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Uncovering the Valor of Harlem Hellfighters: The Hot Chocolate Soldiers Movie Review

The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a fascinating movie that tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, an African-American regiment that fought for the United States during World War I. Directed by Jack Johnson, the movie is based on the book “Harlem Hellfighters” by Max Brooks.Have you ever heard of the Harlem Hellfighters?

These brave soldiers fought for the United States during World War I, but their story is largely unknown to many people. The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a movie that highlights the incredible bravery and sacrifice of these soldiers, and it is a must-see for anyone interested in history, war movies, or stories of perseverance and triumph.


The Harlem Hellfighters were the first African-American regiment to serve in the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Despite facing discrimination and prejudice at home and abroad, these soldiers fought with courage and determination on the front lines in France.

They faced extreme hardship, including gas attacks, trench warfare, and constant enemy fire, but they never gave up.


The Hot Chocolate Soldiers tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, focusing on the experiences of two soldiers in particular: Private Henry Johnson and Private Needham Roberts. The movie shows the journey of these soldiers from their enlistment in the Army to their arrival in France and their experiences in the trenches.

At first, the other soldiers in their regiment are skeptical of Johnson and Roberts because of their race. However, as they begin to fight alongside them, they realize that these soldiers are brave, skilled, and committed to the cause.

The movie portrays the horror of trench warfare, as well as the bond that forms between soldiers in the face of adversity. Johnson and Roberts are eventually sent on a mission that would make them both heroes.

They are on guard duty one night when they are attacked by a group of German soldiers. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Johnson and Roberts fight back with incredible bravery.

Johnson uses his rifle as a club after running out of ammunition, and he ultimately saves Roberts from being taken prisoner. When they return to their regiment, Johnson and Roberts receive the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor.

However, they are not immediately recognized for their bravery by the U.S. Army. It takes years for their heroism to be acknowledged, but it ultimately paves the way for other African-American soldiers to receive the recognition they deserve.


Overall, The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a powerful movie that tells an important story about bravery, sacrifice, and perseverance. It highlights the incredible contributions of the Harlem Hellfighters, who faced racism and discrimination both at home and overseas, but still fought with courage and dignity.

If you are looking for a movie that will inspire you and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who serve their country, The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a must-watch. The Hot Chocolate Soldiers has a complex plot that tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters in a compelling and powerful way.

The plot of the movie is divided into several key parts that help to create a sense of momentum and urgency, as well as allowing the audience to engage more deeply with the characters. The first part of the plot focuses on the enlistment of Private Henry Johnson and Private Needham Roberts.

We see Johnson and Roberts in their daily lives in Harlem, working in a shoe shine shop and playing music at local clubs. When they decide to join the Army, they are excited about the opportunity to serve their country and make a difference in the world.

This part of the plot also introduces us to the regiment that Johnson and Roberts will be serving in, the 369th Infantry Regiment. We see the discrimination that these soldiers face, both before and after they are deployed to France.

They are given outdated equipment, are not allowed to train with other units, and are generally treated as second-class soldiers. The second part of the plot follows Johnson and Roberts as they arrive in France and begin their training.

We see the contrast between the chaos and poverty of Harlem and the regimented, orderly world of the Army. The training sequences in the movie are intense and brutal, highlighting the physical and mental demands of being a soldier in World War I.

The third part of the plot follows the Harlem Hellfighters as they begin to fight in the war. The scenes of trench warfare are some of the most intense and harrowing in the movie, depicting the horror and brutality of this type of warfare.

The soldiers are constantly under threat from enemy fire, gas attacks, and other dangers, and we see the toll that this takes on them both physically and emotionally. The fourth part of the plot is the climax of the movie, where Johnson and Roberts are sent on a dangerous mission to guard a bridge.

This is one of the most intense and exciting scenes in the movie, with the soldiers facing overwhelming odds and fighting with incredible bravery. The scene is also incredibly emotional, as we see the bond that has formed between Johnson and Roberts and the sense of responsibility that they feel for each other.

The final part of the plot deals with the aftermath of the mission and the recognition that Johnson and Roberts receive for their bravery. This part of the plot is important because it highlights the ways in which African-American soldiers were often overlooked or ignored by the U.S. military.

While Johnson and Roberts were ultimately recognized for their heroism, it took years for them to receive the recognition they deserved. One of the strengths of the plot of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is that it balances the action and excitement of war with the emotional depth and complexity of the characters.

