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Harlem Nights (1989)

Harlem Nights (1989)



Eddie Murphy

Richard Pryor


Directed by Eddie Murphy


In the 80s Eddie Murphy was walking on air and was making too much money. Having his name on a movie was a guaranteed money maker. Having him headline your show was also a guaranteed crowd puller. So, it is understandable that someone gave him the green light to make this movie, without caring if the movie would make any sense or even matter.

Talk about a boring, long, over-bearing movie whose comedy is missing. How anyone could give this movie a good rating is amazing. There is nothing funny going on in this movie, the movie just makes a claim that there will be a showdown in the end and when that time came, there was nothing worth showing.

If it was that easy to con a known gangster, there would be none left. They got away with his money by just carrying it with some corrupt cops on their side. Plus, they must have been clairvoyant to see what the antagonist was thinking before he even made a move.

But neither of them is clairvoyant, a man losing control of himself because of woman like that, I must testify I have seen that happen before. But the cop corruption, flipping some of the gangster loyals left to right was not something you would expect and seem to easy. The movie did not even make any attempt to make anything complicated at all which further added to the forgetfulness of the entire plot.

Quick (Murphy) was just too slick that it became annoying. Sugar (Richard Pryor) was somewhere in this movie, which is sad because he is more seasoned an actor than Murphy by 1989. In this movie Pryor plays a character in an un-iconic way that when the movie ends you can’t even remember seeing it.

The plot takes place in Harlem in the 1930s. Sugar has a club called Club Sugar Ray which he runs with his adopted son Quick. Quick was a young man who used to run errands for Sugar until he saved Sugar’s life and became his adopted son.

Together they built the club and were making a lot of money. During that time there was a gangster named "Bugsy" Calhoun, who owns almost all the clubs in Harlem. He was jealous of the take-ins of Sugar and wanted them out of business. He made them an offer to take more than 60% of what they made weekly for them to remain in business, knowing they would turn down the offer, close shop and leave Harlem.

Instead, Sugar decided to not just leave Harlem, but to take down Calhoun also.

The plan was flimsy and too easy. I guess that’s what you get when you have a movie written, directed, and starring Eddie Murphy himself.


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