I must admit any time I see a Wesley Snipes movie on DVD I am a buyer, simply because the guy has great screen presence (I still see him as the best black actor in the general Clint Eastwood/Bruce Willis type roles zone) and usually (with admittedly a few notable exceptions) he avoids appearing in too many turkeys!
Snipes as usual does not disappoint in this 2006 offering, with a well balanced acting role of "Lucky", a gangster ("hell I probably killed more blacks than the Klu Klux Klan!") trying to go straight despite life's hardships, as shown in an amazing opening sequence using the New Orleans floods as a backdrop, with overall the right balance between acting and action (think the earlier "The Art of War").
This film also has several additional features to recommend it, being:
The reuniting with Mario van Peebles from "New Jack City" who in the director seat, co writer and pushy "good" cop acting roles creates a neat follow on movie with Wesley.
Well structured interlocking stories of the pushy cop and struggling reformed gangster under 1. running parallel with an odd couple of Cybill Shepherd (in full on embittered "crazy mama" role) and her martial arts toy boy (James Liao) who kidnap and torture people in their upstate farm; a group of "dirty cops" who having failed in a sting targeting Wesley that went wrong need to recover their stolen money; and a loser boxer and his girlfriend who get kidnapped by the odd couple (the deleted scenes included in the DVD serve to reinstate the intended build up of this specific story which was clearly cut for general release purposes).
Several great other supporting actors and roles including especially Jacquelyn Quinones as a volatile Hispanic pole dancer Wesley has to "kidnap" to escape the sting and who brings an earthy reality to the role that brings it alive, plus a memorable over the top special appearance by Luis Guzman as a hoodlum porn film producer.
An effective soundtrack by Tree Adams that maybe because I listened to the movie on stereo headphones seemed to underpin the story line a lot better than most other soundtracks (a comment also made by Van Peebles in his "Behind the scenes" interview included)
A great feel for location and image through the cinematography and art direction between upstate countryside and lower NYC.
I came pretty close to considering a "5 stars" given all the above but fear the level of deriving from others (especially several shades of Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction") plus the Hollywood ending defeated that accolade!