Penitentiary Film Details
Overview: A hitchhiker named Martel Gordone gets in a fight with two bikers over a prostitute, and one of the bikers is killed. Gordone is arrested and sent to prison, where he joins the prison’s …
Tagline: There’s only one way out, and 100 fools stand in the way!
Review: You will never see a more realistic portrayal of life in prison, than in this absolutely brilliant film from 1979. Raw, gritty, seedy, violent and desperate; this is the world that Martel Gordone (Leon Isaac Kennedy) is thrown into when he is caught in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” In an environment of violent, and sometimes insane men, and no women, the new inmates must prove themselves quickly, or become someone’s “boy.” Prison politics are explored realistically in this unbelievably entertaining prison tour-de-force, as we get to know some unforgettable characters; ‘Half Dead,’ the insane alpha monkey, missing half his teeth and half his mind, with a desire to dominate everyone around him. He is the cellmate of Martel “Too Sweet,” who must fend off this human tornado in a jaw dropping, claustrophobic fight to the death in a small prison cell. In order for Too Sweet to survive, he joins the prison boxing club, and meets up with ‘Seldom Seen,’ a white haired old-timer who, after spending 50 plus years inside, has completely given up on the outside world. ‘Seldom’ becomes his trainer. Too Sweet also befriends Eugene ‘Genie’ Lawson, a younger “newbie” whose integrity is also threatened, and who must also prove his strength and worth. This boxing club and this prison is filled with some of the most unforgettable people you will ever see. The character development in “Penitentiary” is so strong, that you will feel like you know these guys personally, to the point where you care about their fates. Director Jamaa Fanaka achieves a perfect balance of jaw dropping action/fight sequences, hilarious comedy, drama that is sincere and realistic, and then adds an element of surreal atmosphere that is hard to describe. There is another great prison film that is considered a genre classic; Jonathon Demme’s WIP outing “Caged Heat.” Well, “Penitentiary” is the “bastard half-brother” of that movie. It is also one of the finest independent films ever made; this is true, renegade film-making. I cannot recommend it enough, to fans of prison films, cult films, art-house or movies in general.
Duration: 99 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Sport
Also known as: Penitentiary,Hölle hinter Gittern,Frihetens nävar,Исправительная колония,Jamaa Fanaka’s Penitentiary,Isku vapauteen,Jetnisnica,Penitenciaría