As one of the more charismatic actors to ever light up the screen, Wesley Snipes built the kind of career that few actors have managed to pull off. The ’90s were undoubtedly his decade of dominance, but his stardom continued well into the 2000s, and he was ultimately able to cement himself as one of the great movie stars of his or any generation.
Like any good movie star, Snipes starred in some movies that were pretty bad, but he also starred in plenty of good to great movies. We’ve plucked the best five movies from his career, in case you’re just looking to watch the highlights.
The entire Blade trilogy is worth watching, in part because it’s an important reminder of what superhero movies used to be like before Marvel got ahold of everything. Snipes’ version of the character is genuinely mean, but the actor also brings undeniable charisma to the role that only a few other actors have ever brought to the realm of superheroes.
Blade II is also incredibly stylish, thanks to some sharp direction from Guillermo Del Toro. The CGI may not hold up, but that’s about the only thing about Blade II that doesn’t.
Telling the story of a pair of skilled basketball players who hustle their way around the pickup scene in Los Angeles, White Men Can’t Jump is the ideal pairing of Snipes and Woody Harrelson, a white player who counts on Black players underestimating his skills.
While White Men Can’t Jump is fundamentally a comedy, it’s one that takes on sharp racial questions and also features some truly excellent basketball. It’s one of Snipes’ best performances.
Spike Lee has never shied away from complicated stories about race, and Jungle Race may be one of his most nuanced films. Snipes stars as an attorney who begins an affair with his white secretary, only to find that his life totally unravels in the aftermath.
The movie is an incisive look at both racial and sexual politics, and it doesn’t shy away from asking complicated questions about its protagonist and his desires. Jungle Fever still feels relevant 30 years later, which is what the best of Spike Lee’s films are able to accomplish.
Snipes is just one part of a broader ensemble here, but Major League gives him a chance to show off his skills as a comedian. The film tells the story of a team that is assembled to lose at the highest levels which starts to win almost in spite of itself.
Major League is deeply silly, but that’s part of the joy of it. Snipes is great as a walk-on player who can’t hit at all but manages to make the team thanks to his impressive speed. Like everything about this movie, his performance is pretty hard to hate.
Starring Snipes opposite Sylvester Stallone, Demolition Man is a science fiction movie that sees Snipes’ criminal set loose on the streets of Los Angeles in the distant year of 2022. The movie’s vision of the future may not be accurate, but Snipes is utterly riveting as one of the great villains that Stallone faced over the course of his entire career.
This is a movie that allows space for both actors to play, and, in spite of its sci-fi trappings, the most spellbinding spectacle on display is Snipes’ performance.
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