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4.5 out of 5 stars
New Jack City [1991] [DVD]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2009
I grew up on a staple of spaghetti westerns (Terence Hill), kung-fu (Bruce Lee & Jacky Chan) and action (Bruce Willis) flicks but as a young black man growing up in Kambuzuma, Harare, Zimbabwe I did not identify myself with any ONE genre. Kine 1000 was a typical urban cinema goer's paradise.
Enter Wesley Snipes in 1991's New Jack City and my whole world changed. Here was a despicable villain, vicious, arrogant and totally self-serving an individual as you ever will see, yet he was charming ang very likeable at the same time. I identified with him, I hated his politics (so to speak) but in the same breath I knew a 1000 like him who corrupted nations and enriched themselves while so doing. The movie was set in America but it could have been enacted in any urban city in the world.
Happening, relevant and totally and brutally believable! Snipes is excellent, Allen Payne, Ice T, Judd Nelson & Chris Rock not far behind this movie set the the tone for all drug related movies to follow. Brilliant movie, brilliant acting, this film turned me off drugs for life!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2006
I have to say I thought this film was very bad when I first watched it, but I have seen it probably 10 times now in total and I think it deserves a good rating. Yes there are flaws in the acting and stereotyping and with the plot, but thats not the reason I like the film so much. New Jack City is set to such a specific time in the early 90's that it just has a such an appeal, it seems so out of date that the style is retro. The film is over the top in most ways you can imagine but again that makes it enjoyable and entertaining to watch. If you like films such as Boyz in the Hood and Menance II Society you will definately like this film. It remains a film that is very time specific, with a real inner city feel that you don't see in a lot of gangster films. A great soundtrack and one that is worth watching numerous times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
New Jack City is directed by Mario Van Peebles (who also co-stars) and written by Thomas Lee Wright and Barry Michael Cooper. It stars Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Judd Nelson, Allen Payne, Chris Rock, Bill Nunn, Bill Cobbs and Michael Michele. Music is by Vassal Benford and Michael Colombier and cinematography by Francis Kenny.

New York City, 1986 and crack cocaine is the drug of choice and Nino Brown (Snipes) and his gang, the Cash Money Brothers, are building a violent empire and cornering the market. Enter streetwise cop Scotty Appleton (Ice-T) and loose cannon Nick Peretti (Nelson), who form an uneasy partnership willing to push the law's boundaries to bring Nino down...

The Black Scarface!

On narrative terms it's basically an urban modernisation of the Scarface story, the themes at work were nothing new back then, never mind in cinema post 1991. That it is predominantly an African American film caused many at the time to call it a Blaxploitation picture for the 90s set, which is unfair, because it has more on offer than that and doesn't shy away from the dramatics available with such a story. True, it isn't pulling up any trees or breaking new ground in the drug/crime order of cinema, but it's incendiary enough to be thrilling whilst never romanticising the lifestyle of the drug gang. It paints a stark world of a drug infested city populated by colourful gang members, hapless addicts and edgy coppers, all sound tracked by pulse pounding hip-hop beats.

This was Van Peebles' first big screen directing outing and it's a hugely impressive debut. So much so it begs the question on why his subsequent directing career has been something of a none event. Here he delves deep into the realm of neo-noir to provide the picture with many visual smarts and techniques. Backgrounds are often showing oblique angles, colour schemes such as garish greens feature in striking compositions, a flashing red light is used adroitly on a character's face as he struggles to hold his rage, a POV shot of a basketball and the opening of the film with a slow zoom in on a crime about to be committed on a bridge, these are just some of the flair tricks showcased by Peebles.

While some of the key characters that form Nino's gang are under developed, Peebles does garner a great performance out of Snipes and very good turns from Ice-T and Nelson. Snipes provides Brown with a sinister swagger, yet a charm exudes from him that makes it believable that people would be willing to be led by him. Ice and Nelson are a cool double act, both Scotty and Nick pulse with machismo but are equally flawed as characters. The other important character and performance is Pookie played by Rock, a reformed crack addict now helping the police. Peebles is unsubtle in his handling of the Pookie situation, but it strikes the requisite emotional chord and puts further dramatic worth into an already tense filled thriller.

