Retro Movie of the Month – ABOVE THE RIM (1994)
ABOVE THE RIM (1994) The last film in Barry Michael Cooper’s Harlem trilogy Above the Rim (94) was directed and co-written by Jeff Pollack with a screenplay by Cooper adapted from a story by Benny Medina. Above the Rim stars Duane Martin, Tupac Shakur (Juice,
ABOVE THE RIM (1994)
The last film in Barry Michael Cooper’s Harlem trilogy Above the Rim (94) was directed and co-written by Jeff Pollack with a screenplay by Cooper adapted from a story by Benny Medina. Above the Rim stars Duane Martin, Tupac Shakur (Juice, Bullet, Gridlock’d), Leon Robinson (Five Heartbeats, Colors, Cool Runnings), Marlon Wayans (Requiem for a Dream) and Wood Harris (Paid in Full, Dread, HBO’s The Wire). Distributed by New Line Cinema and premiering on March 23, 1994.
This Retro Pick of the Month is a coming-of-age story about a talented and promising young man named Kyle Watson (D. Martin) living in Harlem with potential to get a basketball scholarship and likely a future in the NBA. He must choose between working hard to better himself or falling victim to the allure and pitfalls of street life. Between the encouragement and tutorship of a security guard named Shep (Leon Robinson) or the manipulations of a local hustler named Birdie (Tupac). It’s a tug of war over the soul of a young man learning to become his own man.
Above the Rim was filmed on location in Harlem with some locations as Manhattan Center for Science & Mathematics in East Harlem, Howard Bennett Playground on 139th street and the legendary Rucker Park. With a soundtrack featuring hits by SWV, the Dogg Pound, Nate Dog & Warren G, the Lady of Rage, AL.B. Sure! and Tupac Shakur.
A basketball movie that was made during the second wave of Black Exploitation cinema, also known as the Hood movie craze of the nineties, after the success of John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood (1991) and the Hughes Bros’ Menace 2 Society (1993). It was during this time that we were blessed with Cult Classics like New Jersey Drive, Juice, Fresh, New Jack City, Belly, Clockers, South Central, Deep Cover, Sugar Hill, Hangin with the Homeboys, and you get the point. It was a great time for variety with stories about US, the sons & daughters of the ghetto, with no pandering and no ulterior motives or tokenizing. Hollywood was eager to green light new auteurs and stories while profiting from black dollars at the cinema. That is until the 2000’s came and well let’s try to forget that nosedive; I’m looking at you No Limit films and SOUL PLANE.
It’s a time capsule of Nineties nostalgia and HipHop culture. It was the last film released during Tupac Shakur’s lifetime. It is a story about US about US.
Other remarkable recommendations: SUGAR HILL (1993), JUICE (1992), Cooley High (1975), He Got Game (1998), Fresh (1994), Straight Out of Brooklyn (1991).
This movie reminds me of nothing less than my classmates from OUR LADY of LOURDES School on W. 143rd street (Sugar Hill, Harlem) class of 1996. I Love Yous all.
Stay fresh, Stay Fly and always keep that finger on the REWIND button.