bad/awesome flixxx review: Harlem Nights (1989)

"I ain't playin' games no more. You put that fuckin' razor away or I'll blow your goddamn pinky toe off!  I'm not playing with you. I will blow that little black, gnarled crusty, dead motherfucker the fuck off your foot! Now put the razor away!" - Quick

"Oh, he proposed to her four times already, said he would leave his wife & kids and convert from Catholic to Baptist. Now you know that's some mean pussy to make a man change gods." - Bennie

"Hey man, that's bullshit. OK? You know when you die? When you're 89... got your children and your grandchildren around the bed... that's cool. It ain't cool to die at 27. I'm not gonna let you do that to yourself. I'm not gonna let you do it to me. 'Cause they kill you, they're gonna have to kill me. 'Cause I'm gonna kill them." - Sugar Ray

This is one of those flicks that you gotta watch with your old man.  Me and my Earth pop must have watched every movie that Richard Pryor was in.  And before he sucked we watched all of Eddie Murphy's too.  This one was a special one for sure, because it even had Red Foxx in it.  And we definitely watched a shitload of SANFORD AND SON when I was growing up.  Another wild thing to think about was not only the incredible cast of characters in this, but how many of them were dead only a few years later.  Richard Pryor and Red Foxx are gone, but also Robin Harris.  There were cameos by Charlie Murphy, a full two decades before he'd be "discovered" over on the Chappelle Show.  And the one by Arsenio Hall is hilarious.  All of them plus Della Reese, Jasmine Guy, Stan Shaw, and fuckin Danny Aiello.  This is HARLEM NIGHTS!!!!

This one starts out with Richard Pryor as Sugar Ray.  He's running a dice game in the back of a pool hall in like 1918 in Harlem.  He almost gets got by a disgruntled player, but a lil orphan dude named Quick shoots the patron in the head.  Sugar Ray takes Quick under his wing.  Fast forward 20 years, and Quick works for Sugar Ray at his hot spot gambling joint that runs a brothel out of the back.

This big shit gangster named Bugsy Calhoun sends one of his upper goons to scope out Sugar Ray's because he hears he's losing his ass to them out there in Harlem.  Racism was still rampant, and these guys couldn't stand a black guy having a leg up on them.  So Tommy (the goon) brings his hot ass chick in there with him, and Quick is smitten.  But Sugar warns Quick not to mess with her because she's actually Bugsy chick and it has to be bad news.  When that doesn't scare them, Bugsy sends a shitty crooked cop over to shake Sugar's place down threatening that if they don't cut Bugsy in, they'll shut their spot down.

So even though he doesn't want to, Sugar thinks he's had a good run, but so many people have worked for him over the years, he wants to shit this gangster and take care of his people.  There's a big heavyweight boxing match coming up and the champ is a regular at Sugar's.  So the big scam is to bet on the other guy to make the gangster's think they talked the champ into throwing the fight.  They also get one of Vera's finest whores to distract Bugsy's main bagman so they can ALSO rob his bookie that night too and double up on their bread.  A bunch of shit happens.  The crooked cop kills Tommy for Bugsy cause he came up short on bread.  Quick goes to see him and leaves finding him dead but is confused for the killer by Tommy's brother (Arsenio).  Quick kills all of them in one of the funniest scenes of the flick.  Then he's gonna bang the mistress, but she tries to kill him.  He kills her instead.  Then the gangsters burn down Sugar Ray's place.

So thanks to more crooked cops, the seemingly smooth robbing of the bagman gets bungled, but they still hopefully will have the fight money.  Sugar's dudes blow up Bugsy's club JUST as he figures out the fight hasn't been fixed and he bet on the wrong horse.  WHOOPS.  Then they trick the main crooked cop and lock his ass in an old bank vault.  Bugsy gets home and he's pissed.  The bagman brings the bread, but its "sugar" in the bags.  Then Vera shows up and tells them where to find Sugar and Quick.  We think she's switched sides, but when they all show up there to kill them, jokes on them, they all blow up.  Then we see Sugar paying off 2 white guys who pretended to be cops that night.  They ended up getting all the bread in the end anyway.  Should you watch this?  If you dig all these actors, then yes, its a pretty funny period piece, and some great late performances from some of the older generation of black comedians.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gerald Abernethy