Reviewed by
Aaron Beierle

Title: The Hurricane: Collector's Edition (1999)
Studio Line: Universal Pictures - His greatest fight was for justice.

Academy Award winner Denzel Washington plays Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a man who, in the prime of his boxing career finds himself wrongfully convicted of murder. Sentenced to life in prison, Carter's published memoir, The Sixteenth Round, inspired a teenager (Vicellous Reon Shannon) from Brooklyn and three Canadian activists (Deborah Kara Unger, John Hannah, L. Schreiber) who believed in the truth, to join forces with Carter to prove his innocence. Their extraordinary efforts ultimately secure this release, leaving Hurricane to sum up his 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit by simply stating, "Hate got me into this place, love got me out." Don't miss the movie Rolling Stone called, "A stirring fight for freedom! Denzel Washington at his powerful, poignant best!"

Director: Norman Jewison
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Hannah, Deborah Unger,Liev Schreiber, Dan Hedaya, Vicellous Reon Shannon, David Paymer
Academy Awards: Nominated for Best Actor-Denzel Washington.
Box Office: Budget: $39 million. Opening Weekend: $337 thousand. Gross: $50.668 million.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English DD 5.1, French Dolby Surround; subtitles none; closed-captioned; single side - dual layer; 20 chapters; rated R; 146 min.; $26.98; 7/11/00.
Supplements: Spotlight on Location: The Making Of The Hurricane; Feature Commentary with Director Norman Jewison; Deleted Scenes with Special Introduction by the Director; Theatrical Trailer; Production Notes; Cast and Filmmakers; DVD-ROM Features.
Purchase: DVD | The 16th Round - Ruben Carter | Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter - James S. Hirsch | Score soundtrack - Christopher Young | Music soundtrack - Various Artists

Picture/Sound/Extras: A/B/B

A picture of remarkable power and intensity, The Hurricane is one of those rare pictures that works on almost every level; impressive direction, acting, cinematography and storytelling. I've read that this film has changed some facts around, and although I can't be sure of that, I was still very impressed by the story that's here. Telling the true story of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Denzel Washington plays the boxer to perfection. Although some of the story does not go in sequence, the film still revolves around one event; Carter is wrongly imprisoned for a murder that he did not commit.

The film shows Carter growing up and finding himself in trouble with the police consistently throughout his life, specifically one officer who is always against him (Dan Hedaya). A different story runs alongside, following a young boy named Lesra who is deeply moved by the fight that Carter has to go through in jail. Both the young man and his family meet the fighter and attempt to prove his innocence, uplifting Carter.

Parts of the film work with flashbacks and jumping around to different stories. With the amount of cutting that is going on in this story, done badly it could have been very awkward. Here, it remains perfectly understandable and adds to the tale. As for performances, they are all very good, although Washington is incredible as Carter, who absolutely becomes this role. Angry, fierce and remarkably intense, Washington is riveting to watch. As the group of Canadians who come to his aid, Deborah Kara Unger (The Game), Liev Schriver and John Hannah (The Mummy) are good. As the young man who believes in Carter, Vicellous Reon Shannon has an excellent first performance.

It's not quite perfect. At 155 minutes, the film does run a little bit on the long side and could have used some slight editing. I was never really bored though, and carried by Washington's great performance, The Hurricane is an emotional and moving story that I enjoyed watching. Technical credits are quite good, with cinematography by Roger Deakins (Fargo) and score by Christopher Young (Entrapment, Rounders).

The DVD:

The Hurricane contains cinematography by Roger Deakins, who is, in my opinion, one of the great cinematographers working today - working on films like Fargo. His work is similarly stunning for this movie and Universal's transfer makes it all look marvelous. Images are completely razor sharp and impressively smooth throughout. Clarity is very good, and images are always well-defined. Detail is excellent, and even darker scenes are well-rendered. This isn't an extremely colorful film with all of the sequences that take place in prison, but colors look accurate and natural, with no problems. Flesh tones are accurate and black level is strong as well.

I tried to find some flaws, but really didn't find anything distracting. There is some extremely minor shimmering once or twice, but that's a very infrequent problem and barely noticable. There's no pixelation and the print used displays one or two slight marks, but otherwise remains clear. A couple of scenes are slightly grainy as well, but that seems by intent. This is very solid work from Universal and in my opinion, one of their best efforts in recent memory.

The Hurricane is not an agressive picture in terms of sound; it goes into the catagory of a film that uses audio perfectly for what it is; many of the film's sequences are dialogue-driven, but the audio does become more open when the time is right. Surrounds are used well during scenes when they become involved, but otherwise, they remain quiet for much of the movie. Most of the audio comes from the front of the room, and although there isn't too much bass, the audio still fits the film like a boxer's glove. Although Christopher Young's score sounds similar once or twice to his work on Rounders, it still comes through sounding clean and natural here, although it mainly comes from the front. There's not much bass to it, but I wasn't expecting much from a dialogue-driven film like this one. Dialogue sounds good as well, natural and easily understood

The Hurricane offers a number of informative and interesting supplements. Although not quite as high in quantity as some Universal titles, the supplements make up for that in quality.

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Norman Jewison. Although he does not talk throughout the commentary consistently, he does offer a very informative guided tour when he does talk. He goes back and forth between talking about the details of the production and also, the history of Carter and how his story was finally brought to the screen.

There are times when Jewison simply talks about the on-screen events, but instead of just simply stating what's going on on-screen, he does peel away the layers behind what is going on in the film at that point. The director takes the audience through his thought process quite well that was going on during the making of the movie, and it's especially interesting to listen to how he wanted the film to be structured. He also talks about where scenes were shot and also, he chats about his feelings working with cinematographer Roger Deakins to create a mood and tone for the film.

Again, there are some little pauses here and there, but what director Jewison has to offer the viewer is a wealth of information about the making of The Hurricane and the story of Carter. Recommended.

Deleted Scenes: With an introduction by the director, this section provides a look at 5 scenes that were taken out of the picture. His opening introduction that speaks about deleted scenes in general and keeping the audience's interest is fascinating to listen to. He introduces each scene, as well. Most of these scenes are very good, but the reason that they were taken out seems to be for reasons of length. The 5 scenes are definitely not small, and go on for a fairly moderate length. Jewison's comments really provide an informative analysis of just why these scenes are removed as well as the process of editing the final product.

Spotlight On Location:A 20 minute "behind-the-scenes" look at the making of the movie, this documentary also takes a detailed look at the life of the real Hurricane Carter, and also offers interviews with him. There are the usual clips from the movie in-between the interviews and behind-the-scenes clips, but the information in his documentary as really fascinating to listen to, and I especially enjoyed hearing from Carter himself on his views about the movie itself. Definitely one of the better "Spotlight On Location" documentaries that Universal has offered on their DVDs.

Theatrical Trailer: The film's theatrical trailer, presented letterboxed at 1.85:1 and in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Also: Production notes, cast&crew bios, DVD-Rom information, recommendations.

The Hurricane is a moving and powerful film with a fantastic lead performance from Denzel Washington. Universal's DVD edition contains informative additional features as well as fine audio and video quality. Recommended.

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