Hell Up in Harlem (1973)

Fred Williamson, Julius Harris, Gloria Hendry, Margaret Avery,
A gangster in Harlem must rescue his ex-wife, who has been kidnapped by the Mafia.
  • 6.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Larry Cohen, Director:
  • Producer:

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7 / 10

Entertaining, action-packed movie from the 1970's.

Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson) is also known as Black Caesar, he finds himself shot by a corrupted police officer in the middle of the street in New York City. Since Gibbs is an well-known gangster, he has the ledger with the name of every bad cop and government officials on the mob's payroll. Gibbs is now public enemy number one in the city. He brings his father (Julius W. Harris) to the mob, Gibbs teaches his father every he knows. But someone in the gang is double-crossing Gibbs and he knows, there will be hell to pay. Revenge looks sweet for Black Caesar.

Written, Produced and Directed by Larry Cohen (It's Alive Trilogy, A Return to Salem's Lot, Q:The Winged Serpent) made an amusing, violent, if sometimes unintentionally funny sequel to "Black Caesar". Cohen is at his best, during some of the action sequences, the quick-paced editing and hand-held camera work. Williamson and Harris are fun to watch in this movie. Although the movie looks rushed, the story isn't as clear as its supposed to be and the film is quite sloppy at times.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an decent Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono Sound. The DVD's best feature is the humorous and informative commentary track by Cohen. At times, his commentary track seems to be more entertaining than the movie! DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer and an teaser trailer. "Hell Up in Harlem" is a lot of fun, despite some real flaws. Some of Edwin Starr's songs are quite good. If you are an fan of Soul Cinema in the 1970's. Don't miss it. (*** ?/*****).

6 / 10

You never know whose doing up your socks and underwear.

70s action and a blaxploitation classic with Fred Williamson (The Inglorious Bastards - 1978, MASH) as Black Caesar leading the way backed up by the luscious Gloria Hendry.

Lots of shoot-em-up action as the black gangsters take on the Mafia and the crooked cops that support them.

Things settle down, Black Caesar moves to LA, and comes back with a vengeance when his pops is killed. Cute scene where Mafia in park dies with hot dogs in their mouths.

The dialog and story wasn't the greatest, but if you are looking for righteous action, you've come to the right place.

8 / 10

Action packed!

No, this is not one of the greatest blaxploitation movie ever made; and yes, it has its flaws. But man, is this one a fun ride or what? It's an hour and a half of pure action with one of the greatest action hero of all time. It's ass kicking after ass kicking, as Tommy Gibbs takes revenge on everybody that have ever been dumb enough to mess with him. The fight scenes are great, inventive and plentiful. The cinematography is quite decent too and the story fun enough to keep you interested in it. Larry Cohen once more delivers the goods in this one. It's actually much better then most action stink fest that Hollywood produce this days. So sit tight and enjoy the roller coaster ride while it last.

Go Fred Williamson!

8 / 10

Black Exploitation Classics courtesy of Larry Cohen.

Hell Up In Harlem (1973) was a follow up to the classic Black Caesar. Do to the box office success of the former film, the producers wanted another sequel to cash in on the popularity of the first film. So Larry Cohen quickly completed a script that was going to follow the revenge of Tommy Gibbs. This time he's out to get rid of the clowns that he forgot to finish off in the first film. Papa Gibbs has taken control of his son's empire and Rev. Rufus is back as well.

Not bad for a movie that was hastily put together. A fitting end for Tommy Gibbs as he tries to turn his life around in the process of seeking vengeance. One of the better black "exploitiation" films to come out of the seventies. If you enjoyed Black Caesar, you'll love Hell Up In Harlem.

Highly recommended.

9 / 10

Great 70s Action Flick

This film might not be as popular as its predecessor "Black Caesar," but "Hell Up in Harlem" is far more explosive. This movie was my introduction to Fred "the Hammer" Williamson, and it's one of his best movies. Not much of a story, but the action level is awesome. Plus, this movie is far less preachy and depressing than "Black Caesar." Great supporting roles played by Durville Martin and Julius Harris, and a cool theme song by Edwin "War" Starr. Action highlights include the opening chase scene (which pretty much disregards the first film's bleak conclusion), the island shootout and of course the hard to believe NYC to L.A. chase! If you're new to the Hammer, start with this movie. It's definitely his best.