Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Jack City (1991)

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Writers: Thomas Lee Wright, Barry Michael Cooper

Composers: Vassal Benford, Michel Colombier

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne, Chris Rock, Mario Van Peebles, Micheal Michele, Bill Nunn, Russell Wong, Bill Cobbs, Christopher Williams, Judd Nelson, Vanessa Williams, Thalmus Rasulala

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It was a time that there was a new gangster in New Jack City

Plot: A modern-day crime epic focusing on the efforts of two unorthodox police officers to bring down a drug gang at the height of New York City's crack cocaine epidemic of 10 years ago. The film also chronicles the rise and fall of Nino Brown, the antagonist of the film, in a light study of drug proliferation and its effects on poor neighborhoods. As numerous attempts to break the control of the gang fail and violence begins to escalate, how far will the police go to catch Nino Brown?

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I thought I'd seen this before but I was wrong.  Chris Rock is outstanding in this.  He really brings a lot of emotion to his character and gets a few laughs in the process.  What a solid performance.  Ice-T is also impressive, especially for this being his first non-bit part role.  It's a pretty good action crime drug drama about taking down a drug kingpin but it's biggest weakness is the ham-fisted way the 'drugs are bad' message was pounded into the audience's faces from time to time.  Why do filmmakers bother to hit you over the head with shit like that when the message is clearly up there on the screen?  It's obvious if only from Pookie's (Rock) character that this new drug called crack is whack, as Whitney Houston so hilariously put it.   It's a nicely directed film with some good cinematography but the story needed some more work.  Some of the dialogue is pretty cheesy and bad, so much that only the finest and seasoned actors alive could pull off without sounding like utter garbage.  The soundtrack is loaded with some now classic songs.  The Warner Bros. DVD is a flipper with the fullscreen on one side and widescreen on the other.  The only extras (other than text crap) are the anamorphic widescreen trailer for this film as well as anamorphic widescreen trailers for DEMOLITION MAN (1993), MURDER AT 1600 (1997), PASSENGER 57 (1992) and U.S. MARSHALS (1998).

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