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Penitentiary (1979)

Action, Drama, Crime 1h 39m 1979

The story of boxer “Too Sweet” (Leon Isaac Kennedy), whose only way out of lockdown is by winning the big fight. Highly plausible scenario? Of course not. Entertaining? Oh, hell yeah.

Director Jamaa Fanaka specializes in the smuggler’s approach to socially relevant filmmaking. He’ll sneak some serious shit past you like a jailhouse shiv while you’re looking the other way. And this film, enjoyable though it may be, scores some heavy points even as it entertains. He presents a nightmarish microcosm of American society where prison is an omnipresent threat in the lives of African American males, and where sports and entertainment are viewed as the only means of escape. A gritty, highly entertaining movie, with tons of great dialogue you’ll be quoting for weeks. (Lars Nilsen)


Jamaa Fanaka


Jamaa Fanaka




United States



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