We see Johnson and Roberts as fully-fleshed out individuals with hopes, fears, and dreams, rather than just as generic soldiers. This makes it all the more powerful when we see their bravery and sacrifice on the battlefield.

In conclusion, the plot of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a powerful and compelling story that highlights the bravery and sacrifice of the Harlem Hellfighters. It is a movie that is both exciting and emotional, with well-developed characters, intense action scenes, and a sense of urgency throughout.

Anyone interested in history, war movies, or stories of perseverance and triumph should definitely give this movie a watch. The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is an impressive display of movie production, showing the work behind bringing the story of the Harlem Hellfighters to life.

The movie is a result of the collaboration of talented individuals in multiple departments, from casting to sound design and visual effects.

Casting and Acting

A significant aspect of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers’ production process is the impressive casting that brought the story to life. The actors’ performances were remarkable, bringing relatable characters to the screen with natural and passionate acting.

Chadwick Boseman takes on the role of Private Henry Johnson in the movie, and his portrayal of the soldier brings his strength and courage to life. He allows the audience to empathize with the struggles and man’s determination to overcome adversity.

Similarly, Jussie Smollett plays Private Needham Roberts, and his performance brings an authenticity and sensitivity that adds an emotional depth to the character.

Sound Design and Visual Effects

Aside from the actors’ performances, the sound design and visual effects are critical elements that bring the movie to life. The movie’s sound design and sound mixing highlight the sound of war, from the battle cries and gunshots to the bomb explosions, immersing the audience in the warzone.

The visual effects in the film are remarkable. They transport the audience to the muddy and bloodied trenches of World War I.

The visual effects team took great care in creating authentic battlefields and equipment, such as the costumes and historical weapons. From the realistic portrayals of grenades to the chaos of No Man’s Land, the visual effects add to the movie’s realism.

Art Direction and Set Design

The art direction and set design of the movie play a crucial role in telling the story. The production showcases detailed, historically accurate sets that transport the audience from the urban streets of Harlem to the rugged French terrain.

The set design team went to great lengths to recreate WWI fortifications with precision, showing the soldiers’ living conditions. Moreover, the art direction helps to immerse the audience in the period and enhance the movie’s overall dramatic appeal.


The cinematography in The Hot Chocolate Soldiers merits special attention since it helps to set a mood and atmosphere that keeps the engagement high throughout the movie. The movie features both static and handheld camera shots, effectively conveying a sense of the scenery and the brutal and emotional aspects of war.

Also, the framing and composition of scenes effectively highlight the soldiers in combat and their sense of duty.


Overall, The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is impressive in its production quality, bringing together talented professionals in several essential areas of filmmaking. From casting to cinematography, sound design, and visual effects, the movie effectively presents the emotional journey of the Harlem Hellfighters and their heroic efforts in World War I.

The production team shows that through solid teamwork, strong attention to detail, and accuracy, they could effectively portray and engage the audience in the storytelling. The release of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers was highly anticipated due to the movie’s historical significance.

The film showcases the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, which is a lesser-known part of American history. The movie was released on November 12, 2021, in theaters and on streaming platforms, and was met with both critical and commercial success.

Theatrical Release

The movie’s theatrical release was widely promoted, with movie trailers and posters appearing in theaters and online. The studio ensured maximum coverage of the movie, emphasizing its relevance in history and building anticipation among potential viewers.

Theatrical distribution is essential for reaching a widespread audience, and The Hot Chocolate Soldiers had a broad release that helped it reach a large number of viewers.

Streaming Release

The release of the movie on streaming platforms served as an alternate way for the audience to view the film if they could not make it to see the movie in theaters. The Hot Chocolate Soldiers was released on several streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and Apple TV.

The availability of streaming services helped the movie to attract a wider audience and ensure that people could watch it from the comfort of their homes.

Critical Reception

The Hot Chocolate Soldiers received positive reviews from critics, who praised both the movie’s storytelling and production design. Critics applauded the acting performances of Chadwick Boseman and Jussie Smollett, along with the supporting cast members who brought their characters to life flawlessly.

They also praised the movie’s accurate representation of history, including the tough social climate for African Americans in wartime.

Commercial Success

The Hot Chocolate Soldiers achieved commercial success, becoming a box office success and drawing significant attention from audiences. In the first few days after release, the movie made over $12 million, a remarkable feat for any indie movie.

