Cuba Gooding Jr. is one of many actors that has gone from the big budget releases to straight to video. Over the years this Oscar winner has been churning out the straight to video action flicks, but his latest is stepping back to some of his roots. His latest film Life of a King looks to be giving Gooding a platform to showcase his talents again as opposed to the generic action flick, but does it live up to its potential?
Life of a King follows the true story of an ex-con who sets out on a mission to better the future of inner-city youths in Washington. After serving an 18 year sentence he returns home and establishes the Big Chair Chess Club in hopes to help to not only changes these kid’s lives, but his own as well. This is one of those movies that on the surface looks like one of those clichéd films that have been done to death. On some aspects this is true, but thanks to a great performance by Gooding and interesting story it ends up stepping a bit out of that format. Being a true story clearly they couldn’t step too far out of reality and thankfully they didn’t to keep this film grounded. Gooding gives easily one of his best performances to date bringing a clear passion to the role showcasing a wide variety of emotions to a role that could have been easily a throw away. For some time there were a lot of movies coming along about someone heading into the urban schools to make a change, but they all followed the same story and format and eventually lost their passion. This one does have some of those aspects, but allows the lead to showcase his flaws as well as passion to help these kids all while using a game that is not something immediately associated with this culture. This is more than just a story about a guy teaching chess, it’s a man’s journey to save himself by saving others which is something that is often left out of these films.
This is one of those stories that show cases a flawed character who strives to be more for himself and his family, while also trying to make a difference in the world. Often you get a story about one or the other, but rarely one with both. This is a powerful movie that may not always pack the punch it hopes for, but does manage to deliver the message loud and clear.
Be sure to grab your copy of ‘Life of a King’ when it hits shelves on February 11th. For more information head over to the official site at http://lifeofaking-movie.com/