Dir.: Jamaa Fanaka
Ranked: #2236 (48.44%)
Hints of social relevance are jettisoned almost immediately in Jamaa Fanaka's first sequel to the deceptively complicated 1979 prison boxing movie Penitentiary, as an absurdly long and rambling back story is stuffed into a Star Wars-style crawl to bridge the gap between movies. Following this sequence, superimposed over a 3-minute long freeze-frame of a front door, Fanaka jumps into a world pulsating with roller boogie, poop jokes, and Mr. T wearing genie pants while holding a smoking lamp.
There's little in the way of prison, despite the inapt title: "Too Sweet" (Leon Isaac Kennedy) faces a violation of his parole unless he competes in a boxing tournament that will face him up against his old cellblock nemesis; meanwhile a hateful former cellmate (re-cast with Ernie Hudson, who fights Mr. T while wearing a rainbow wig, because... there's no reason) gives "Too Sweet" an urgent cause for revenge.
There's a lot to not like about Penitentiary II: without the confines of prison, its narrative is sprawling, many shots and scenes go on far too long, a rape-murder is half-played for laughs, that same terrible love ballad from the first film returns for a painful moment, the role of "Seldom Seen" (oddly cited on IMDb as "Seldom Seems") is re-cast with the less-effective Malik Carter, everything is unequivocally sillier, and I might never eat potato salad ever again.
Yet, there's a weird "bad movie" charm to dialog like "Give me a couple of hygienic minutes," and that saxophone player in the crowd during fight scenes, or Dennis Lipscomb as a schticky play-by-play radio announcer who at first seems to be given far too much screen time but by the end is nearly the best thing in the movie, or Bad Santa's Tony Cox in a repetitive subplot with no resolution, or the completely unearned and doubly preposterous climactic reversal-of-fortune. And I'm almost positive that, for one shot, a child actor is replaced with a disturbing and incongruously expensive-looking puppet.
And then there's the legitimately good stuff: like the performances that work overtime to sell a lot of unconvincing boxing, and how the 20-minutes-too-long of Penitentiary II are spent on character development, and how, in a flash of Fanaka's social consciousness, the usual U.S. national anthem is replaced with "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Fun credit: Rudy Ray Moore was in this?