It's not as revolutionary as was once heralded, there is some formula familiarity and the finale is telegraphed too easily, but this has energy and style to burn. Making it one of the leading lights of the drug crime sub-genre of neo-noir. It's a damn shame Peebles was never this good again. 8/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2005
New Jack City is an out of this world film. It brings you to the life of crack cocaine in 1980's New York. Wesley Snipes plays one of his best roles as Nino Brown, an notorious crime lord who turns to the biggest drug lord in New York. But you can't have a baddie without a goodie, well make that two. Ice T and Judd Nelson play reject 'New Jack' cops Scottie Appleton and Nick Peretty who won't stop at nothing until they bring down the prize, Nino Brown. Throughout this film you see the highs and lows of New York City and how much crack is destroying the city. And believe me, if your a Wesley Snipes fan, you'll love this film.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Drugs ain't a black thing, or a white thing. It's a death thing. Death don't give a s*** about color."-Nick Perrti

I first saw this in 1993 and was totally blown away by the directing, cinematography, script and acting and so I was really looking forward to seeing it again after an absence of almost thirteen years. But after seeing this a second time, I could scarcely believe I was watching a film I had remembered very well. In 1994 I would have given this film 5 out of 5 but instead I've given it a 4 due to its frail ending.

New Jack City (1991) is an interesting movie that aims to please. This film marks the first time Mario Van Peebles directed a theatrical released film (that his father helped co-write) and he co-stars in the film as well. The movie follows a small time hood Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) who builds up a vast criminal empire by flooding the streets with crack cocaine. Ice-T and Judd Nelson co-stars as well as two unorthodox cops who want to lock up Nino Brown. Allen Payne (Gee Money) and Mario van Peebles himself (Stone) has also giving some approved performances in here.

The acting is not the strongest part of this film but to me, three men made this film worthy of attention which is Wesley, Ice-T, and Rock. Chris Rock is unforgettable in this movie and he shines in his role as the "crack-head" Pookie. He has so many one-liners that are hysterical funny. The real winner is truly Wesley Snipes, who plays a role we don't usually identify with him, and does so with considerable spirit. He is utterly believable; the scene where he describes first killing someone while high on drugs scared the crap out of me - this is not someone I want as a friend! - Which happens to be a central theme of this film.

There are flaws in it to be sure, primarily of continuity - there are moments for which we are unprepared, and loose ends that don't get tied. The "Cash Money" drug cartel never gets its act together as a criminal organization - which may be the point, but in which case this needs greater exploration on the street level - without soldiers, you have no army, a lesson the Mafia could still teach the younger gangs. But taken all-in-all, "New Jack City" is a tough crime thriller, well-presented, with a great cast at their strongest. Despite it flaws, it holds a lot of strong and impressive moments which makes this worth a watch.
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Nino Brown, a small time drug dealer, is convinced by one of his fellow thugs that the wave of the future is in the cocaine derivative, crack.

Brown sees potential in crack and sets out to establish himself as chief kingpin by killing off his rivals and even going as far as to take over a whole apartment complex.

Out to stop him are undercover cops Scottie Appleton and Nick Paretti. Appleton especially wants to get Nino because of the fact that he may have murdered his mother as part of a gang initiation.

Also involved is Pookie, a former crack head who wants to bring down Nino as well......

This film is ground breaking for one simple reason, it opened the door for gangster rappers/hip hop stars to become lucrative. So if it wasn't for this movie, Trespass, Juice, Above The Rim, and Menace II Society, probably wouldn't exist.

It also shows that Snipes wasn't always an action star. Before Passenger 57 came to fruition, he was a scary screen presence, as this proves.

But just as Scarface has been misunderstood (seen here ironically), the film doesn't show how powerful Drug Lords are, it clearly shows how greedy, how selfish, and how lonely they become, the more money they have.

After all, when is enough enough?

Peebles is an adequate director, but he does sometimes ask the audience to swallow some huge coincidences, and the police are not very well fleshed out, so the focus is on Brown and the Cash Money crew, so thank goodness that they are so entertaining.

Rock shows up as the addict, and may as well be wearing a t-shirt saying 'this is what drugs will do to you' as he's only there as a metaphor for addiction.

But all in all, it's a very watchable, very early nineties, piece of exploitation.
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on 1 January 2015
Mario van Peebles has certainly proved himself here as a worthy actor/director here (along with his contemporary Spike Lee does on various occasions).

Set in New York, this "urban drama/thriller" focuses on the efforts of a police department to bring down master criminal Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes - who is thoroughly evil as the main villain) and his empire.

Tasked with the eventual downfall of Brown, is police officer Stone (Peebles) who enlists the aid of two 'renegade' policemen Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson) and Scotty Appleton (Ice T), the two officers eventually overcome their personality clashes and work together to rid their neighborhood of Brown.

Closely connected to a crack addict, Pookie (Chris Rock : very realistic in the role), is used as a 'mole' to infiltrate Brown's criminal empire - with tragic consequences.

Seeing the 'status quo' fall apart (his associates are killed by rivals or betrayed), Brown murders a number of people, even his closest confidant, Gerald 'Gee' Money (Allen Payne), soon after he confronted and beaten severely by Appleton in his apartment.

