Jeff Cole is a recent graduate of the Cincinnati police academy who dreams of working undercover. His wish is granted and through success is given the task of taking down state-wide crack ... See full summary »
Story of a promising high school basketball star and his relationships with two brothers, one a drug dealer and the other a former basketball star fallen on hard times and now employed as a security guard.
Ace is an impressionable young man working for a dry cleaning business. His friend, drug dealer Mitch goes to prison. In an unrelated incident, he finds some cocaine in a pants pocket. Soon, Ace finds himself dealing cocaine for Lulu. Via lucky breaks and solid interpersonal skills, Ace moves to the top of the Harlem drug world. Of course, unfaithful employees and/or rivals conspire to bring about Ace's fall. Written by
Ken Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Mitch and Ace are talking in the red BMW if you look at the background as they are driving by you can see what appears to be a 90s model Ford Explorer and also a second generation Nissan Pathfinder in front of it. See more »
Even Ray Charles can see he's got money.
See more »
Solid and engaging narrative even if it is nothing that remarkable but a good turn from Harris raises it a bit
It is the mid-eighties in Harlem and Ace is working in a laundrette making honest (if small) money while his friend Mitch is rolling in the ill-gotten gains of street dealing. However a chance meeting with Lulu sees him entering the cocaine market, albeit with tentative steps. When Mitch gets sent to jail for a stint, Ace fills the local gap, underselling his competition and keeping everyone fed to avoid beef. With Mitch back on the streets with new friend Rico, Ace continues to rise within his community but still maintaining his lowkey and quiet personae. However coming to the top draws more attention while the loud and aggressive Rico contrasts with Ace's style and trouble is not far away.
It was the presence of Wood Harris that drew me to this film even if the hip hop stars in acting and producing roles did worry me that this was just going to be a basic modern blaxploitation movie that panders to the lowest common denominator to make cash. Based on a true story, it did offer me hope that it would be more than the usual rush to embrace lazy urban clichés and to a degree it does manage to sit above the usual standards of the genre. The connection in my head with The Wire probably didn't help because this is nowhere near the level that that series consistently operates at. Instead the narrative is fairly linear and straightforward but it is still interesting and well delivered.
I'm not sure if I was totally convinced by the character of Ace all the time but he did make for a good centre piece and the film is less moved by the events around him than it is by how he is within them. As such Harris is actually very good and never looks like he is about to fall into cliché or easy action. To a lesser extent Phifer does the same. He has less to work with for the majority of the time but one or two later scenes show how good an actor he can be. The same cannot be said of Cam'ron who plays the cliché throughout. He is effective at it but that doesn't mean I should praise him for ticking boxes with his screen time. McBride, Hall, Morales are reasonable but I do question the value (other than marketing) of cameos from Noreaga, Fresh, Dash, Simmons and others. Director Stone does an OK job but is greatly helped by the sense of period that the film consistently has thanks to the design of sets and costumes.
A solid narrative keeps it interesting, even if it is not really that surprising or clever. Of course compared to most hip hop films this is surprisingly good and it does benefit from being based on a true story and featuring good turns from Harris and, to a lesser extent, Phifer.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?