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Once in the Life (2000)

Once in the life (of drug dealing and organized crime), can anyone get out? During a brief jail stay, two half-brothers, who have rarely seen each other while growing up, connect. One of ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dominic Chianese Jr. ...
Freddie Nine Lives
Chino (as Tiger Chen)
Manny Rivera
Andres Titus ...
Hector (as Andres 'Dres' Titus)
Harsh Nayyar ...
Cab Driver
Sgt. Kneeley
Mike Murphy
Timothy W. White ...
Little Billy (as Tim White)
Little Mikey


Once in the life (of drug dealing and organized crime), can anyone get out? During a brief jail stay, two half-brothers, who have rarely seen each other while growing up, connect. One of them, called 20/20 Mike because he can sense people nearby, concocts a scheme in which the two of them will steal some dope from young couriers. The heist goes awry when Billy, the junkie brother, shoots the victims of the theft. The brothers hole up in an abandoned building, and 20/20 Mike seeks help from an old cell mate, Tony, whom he thinks is out of the life. It turns out that they have stolen Tony's dope, and Tony's boss wants the two thieves dead. Is there any way out? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You're either in, or you're gone.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive languge, strong violence and some drug content | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 October 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

20/20 Target Criminale  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$28,358 (USA) (27 October 2000)


$53,454 (USA) (10 November 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Laurence Fishburne's directorial debut. As of 2014, he has made no other directorial efforts besides this. See more »


Referenced in Misfire: The Rise and Fall of the Shooting Gallery (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Great crime drama with good acting.
16 November 2002 | by (Rocky Part of the South) – See all my reviews

This is really a great unknown movie.Perfect dialogue without the typical clichés.This movie relied on the actor's talent and it was pulled off.It even had a little bit a comedy in it,but it wasn't overdone.Once in the Life is what a crime drama is supposed to be,not the typical special affects garbage with sex thrown in.I especially loved the interracial aspects of it all.

Now onto the actors themselves. Laurence Fishburne was superb at playing a career petty criminal.It's a shame that he's only allowed to show his talent in his own movie. Titus Welliver was fabulous as Fishburne's junky half-brother. Eamonn Walker added flavor to the already perfectly spiced film. Paul Calderon was perfect as a grease monkey/drug lord.I loved his acting since "King of New York". But the best acting in this film came from Gregory Hines and Michael Paul Chan,who were paired perfectly as two of Calderon's henchmen.

Once in the Life is for sure a keeper. ****1/2* out of *****.

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