"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.