The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One Eight Seven (1997)

"One Eight Seven" (1997) is a crime drama starring Samuel L. Jackson in his first top-billing and leading role. Jackson appeared in several movies before starring in "One Eight Seven," but he was mainly in supporting roles or co-leads. In this film, Jackson is the focal character who is a substitute teacher in a rough Los Angeles public school. Kevin Reynolds directed, and Scott Yagemann is the writer for the film. Yageman based the story on his experience as a teacher in L.A.

The 90s produced many high school-themed movies. It was a popular genre, and there were numerous narratives within. For example, you had biographies, dramas (true and untrue stories), comedies, horror, thrillers, romance, and crime. "One Eight Seven" comes after the success of films like "Sister Act 2" (1993), "Dangerous Minds" (1995), and "The Substitute" (1996). The students were primarily multicultural in the previously mentioned films, but in "One Eight Seven," the student cast was mainly Hispanic. Other films like "House Party" (1990), Juice" (1992), "Class Act" (1992), and "Sunset Park" (1996) had a predominantly black cast as the students. Considering the films mentioned, Hollywood had a formula that worked, but unfortunately for "One Eight Seven," it did the worst out of all those movies at the box office. Truthfully, it flopped. However, the film has a cult following because of its trippy and artistic nature. 

The film flows in neo-noir fashion as Jackson navigates hostile gang members and troubled youth as he tries to help. Jackson gives an excellent performance and provides an audience with a deeper appreciation for his talents. He was already masterful in films like "Jungle Fever" and "Pulp Fiction," but this was a different film for Jackson. 

Director: Kevin Reynolds
Writer: Scott Yagemann

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, John Heard, Kelly Rowan, Clifton Collins Jr., Tony Plana, Karina Arroyave, Lobo Sebastian, Jack Kehler, Jonah Rooney, Demetrius Navarro, Ebony Monique Solomon, Jonny Bogris, Dominic Hoffman, Martha Velez, Method Man

When a student writes the police code for homicide, 187, inside a textbook owned by teacher Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson), he feels threatened. The principal dismisses the incident, but the same student stabs Trevor soon after. Fifteen months later, a physically and emotionally scarred Trevor relocates to California and takes up substitute teaching. To his dismay, his new school is as full of dangerously undisciplined students as the last one, driving Trevor over the edge.