bar during the tumultuous growing pains of the 60's. Rueben "Hurricane" Carter was in the prime of his boxing career. He was in simple words a bad, bad man in the ring. He had fought his way back from an uncertain childhood and an abusive period in the State of New Jersey's penal institutions for young men. Beset upon by a racist police officer intent on hanging him out to dry, Rueben had overcome these obstacles and many more to become an internationally known boxer. And in a moment, all his success and all of his achievements would be stolen by a system bent on prejudice and fueled by hatred.
The "witnesses" to the murders said two black men in a white car committed the crime. It just so happened that Rueben and his driver for the evening John Artis, were returning home after an evening of relaxation and celebration at a local nightclub in a white sedan. Detained by the police, Rueben and John were taken to the hospital where one of the victims was being treated. When asked if Rueben and John were the men who did the shooting, the victim clearly said "no", however, racist officers intent on blaming anyone black for the murder pressed the man until they got the answers they wanted.
Incredibly, the two, Reuben and Artis, are charged with murder, tried by an all-White bigoted jury & sentenced to life. Imprisoned for a crime they clearly could not have committed. With steadfast courage & unwavering determination, Rueben Carter turned his anger and hatred inward & devoted all of his time to bettering both mind & body. Never failing to believe that at some point his freedom, his vindication would come. In all of that time Rueben turned his attentions and time to chronicling his life in the hopes that through these written words, someone would recognize the injustice and right the wrong. This "manuscript" as he called it, would eventually become a published autobiography entitled: The Sixteenth Round & it is upon this book & one other that this film is based. Lesra Martin found Reuben's book at a used book sale held by a library in Toronto, Canada. Now, Lesra had his own demons to face as a young black man growing up in the segregated sixties and Reuben's book seemed to Lesra a recounting his own life through Reuben's words. With the help of several Canadian Activists, he set out to give Rueben the hope; he so desperately needed to carry on his fight for justice in the house of the unjust. With seemingly insurmountable odds, they embark on a journey that will take them through the gritty seedy underside of race hatred to the beauty & warmth of redemption, freedom & justice. The Hurricane is easily one of the best & most moving films I have ever seen. It will remove the scales from your eyes to show you a world full of rage and horror yet; it provides a glimpse of the truest greatest human component…compassion.
The audio is presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital platform that does more than support the film; it involves you & brings you wholly into the middle of the action. The films' score/music as provided by Christopher Young is unbeleiveably well produced and is a character unto its self. As this is a dialogue driven feature, the sub is relatively dormant throughout the film. It's primarily funtioin is that of punctuation. There is an overall theme to the music that creates and leads you into an aura if you will of danger and redemption. These are textures that occur as a matter of inference. As the story intensifies the score rises to meet all aural expectations and in great bursts it provides fairly intense bass extension. Again, the sub is primarily used to punctuate the intensity of a scene. It's not used throughout the whole of the film. The dialogue is the real star of the movie and as such the center & surrounds do the bulk of the work. The only nit-pick I have with the audio is that; you cannot switch between audio channels on the fly. You have to go back to the source menu to select the commentary track. Would have been nicer to have the option to switch back & forth seamlessly.
The director's commentary:
Norman Jewison provides one of the best screen specific commentaries for a film that I have ever heard. The usual insights into the creation of the characters & set design & artistic impetus are included however, he also spends a great deal of time establishing the circumstances during this time period which led to the events that culminated with Reuben's incarceration. Additionally, he provides a wealth of information regarding the lengths to which Denzel went to prepare for the role of "The Hurricane"! One of the better moments of the commentary is the fact that Jewison becomes so engrossed in the film that he has to first point out a crucial moment & then he "watches" it with the viewer & is just as moved as the audience he's reaching.
The video is presented in a simply beautiful artifact-free widescreen anamorphic transfer that is absolutely beautiful. The film has a great many indoor shots that are extremely dark (Primarily the scenes in the "hole"). The blacks were solid & showed not one sign of pixelation or Chroma noise. Additionally, the flesh tones were true & none of the colors bled or looked less than was intended. Definitely reference material.
Universal outdid themselves with this disc. "The Hurricane" CE is packed with all kinds of goodies!
Spotlight on Location: The Making of the Hurricane.
These Universal spotlights on location never seem to be on locations! In any event, as usual, the spotlight presented is an interview segment. Herein, Norman Jewison, Denzel Washington, Armyan Bernstein, Deborah Kara-Unger & most importantly, Lesra Martin & Rueben "Hurricane" Carter himself are interviewed regarding just about every aspect of the filming and the finished product. Easily one of the better "Spotlights" in that you hear from the man himself, his thoughts & feelings on the book & the film & how he is in awe of all that has transpired. It's impossible to watch the film, listen to the interview and come away anything but awed and inspired!
Deleted Scenes with an intro to each by Director, Norman Jewison
There are five scenes that were edited from the final film primarily due to the length of the movie. With the added scenes the film would have been well over three hours long. With their removal, the film clocks in at 2 hours & 26 minutes. Jewison reflects that he'd rather have them included in the final draft of the film however, after seeing them; all but one was really unnecessary (*spoken solely as a consumer & not a slight on their artistic merit). They added more information regarding those who would help Rueben but, as they were not the true focus of the film, that information could be easily left out with no harm being done to the script or overall feel of the film.
This is the full-length trailer that aired before & during the film's initial theatrical run. It's in a full frame presentation & quite nicely done. Sadly, like most trailers it's presented in 2.0 which does no justice to the film's trailer whatsoever.
Lastly, the disc features the usual static film recommendations, cast & crew bios & DVD/ROM information that all discs have come to share. Nothing special about these items.
Really what more can be said about this film?! It's an incredible re-telling of the events of A man's life that almost defy belief. While it does showcase incredible levels of bigotry that can be reached when the government plays a part, it more importantly demonstrates just how much power, perseverance, compassion, love, trust and justice play in the defeat of injustice. There are great many positions taken on "The hurricane". There are those who still believe him guilty in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. No matter where you sit though, this is an awesome story that has to be seen to be believed! I have to give special mention to Denzel Washington. His performance was astounding. Having seen both American Beauty and The Hurricane, Kevin Spacey great actor, love his work but, he had nothing on Denzel. In simpler terms…Denzel was robbed of what would have been his second Oscar. Definitely a riveting performance! Given the extras and the overall incredible video/audio presentation I have to categorize this as a collector's edition!