Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

A second wave blaxploitation flick, Penitentiary is still bedevilled by the uncomfortable contradictions of its mucho macho forebears. It's basically the serviceable yarn of the young stranger on a bum rap, sentenced to an institutional hell-hole, and eventually bucking the terror regime with two righteous fists. And daubed onto the screen with the vitality of all-round excess, teetering crazily between heavy gore and outright farce, it works effectively as back row cheer-a-minute stuff. But its assumptions stink. Stomp the gays, screw the women, and everyone else make way for the superspade swagger. Black cinema's standing still while it merely swaps one stereotype for another, and any brothers'n'sisters routine will just have to wait till a man's done what a man's gotta do. Consciousness here is as low as the budget. A sequel, Penitentiary II, followed in 1982.

By: PT


Release details

99 mins

Cast and crew

Jamaa Fanaka
Jamaa Fanaka
Leon Isaac Kennedy
Thommy Pollard
Hazel Spears
Donovan Womack
Floyd Chatman
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