Harlem Nights was a dream come true for Eddie Murphy. Famous for his stand comedy impersonations of Richard Pryor, Murphy grew up idolizing the comedian. In 1989, he finally had the opportunity to work with the legend. The results were pretty good, if I say so myself.
I used to own this movie on DVD and have always enjoyed watching it. This story isn’t one of those non-stop laugh out loud comedies; however, it is a joyride through the streets of Harlem.
The cast includes an A-List of black actors, including Redd Foxx, Della Reese, Stan Shaw, and Arsenio Hall. The humour is spot-on as the candyman (Pryor) and his adopted son Quick (Murphy) rule the Harlem underground. Their only problem is there is another guy who wants to lay claim on the neighbourhood and is willing to do everything within his power to make it happen.
The film’s best parts revolved around the games the gangs will play on one another to gain the upper hand. Whether it is blowing up buildings, committing murder, or rigging heavyweight boxing matches, there is no limit once they begin to use their network of connections to their own advantage.
I cannot pinpoint the main reason I enjoy this film; it is just entertaining. There are so many colourful characters, and they all play a vital role in moving the story forward.
Set in the 1930s, the writers and costume designers did a great job bringing the run and gun gangster days to life. Great detail was put into the guns, outfits, and cars of the period. Even the dialogue is a different time.
There are many different themes at work in this one, and they all come together quite nicely. I can understand that some people may have seen this one, and there will be some who never heard of it. I can’t say this movie has many flaws; however, I welcome anyone who wants to want to point something out. 7/10