The Knockout Game: A disturbing and Brutal game amongst teens, targeting whites and immigrants in Inner city communities. Gregory wants to play.
He wants to get in good with G-Life’s gang. He wants to be accepted and prove that he has heart. But G-Life demands he take the game to its sickest levels, attacking the elderly.
His actions opens up a Pandora’s box of violence that will touch every innocent in his life.
Knockout Game is a cautionary tale that explores the price of violence with an unflinching eye.
Emerging from New York’s inner-city, in 1999 Jamal Hodge burst onto the independent film scene with his first film, ‘An African-American in Russia’. This exploratory documentary earned numerous awards, introducing Hodge to the film circuit as a daring and insightful artist. As a young filmmaker, Hodge’s works have been featured in the renowned Cannes Film Festival, The Sundance Film Festival, Tribecca Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. Hodge has worked on the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Bullets in the Hood as a cinematographer, and on Discovery Channel’s Dupont award winning Series ‘OFF To War’ as an assistant editor. Jamal has been recognized with a citation award from the Hague Appeal for Peace for his brilliant directorial work in ‘The Zapatista Dream 5 Years Later.’ He has received various other accolades and awards including a Gold Spire Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Alumnus Award from Tribeca/Urban Visionaries.
Not one to shy away from the organic pull of the New York City Theater, Jamal Hodge has worked as an assistant director on the off-Broadway play, Prayers for the Ghetto, and as a casting agent for Clifton King and Michael Horne for the sketch comedy show ‘Something Outrageous’. Recently Hodge has performed as an actor opposite theatre legend Patrik Baldauff in the short film ‘Patrik’ (2016) and in the Feature film Wild Men (2016) as the film’s main antagonist.
Jamal Hodge’s first Narrative feature film as a director, ‘Threading Needles’, a gritty drama that explores the current state of American racism, the bonds of family and the fragile but unbreakable bonds of love, was one of two runner-ups at the Hollywood Black Film Festival’s 2011 feature film competition. Hodge is currently in Post-production on a slew of projects, such as ‘Modern Grace’, a faith based Documentary-series and ‘The Last Doctor’ a medical series that highlights the current state of health culture through the eyes of a 77 year old Jewish-Italian Knight. He will release 3 narrative films in 2016 ‘The Jump’ (an inspirational drama), ‘Knockout Game’ (an urban thriller), and ‘The Kind Ones’ (a horror film) which has recently become a selection in the 2016 Cannes Film festival’s short film Corner.
Having worked in the commercial world for companies such as Black Berry and Teachscape, Hodge has directed the corporate videos for the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Healthy Harlem Initiative from 2012-2015. An avid believer in education and an advocate for ‘paying it forward’, Hodge has also taught filmmaking to literally hundreds of kids from various walks of life, at the Japan Society, Keio Academy, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, The Pro-Tv Program, TRUCE, The COVE, and Mythic Bridge. Despite his humble beginnings, Hodge has risen to become one of film’s most promising and dynamic new visionaries. His history of mentoring youth in underprivileged communities speaks to his depth of character and his work abroad sheds light on his ability to cross barriers and explore issues that have long remained undiscovered. As a director, writer, and producer, Jamal Hodge has only just begun to carve out his name into film history.
In 2013 The Knockout Game reached mainstream media with a vengeance. Pundits and preachers, politicians and pedestrians went on and on about this terrible ‘new’ game the black and brown inner-city kids were playing on their lighter skinned neighbors. And on immigrants. And on each other.
Wikipedia says: The “knockout game” is one of the many names given by the American news media to assaults in which one or more assailants attempt to “knock out” an unsuspecting victim. This is often done with a single sucker punch for the amusement of the attackers and their accomplices. Other names given to assaults of this type include “knockout”, “knockout king”, “point ’em out, knock ’em out”, “bomb”, and “polar-bearing” or “polar-bear hunting” (allegedly called such when the victim is white)
Serious injuries and even deaths have been attributed to the “knockout game”. Some news sources report that there was an escalation of such attacks in late 2013, and, in some cases, the attacker was charged with a hate crime. Some politicians have been seeking legislation against it. Other media analysts have cast doubt on the reportedly widespread nature of the game and have labeled the trend, although not the attacks themselves, a myth. Liberal analysts claim that conservatives falsely promote a view that the “knockout game” trend is real, which liberals claim has not been empirically established. Conservative analysts claim that the liberal media refuses to report this trend for political reasons, i.e. due to the game’s racial implications.
At first I didn’t believe it. I believed these assaults were due to the frustrations the locals felt because of the rampant gentrification going on in their communities and that the media was creating yet another fear campaign for ratings. Then it happened to a friend of mines, punched in his face after being asked for the time. Then it happened to my friend’s immigrant wife from Haiti, a kid side-lined her with a fist and ran off laughing. There was always laughter. It was always kids.
They were playing a game.
In a fit of anger I took to the written page and crafted a tale steeped in the only lesson violence tells, that ‘violence finds the violent.’
The Knockout Game is a cautionary tale. Political in its message, Tarantino like in its humor, brutal in its rawness. It shows how a teenager’s unguided need to belong can make them fall prey to the worse impulses among our youth. It shows how when you play a game of beasts you put yourself in the path of demons.
The Knockout Game is my 4th film as a director, it will resonate with those seeking either entertainment or a message. And teach the lessons many of today’s youth should be taught from their parents at home.