Penitentiary II (1982)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Prison Film  |   Release Date - Apr 2, 1982 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Jamaa Fanaka's sequel to the surprise hit Penitentiary has all that film's outrageous content but little of its charm. If Penitentiary flirted with going over the top, Penitentiary 2 flings itself over the edge completely. The key problem with the sequel is the wild inconsistency of its story, which piles on an array of subplots that go nowhere and relies on absurd plot contrivances to get Too Sweet back in the prison boxing ring. It also gratuitously recycles many of its predecessor's highlights in a less-inspired fashion, right down to the prison-set boxing finale. Fanaka's direction often brings a surreal touch to the proceedings, especially a brutal bedroom fight between Too Sweet and Half Dead that is swamped in steam and pink light, but these touches do little to create interest in the convoluted story line. Penitentiary 2 is further hurt by performances that are often painfully amateurish, the worst culprit being Leon Isaac Kennedy's wild over-emoting as Too Sweet. However, there are a few decent supporting performances: Ernie Hudson is manically intense as the crazed Half Dead and blaxploitation fans will be pleased by a witty cameo from Dolemite star Rudy Ray Moore. It also offers plenty of out-of-nowhere moments of strangeness, like a midget prisoner who hustles ladies underneath the boxing ring for romantic encounters and a scene where Half Dead smashes a bowl of potato salad into his lover's face as an unusual form of foreplay. Despite these attention-getting moments, Penitentiary 2 is too disjointed and uninspired for general audiences and can only be recommended to blaxploitation completists.