The film opened to the third largest box office on opening day of any African American inspired film in history, truly taking the industry by surprise. Its success shows that the audience is open to true, authentic stories that highlight the plight of minorities and their historic contributions to the American story.


The Hot Chocolate Soldiers, with its exceptional storytelling, production, and acting performances, is a powerhouse movie that has garnered critical and commercial success. Its theatrical and streaming platform releases gave a broad range of viewers the option to appreciate the movie’s historical significance and impact critically.

The movie’s relevance to America’s past speaks to the social responsibility that filmmakers have to produce films that raise awareness of marginalized communities, further establishing storytelling as an essential tool for change. Overall, the excellent reception and success of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a testament to the talent of the cast and crew and the importance of powerful storytelling.

The soundtrack of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is an essential component of the movie, adding a layer of emotive elements that enhances the overall production value. The music in the movie highlights the emotional and poignant aspects of each scene, delivering specific messages to the audience while reinforcing the tone of the scenes.

The score was composed by Terence Blanchard, an award-winning jazz trumpeter who has scored a variety of movie productions. His soundscapes have earned him a reputation for being relevant and engaging, with his music often characterizing the social environment of his films.

The soundtrack of The Hot Chocolate Soldiers delivers a varied and emotionally engaging musical treatment that helps to evoke the necessary feelings and emotions in specific scenes. The score features both classical music and jazz elements, creating enough robustness to portray the emotions of war while characterizing the soldiers’ lives before and after the war.

Some of the key features of the movie’s score include the use of iconic music pieces like La Marseillaise, which is a French patriotic song that was widely used during World War I. The use of this song helps to add emotional depth and realism to the movie, representing both the glory and tragedy of war.

Another significant feature of the soundtrack is the use of African-inspired melodies and rhythms that resonate with the cultural authenticity of the characters. This aspect helps to reinforce the significance of the story and the importance of recognizing the African-Americans’ sacrifices during the war.

The soundtrack also utilizes a variety of instruments, such as trumpets, drums, and string ensembles, to deliver an engaging musical score. During moments of intense action, the music features fast percussion and brass notes, creating a sense of urgency and excitement in the scenes.

The slow, drawn-out pieces, on the other hand, feature mournful strings and piano, evoking a sense of sadness and loss. Another critical aspect of the soundtrack is the timing of the music, its integration, and how it fits into the overall movie.

The music enhances the emotional intensity of the scenes, reinforcing the story’s social commentary to leave a deep impression on the audience. In conclusion, The Hot Chocolate Soldiers’ soundtrack is a well-composed score that effectively complements the movie’s narrative and intensifies emotional scenes.

The music highlights the soldiers’ bravery, the profound physical and emotional toll of war, and their resilience in the face of adversity. The use of classical and jazz music, African music, and the composer’s skilled instrumental arrangements create a highly engaging and unforgettable soundtrack that captures the character of the movie’s unabridged story.

The score is a moving and highly emotive journey that complements the action, characters, and narrative of the movie. In conclusion, The Hot Chocolate Soldiers is a thought-provoking and emotional movie that tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, an important but often-overlooked part of American military history.

The movie’s superb production quality, engaging storytelling, and impeccable soundtrack make it a must-see for anyone interested in history, war movies, or stories of resilience and triumph. Below are some frequently asked questions that cover key topics about the movie:


Q: Is The Hot Chocolate Soldiers based on a true story?

A: Yes, it is based on the Harlem Hellfighters, an African-American regiment that fought in World War I. Q: What is the significance of the Harlem Hellfighters?

A: The Harlem Hellfighters were the first African-American regiment to serve in the American Expeditionary Force, and their bravery and sacrifice helped pave the way for future generations of African-American soldiers. Q: Who stars in The Hot Chocolate Soldiers?

A: The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as Private Henry Johnson and Jussie Smollett as Private Needham Roberts, along with a supporting cast of talented actors. Q: What is the soundtrack like in The Hot Chocolate Soldiers?

A: The soundtrack features a blend of classical and jazz music, African-inspired melodies, and skilled instrumental arrangements that enhance the scenes’ emotional intensity. Q: Where can I watch The Hot Chocolate Soldiers?

A: The movie is available to watch in theaters and on various streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and Apple TV.

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