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Hell Up In Harlem

By Sean Axmaker

Fred Williamson returns as Tommy Gibbs, the self-styled Godfather of Harlem in Larry Cohen's quickly made sequel to the low-budget Black Caesar. The film opens with a different perspective on the finale from the earlier film, this time with Gibbs surviving an assassination attempt with the help of his estranged father (Julius Harris), who becomes Tommy's new chief lieutenant in his rebuilt organization. Tommy takes his revenge on those who set him up but faces a new threat from within as the corrupt DA partners with an ambitious gang member to take Tommy down. It's not going to be as easy as they think. Shooting on NYC streets and locations, Cohen punches up the slim rise-and-fall/revenge story line with gritty action, a driving pace, and edgy, always-on-the-move, hand-held camera work. The production feels rushed at times and the performances don't have the energy of the previous film, but Cohen doesn't give you much time to think about it with his speeding plot and machine-gun editing, moved along nicely with help from Edwin Starr's funky score.

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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Larry Cohen

Stars: Fred Williamson, Julius W. Harris, Gloria Hendry, Margaret Avery, D'Urville Martin

Released: July 10, 1973

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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