New Jack City (1991)


“I’m not guilty. *You’re* the one that’s guilty. The lawmakers, the politicians, the Columbian drug lords, all you who lobby against making drugs legal. Just like you did with alcohol during the prohibition. You’re the one who’s guilty. I mean, c’mon, let’s kick the ballistics here: Ain’t no Uzi’s made in Harlem. Not one of us in here owns a poppy field. This thing is bigger than Nino Brown. This is big business. This is the American way. ” – Nino Brown

Number of Times Seen – At least twice (Cable in the 90’s and 1 Jul 2020)

Brief Synopsis – A drug dealer takes over an apartment complex in order to build a drug empire while the police try to find a way to bring him down.

My Take on it – This is a film that I recall seeing on cable back in the 90’s, yet didn’t remember much about the story itself.

The film’s premise is quite good yet they fail to make things more powerful which is needed for such a story to be more effective.

The story is able to show how a cartel can take over an apartment complex and create a lucrative business that is quite impressive in how they make so much money this way.

Wesley Snipes is great in the role of the head of the drug trade, but the story doesn’t focus on him and his henchmen enough.

Mario Van Peebles and Ice-T are both quite impressive as the detective son the case yet the story doesn’t flesh either of them out enough which hurts things far too much because we can’t feel closer to them.

The story tries too hard to balance things out between the two sides yet that hurts things because they end up not developing either side enough.

The story misses out on some great opportunities to make things even more powerful here and it’s a shame that instead things come across far too unbalanced between the various storylines presented here.

Bottom Line – Interesting idea that isn’t as powerful as one might hope for it to be. They show how a drug cartel can take over an apartment complex and turn it into an impressive money making enterprise. Snipes is quite good in the role of the head of the gang, yet the story focuses more on the cops than on the bad guys. Van Peebles and Ice-T both do fine jobs here in their roles as cops, yet the story doesn’t allow for us to get closer to them to understand them better.  The story isn’t balanced well enough between the two sides and that hurts things a bit since they had the opportunity to make something far more superior and powerful.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Mario Van Peebles had formed a friendship with Clint Eastwood when the pair made Heartbreak Ridge (1986). When Van Peebles took the “New Jack City” screenplay to Warner Bros., the studio was interested in the material, but weren’t keen on having an unknown as the director/lead actor. Eastwood personally vouched for Van Peebles and told Warner Brothers to “give the kid a shot”. The success of the film launched Van Peebles’s directing career. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)

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