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The Great White Hype

movie review out of 4

*Also starring: Damon Wayans, Peter Berg, Jon Lovitz, Cheech Marin, Corbin Bernsen, Jamie Foxx, John Rhys-Davies, Salli Richardson, Rocky Carroll

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Dragan Antulov review follows video review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Dragan Antulov
½ star out of 4

Every now and then Hollywood studio executives realise that the audiences get tired of old formulas and want something different. This is the conclusion drawn by one of the protagonists of THE GREAT WHITE HYPE, 1996 satire directed by Reginald Hudlin. Reveredn Frank Sultan (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is flamboyant promoter for James "The Grim Reaper" Roper (played by Damon Wayans), unbeaten boxing champion. Roper was so effective in disposing of contenders that the audiences and television revenue began to vanish. Sultan concludes that the main reason is in public being bored with one black man knocking out another black man in twenty seconds. His solution to this problem is in a contender who happens to be white. Perfect candidate Terry Conklin (played by Peter Berg), lead singer for obscure Cleveland hard rock band. Ten years ago Conklin managed to beat Roper in amateur fight. Conklin has long forgotten boxing but Sultan appeals to his idealism and care about the world's homeless. In exchange for 10 million US$ Conklin agrees to become a contender and later watches as Sultan shamelessly panders to lowest racist sentiments in order to attract crowds.

The plot of THE GREAT WHITE HYPE touches some potentially stingy issues like the race relations in contemporary America and some plot elements and characters have a striking resemblance to some real life personalities and situations (Don King, Mike Tyson). The movie therefore had the potential of being a serious exploration of the subject or truly devastating satire. It had more potential in the form of Ron Shelton, screenwriter who had used his inside knowledge of US professional sports to make some remarkable films in the past. Unfortunately, he was paired by not-so-talented co-writer Tony Hendra and the script was given to Reginald Hudlin, director whose skills in making comedy could recently be seen in SERVING SARA. Not even such charismatic actors like Samuel L. Jackson can rescue a film which is populated by dislikeable characters the audience couldn't care less about. The promising premise is ruined by humour that panders to the racist stereotypes. Most of the jokes aren't particularly funny and the biggest one happens in the end. When the film abruptly ends the audience would feel just like those boxing fans who had expected spectacle and saw twenty seconds of one-sided "fight". Then they would realise that the biggest joke in THE GREAT WHITE HYPE was on them.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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