1966. The Disunited States of America. Huey Newton (Chong) and Bobby Seale (Vance) form the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Initially little more than a community self-help programme, the organisation soon becomes a popular movement with a radical political agenda, and enough militancy to terrify J Edgar Hoover, who labels the Panthers 'Public Enemy Number One'. When Judge (Hardison) is approached by the FBI, the Panther leadership convinces him to act as a double agent, and the stakes become a matter of life and death, for Judge himself and for subsequent generations of black Americans. Working from a screenplay by his father Melvin (taken from his own novel), Mario Van Peebles recreates the turbulence of the period, and makes a convincing case on behalf of the Panthers. Less happily, fictional paranoia-thriller elements are clumsily integrated: Judge's story doesn't ring true, and it distracts from more absorbing, documented facts. Time will tell whether the Van Peebles' theory that the FBI collaborated with the Mob to flood the ghettos with drugs holds up as history, but here it's a hysterical, dramatically suspect conclusion to an often stimulating, stylish movie.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Mario Van Peebles|
|Screenwriter:||Melvin Van Peebles|
Courtney B Vance