One Eight Seven

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One eight seven ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kevin Reynolds
Produced by Bruce Davey
Stephen McEveety
Written by Scott Yagemann
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
John Heard
Kelly Rowan
Clifton Collins Jr.
Cinematography Ericson Core
Edited by Stephen Semel
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
July 30, 1997 (U.S. release)
Running time
120 minutes
Language English
Budget $20 million (estimated)
Box office $5,716,080 (USA)

One Eight Seven (also known and abbreviated as 187) is a 1997 crime drama film directed by Kevin Reynolds. It was the first top-billed starring role for Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a Los Angeles teacher caught with gang trouble in an urban high school. The film's name comes from the California Penal Code Section 187.

Plot summary[edit]

Trevor Garfield is an African American high school science teacher at Roosevelt Whitney High School, a high school in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Dennis Broadway, a gangster student to whom he had given a failing grade threatens to murder him, writing the number 187 (the California police code for homicide used in many popular rap lyrics) on every page of one of Garfield's textbooks. The administration ignores the threat, and Dennis ambushes Garfield in the hallway, stabbing him in the back and side abdominal area multiple times with a shiv.

Fifteen months after surviving from the ordeal, Garfield, now a substitute teacher, has relocated to John Quincy Adams High School in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, but the trouble starts again when he becomes a substitute to a rowdy, unruly class of rejects, including a Chicano tag crew by the name of "Kappin' Off Suckers" (K.O.S.). Their leader, Benito "Benny" Chacón, a menacing felon attending high school as a condition of probation, makes it clear to Garfield that there will be no mutual respect between them.

The tension mounts when a fellow teacher, Ellen Henry, confides that Benny has threatened her life, an action against which the administration of the school refuses to take action, fearing legal threats. After Benny murders a rival tagger in cold blood, he inexplicably disappears, and Benny's severely unstable tag partner, César, takes over as leader and class antagonist. When César steals Garfield's family heirloom watch, again the principal is more concerned about a lawsuit and again refuses to take any action to recover Garfield's watch. The watch was used in a science experiment where Garfield gives a small dose of Demerol to a pet rat. He mistakenly informs the class that Demerol is Morphine Sulfate of his own. Ellen and Garfield develop a close friendship that approaches the beginnings of a relationship, but which is stymied by Garfield's diffident and destabilizing behavior, likely arising from post-traumatic stress disorder and his confrontations with the K.O.S.. Garfield's past also garners him the unwanted admiration of Dave Childress, a burned-out, alcoholic history teacher who carries and keeps guns at the school.

The conflict between Garfield and the K.O.S. escalates with the killing of Jack, Ellen's dog. César, after spraying cartoon graffiti depicting a dog with a "dead" face, is shot with a syringe filled with morphine attached to the end of an arrow. He passes out, and wakes up to find one of his fingers cut off. César later recovers the finger and it is reattached, though the letters "R U DUN" ("are you done?") have been tattooed onto it as a warning.

A student Garfield has tutored, a Chicana by the name of Rita Martínez, faces continuing abuse from both the K.O.S. and Childress, and drops out. The school administration is hopelessly mired in bureaucracy and unable to intervene. After Benny is found dead in the Los Angeles River, apparently of a drug overdose, it is revealed during a confrontation with Ellen after she finds Benny's rosary in Garfield's apartment that Garfield took matters into his own hands, killing Benny and severing César's finger in a gruesome contest of street justice. Garfield, clearly now becoming unhinged, lets Ellen leave as she disavows his actions.

The K.O.S. plan to murder Garfield after they accuse him of killing Benny and amputating César's finger. The conflict comes to a head at Garfield's house, as the gang forces Garfield into a contest of Russian roulette with César (who gets the idea from watching The Deer Hunter). The latter's resolve is finally shaken, as Garfield gets through to him about the lost-cause lifestyle he has led, saying "Your whole way of life is bullshit. Macho is bullshit." Hesitating at his turn, César watches as Garfield, offering to take his turn for him, takes the revolver and shoots himself in the head. Driven by his personal sense of honor and ignoring the protests of his horrified friends, César insists on taking his rightful turn and ends up killing himself in the same manner as his teacher.

Later on graduation day, Rita, who returns and completes her studies along with former K.O.S. member Stevie, offers a tribute to Garfield by reading an essay about him at commencement. The essay incorporates the theme of the Pyrrhic victory, which Garfield had once explained to her in a tutoring session. The film ends on a somber note as Ellen, presumably disheartened at the incident, appears to leave the school (she throws her teaching certificate into a garbage bin).


Actor Role
Samuel L. Jackson Trevor Garfield
John Heard Dave Childress
Kelly Rowan Ellen Henry
Clifton Collins, Jr. César Sánchez
Tony Plana Principal García
Karina Arroyave Rita Martínez
Jack Kehler Larry Hyland
Method Man Dennis Broadway
Kathryn Leigh Scott Anglo Woman


The film was poorly received by critics, receiving a 31% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film grossed $5.7 million domestically in its theatrical release.

Filming locations[edit]


One Eight Seven OST.jpg
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released July 29, 1997
Recorded 1997
Genre Hip hop, electronica, trip hop
Label Atlantics
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]

Music from the Motion Picture 187 is the soundtrack to the 1997 film, One Eight Seven. It was released on July 29, 1997 through Atlantic Records and unlike films like Dangerous Minds and The Substitute that dealt with similar subject matter, this soundtrack did not receive an urban music soundtrack, instead the soundtrack was made up of trip hop, a combination of hip hop and electronica.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Performing artist Length
1. "Slack Hands"   Galliano 4:46
2. "Spying Glass"   Massive Attack 5:20
3. "Release Yo' Delf (Prodigy Remix)"   Method Man 4:54
4. "Stem"   DJ Shadow 3:25
5. "Flipside"   Everything But the Girl 4:30
6. "Karmacoma"   Massive Attack 5:21
7. "In November"   Dave Darling 4:28
8. "Neither Sing Sing nor Baden Baden"   Bang Bang 5:57
9. "Raincry"   God Within 5:40
10. "Pregao"   Madredeus 4:03
11. "The Wilderness"   V Love 5:16
12. "Mankind, Pt. 2"   Jalal Mansur Nuriddin 5:02


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]