White basketball hustler Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) goes to work the Venice Beach courts and soon suckers his black counterpart Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes).

Deane, needing money to move his family out of a bad neighbourhood, proposes they team up and go for the big money in an upcoming two-on-two competition. Hoyle agrees. Not that he has much choice, needing money to pay off gangsters the Stucci brothers.

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This caper comedy/drama from sports specialist Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Cobb, Play It To The Bone) racks up the points early, as the protagonists play on each other's preconceptions and stereotypes, probing for weaknesses and openings.

Deane believes that "white men can't jump," the sexual connotations of the phrase becoming clear when he discovers that Billy's weak spot is his relationship with Latina girlfriend Gloria (Rosie Perez). Hoyle, meanwhile, believes that blacks would rather look good than win, while for whites the opposite is the case.

Having established that ultimately, "it's not about black, it's not about white, it's about green", the film leaves the zone and almost throws the game away in the second half before hitting a last minute three-point winner, in the form of a bitter-sweet conclusion.

Snipes and Harrelson make a winning team, even if their partnership doesn't quite stand up to comparison with Eastwood and Wallach in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, or Redford and Newman in The Sting, or even Nolte and Murphy in 48 HRS, while Perez turns in a characteristically fiery performance. Shelton's direction is at its best in the action sequences, with the bright, sun-baked visuals being reminiscent - probably intentionally so - of Spike Lee's, Do The Right Thing.

Reviewed on: 01 Aug 2001
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Black and white basketball hustlers unite in the pursuit of greenbacks.
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Director: Ron Shelton

Writer: Ron Shelton

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez, Tyra Ferrell, Cylk Cozart, Kadeem Hardison, Ernest Harden Jr., John Marshall Jones, Marques Johnson, David Roberson, Kevin Benton

Year: 1992

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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