Every once in while when watching the movies I get fed up with the bad guys doing bad stuff, and I want to see good guys doing good stuff. “Life of a King” provides us with such a protagonist and although this based on true events story line has been clichéd many times, I still enjoyed the movie.
Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Eugene Brown, a man who played gangster in a Washington D.C. hood, and a man who also paid the price by doing 17 years in prison for armed robbery. At the beginning of the movie Eugene is shown playing chess through prison bars with a cellmate and discussing his upcoming release. He is afraid of what will happen to him when he gets out and expresses a reluctance to leave; but nevertheless, he enters society looking to change his life. Eugene struggles to find a job, but eventually ends up as a janitor at an inner city school after lying about his background on the employment form. The kids at this school are rough and after an incident between a student and a detention teacher results in the teacher quitting, Eugene is asked to temporarily take over the class.
In an effort to win over the kids, Eugene tries divert their negative energy into positive energy by teaching them the game of chess: A game that will teach them life lessons in discipline, self-respect, and teamwork. Eventually the kids become interested and Eugene begins a chess club which becomes a national champion caliber team.
Although similar stories have been told over and over again, it was nice to take a time out and see something redeeming. Gooding, who has not exactly been burning up the big screen in recent years, does a good job as man struggling to change not only his life, but the life of others. The students also do a fine job displaying their transition into serious chess players on a mission. I recommend the movie.
( Rated PG; 100 mins).
Reviewers Note: The flip side of the disc has a documentary of a chess team from Brooklyn which nicely compliments the movie.
My Rating: 3 of 5 Checkmates.