Appleton reveals that his mother was the schoolteacher murdered by a crack addict - a young Nino Brown did the crime to gain acceptance by criminals - during a failed trial, it looks like Brown is going to escape justice : despite many testifying against him.

Then a senior citizen "The Old Man" (Bill Cobbs), who confronted Brown on a number of occasions - along with being fed up of the lack of efforts by the police - succeeds where the NYPD have failed : he shoots Brown dead with a single bullet to the chest, effectively ending Nino Brown's chances of re-establishing himself ever again.

When I first seen "NJC", I didn't like it at all, I (in all honesty) dismissed it as another "crime/gang" movie, Boyz in the Hood came out the same year : 1991. In time, I got to like NJC, because it explores both the supposedly glamorous side to crime and the tragic consequences also.

All performances are excellent - no matter how small - if ever there was an award for "urban crime/thrillers", this film has more than earnt its place there - rating : 9/10!.
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.(THE FILM)
Where survival depends on friends, trust and power... An organized crime family out to run this city is up against cops who knows its streets.
this film is hard hitting.
It is just as relevant today as it was back in 1991
(New Jack City) is one great movie, but the thing that really made it special was Wesley Snipes is as the original (American Gangster)
he portrayal of a totally despicable character in Nino Brown.
He didn't portray Nino as the stereotypical drug dealer.
Instead he portrayed Nino as a highly intelligent man who you wonder what would have happened if he had put his intelligence to more productive pursuits.
in another word he is a new breed of gangster. a new public enemy. and is all out to make a new family of crime.
we have Also, Ice-T who is good in his first major role,
plus Judd Nelson's and Chris Rock and Mario Van Peebles all give stand-out performances,
we also have the lovely and gifted actress Michael Michele
with all the rest of the cast provide excellent support This is matched by a cool,absorbing hip-hop/R'nB soundtrack that plays through a lot of the scenes in the film,adding a believable feel to the heavy amount of violence and bad language in the film, it is ultimately necessary to convey the reality at the heart of the story
The message of this film was plain and simple: Crack can lead a person nowhere in life and can damage the lives of others. If we do not continue to fight the war on drugs, then drugs will continue to destroy any country.
This message along with the film, itself, should deserve mention in any film that has a positive message, and "New Jack City" will always be an extraordinary gangster classic that will continue to teach people
about the choices that we make
and how it will determine whether or not we will reach our downfalls.
((New Jack City))is the best to come out of the urban gangster genre of early 90's.
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on 25 April 2007
This was a good film Wesley Snipes was awesome as the main character Nino Brown he was the despicable character in the film by far however he had charisma and commanded the screen during the scenes he had it was most probably the best performance of his acting career he seems to have degraded into the typecast action man role today which is a shame because he showed real talent here Ice T plays Scotty Appleton a police officer who desperately wants to bring Nino down his acting doesn't leave too much of an impression im afraid in some of the more intense scenes he seemed pathetic and was massively outshined by Wesley Snipes and some of the other actors the film is good if you want a decent little crime film but do not watch it expecting a Tarantino like film because it is nothing of the sort i saw it a few months ago for the first time so i may have enjoyed it much more had i seen it in 1991 as it hasn't aged very well the support from the actors doesn't leave too much impression either Chris Rock plays Pookie a crack addict from the same hood as Nino his acting is good he tries really hard and is such a shocker in a serious role however he isn't in the movie enough, Mario Van Peebles is pretty feeble in his very small role it is easy to forget who he is as he only appears in two or three scenes, Allen Payne stars as Nino's best friend Gee Money his performance is also good but he doesn't leave too much impression and doesn't make his last scene as intense as it should have been as Snipes tried really hard in that scene I couldn't see any point to Judd Nelson being in the film at all his acting is abysmal and in my opinion he should have been awarded with the worst supporting actor razzie he is dreadful in the delivery of his lines and adds nothing new to the film whatsoever i mean a bratpacker in a black/crime film doesn't work at all and it shows here however it is a enjoyable enough film for Wesley Snipes performance and some of the scenes are entertaining just don't go see it expecting something awesome
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VINE VOICEon 25 February 2015
Fast paced and hardhitting drug drama come thriller.

Lots of action and a tale of morality as ruthless gangster Wesley Snipes builds a drug empire hooking large parts of the local community on his super drug. Mario Van Peebles Ice T and Judd Nelson play mis matched cops brought together to take him down.

Part action, part social drama, part thriller this throws alot into the mix, some of it works some does not, but it 7s fast paced, stylish and violent and surprisingly still very relevant over 20 years on.Peebles directed and it seems a shame he did not go onto much bigger projects as he gets brilliant performances and can certainly tell a good story.

Snipes steals the whole film as he really plays a great villain, with nods to Scarface this really is a grim tale of excess and greed, but very very watchable.
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