"Fresh" Chess Connections Starring Laurence Fishburne & Samuel L. Jackson (Today In History)

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 1, 2011 2:01 AM
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Today in history, September 1, 1972... American chess legend Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky of the then Soviet Union to win the international chess crown in a match made for the cold war era, in Reykjavík, Iceland.

In 1993, Laurence Fishburne co-starred in a drama titled Searching For Bobby Fischer, which wasn't about the chess master, but rather was based on the life of another chess prodigy, Joshua Waitzkin, who wasn't even born when Fischer won the 1972 title. The title of the film speaks to Waitzkin's desire to be the kind of winner that Fischer was in his prime.

But I'd like to point you to another film in which the rules of the game of chess play a pivotal role in the progression of the film and the influence it has on its characters.

I'm referring to Boaz Yakin's 1994 drama Fresh, which I rarely hear mentioned anymore, despite how fresh (pun intended) the movie is, with a stellar cast that included Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N'Bushe Wright, and Sean Nelson, as the titular character.

In Fresh, Boaz Yakin's feature debut, a 12-year-old drug runner nicknamed Fresh (Nelson), a precocious, introspective kid, uses chess philosophy, steadfastly taught to him by his estranged father (Samuel L. Jackson), a speed chess player/hustler, as the chess board becomes a metaphor for life, as seen through the eyes of young Fresh, who plots a coldly brilliant plan to save himself and his junkie sister (Wright) from a world of drugs and violence.

If you haven't seen Fresh, it's well worth a look! And lucky for you, it's on DVD, as well as VOD via Netflix and Amazon.com; also someone uploaded the entire film onto YouTube!

Here's scene 5:

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  • Dax | September 2, 2011 4:41 AMReply

    Sam L. kills this character like no other, he goes in with skill and boundless life, then you go watch "Snakes on a plane" and Say WTF? He should be in the same convo with Denzel, Pacino, Deniro, etc, but he lacks more of these types of performances to me!

  • brandi | September 1, 2011 6:32 AMReply

    I just saw Fresh a few months ago and I loved it.

  • JMac | September 1, 2011 4:33 AMReply

    Fresh was the bomb! I make everyone see that movie.

    @ Emma. The post is about Fresh, not Bobby Fischer. Catch up. You're on a black film blog.

  • Neziah | September 1, 2011 3:56 AMReply

    It's a very good film. I remember when Ebert gave it four out of four stars.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | September 1, 2011 3:14 AMReply

    "Fresh" is the best yet most slept-on AA film of the last twenty years. Yeah, I said it. If you haven't watched this movie yet, you're still losing.

  • Chris L. Robinson | September 1, 2011 2:51 AMReply

    Saw this at the movies when it first came out. Loved it. N'Bushe Wright just kept breaking my heart over and over and over....

  • Emma Green | September 1, 2011 2:26 AMReply

    Why no mention of the recent documentary all about the Fischer vs Spassky match, Bobby Fischer Against the World?


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