Mario Van Peebles directs a script adapted by his father Melvin from the latter’s novel about the Black Panther movement, from its formation in Oakland in 1966 to its eventual destruction by the FBI in collaboration with organized crime; father and son coproduced (1995). The information here, much of it corresponding closely to the account of South Central Los Angeles in the 1994 video documentary The Fire This Time, is persuasive and compelling, though the drama and storytelling only intermittently do justice to it; MTV aesthetics tend to predominate, so that even grandiloquent crane shots for funerals are made to whiz by like fleeting attractions. But the sincerity of the project can’t be questioned, and much of the message gets across. With Kadeem Hardison, Marcus Chong (as Huey Newton), Courtney B. Vance (as Bobby Seale), Bokeem Woodbine, Joe Don Baker, Nefertiti, and Tyrin Turner. 124 min. (JR)

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