Hoodlum is an excellent period piece on Bumpy Johnson, the black counter part to the famous immigrant gangsters of the thirties. As a addendum, remember that Clarence Williams III who is in this movie played Bumpy in the beginning of the film American Gangster with Denzel Washington. A cultured man who resigned himself to the the role that he played in Harlem, where jobs were few and most lives were victimized by the people who lived outside of city. Fishburne's understated portrayal of Johnson is a wonderful diversion to his usual scenery chewing roles.
One of the things that the film reminds is the social strata in the 1930's where racial stereotypes and fear of immigration meant, as always, that police and criminals were equally against them at every turn. However, this is an action film at its core, not a civil liberties tome and as a crime thriller it is excellent. One of Lawrence Fishburne's first turn as the star is an excellent backdrop for his skills as an actor, with Tim Roth in an riveting supporting role as Dutch Schultz. The very accomplished hand of director and consummate character actor, Bill Duke needs to be noted as well.