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I saw this one a while back in the end of 2001, and I was very interested as
it was the true story of the drug game in the mid eighties. This movie is
actually AZ's side of the story(AZ is Ace played by Wood Harris[Above The
Rim, Remember The Titans, The wire]). well, it tells the story of drug
kingpins AZ(Ace), Rich Porter(Mitch)and Alberto "Alpo" Martinez(Rico).
Cam'ron really displays some actin' skills in his part as the trigger-happy,
O-Dog reminiscent Rico("alpo"), Wood Harris gives a very different
performance from his previous roles in Above The Rim and The Wire as the
laid back Ace. but this one belonged to Mekhi Phifer(8-Mile, Clockers) as
Mitch(Rich Porter) he really came out and busted out Rich to a "T"! the
certain flare that was necessary was there...
And havin' DJ Brucie B all in the movie really put the icing on the cake for
a rugged street feel, VERY Authentic...
underrated movie - this needs to be seen
I was scanning through the channels one night and stopped on this film. Man, was I glad. It's nice to see the filmmakers trust the audience and their film by not cluttering up scenes with music. The silence was golden. Great direction, great acting and great music! I could tell this was based on a true story. It was so edgy and gritty it could not have been made up. The hardest part of making a true story work is keeping it real, they did that. I recognized all the actors, some one needs to hire Cam'ron he was great. I don't think you can compare this with New Jack City, I liked New Jack City but it was allot softer the Paid In Full. I could feel the tension in some of the scenes, it was powerful. I might buy this one.
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
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.
I am glad that there is a movie based on the lives of legendary Harlem
kingpins Alpo, AZ and Rich Porter coming out. I saw this movie and it
really went back to the old school w/ music from Rakim("Paid In Full"
is the theme of the movie). It shows the ups and downs of the drug game
is focused mainly on AZ(David Sherwin(Wood) Harris). The surprise came
rapper Cam'ron as Alpo(but is called Rico). I don't want to give it away
but for those people who checked the street documentary, "Game Over" would
really understand this movie as well as those who knew AZ, Rich and Alpo
personally and those who know the legacy of these hustlers.
It gets a 9 from me, I loved it
Charles Stone III knows where to put his characters and how to handle
them. He knows where he wants to tell his stories because he has filmed
in similar places in his movies. He knows about directing actors, about
keeping the spectator focused on the film
His writers know about the
way the characters talk, and about creating an interesting story that
comes from real life so the viewer doesn't get bored
The team knew what
they were doing messing with "Paid in Full".
This piece comes in the groove of the movies we see from time to time about life in the neighborhood ("hood"), black people and their relationships, money problems, hard life, "this is how we do it here" and the other stuff Phrases and situations like this are all over this film; combined with an appropriate sense of reality and personality.
There wouldn't be success in these movies if it wasn't for the characters. They're so important because they have the responsibility of making the story different. It's always the same things, what usually happens; but the characters are the ones that change and we get to know the life of every one of them. And that's probably the magic the movie achieves, because it's about these raw-written, really developed and peculiar characters. It's about the way they are talking, saying "my n...", "this n...", "my man" and lots of other expressions. It's about changes in a place that seems to be the same all the time, from the outside; but it's different from the inside. Changes that occur because of (and I come back because it's the way it is) the characters.
The movie starts as many others these days, giving a glance of the present. Quick, simple, for you to contemplate a character bleeding as he sees (or imagines) notes falling from the sky. Then we are taken to the past; to see what happened before the "glance": in the beginning. Like most of the times, the situations in the past take more time of the film than the ones in the present. I won't mention anything about these situations that involve, among other things, a guy who worked in a dry cleaner but then became the king of money and drugs; another guy who had the money to help his family and to buy nice things before he screwed up, a guy who is fascinated with money and can't control it; the women that celebrate or suffer for the men's actions.
Wood Harris plays Ace, the one who tells the story; and there's a reason why he tells it: in his story things will go right or wrong to the people, but they will all experience something because everything is connected. Harris finds the perfect note for the role, with the correct tone of voice each time he's saying something, and the mix of innocent and intelligent looks. I saw him in "Hendrix" so I recognized his face; but this is another performance by a promising actor. Mekhi Phifer consolidated his name in Hollywood long ago. He shocked me with his role in the powerful "O" and I couldn't recognize him as Future in "8 mile". He adds up another powerful performance to his list as Mitch; we'll be seeing Mekhi around. Newcomer in the acting scene, Cam'Ron, screams too much and puts arrogant faces, and I can't know if he's doing it right because I haven't seen him before. He didn't seem out of place, but it was kind of awkward. I should also mention Chi McBride wandering around the scenes with a lot of style. The rest of the cast (female and male and younger), achieved amazingly by pros Kerry Barden, Billy Hopkins and Suzanne Smith (experienced in casting people for films of this type), accomplish decent performances just to match everything with the story.
What's left for director Charles Stone III is to give some revealing and profound shots in the movie's most dramatic scenes, lead his actors to their glory and generate a realistic environment that traps anyone who sees it. The film editing is also remarkable. All work of the team, messing with the film.
Because the characters in the film mess with each other, and it's a messy film, you don't know why Ace keeps seeing notes falling from the sky, and from where he is telling the story he narrates. We just listen to it; but in some way the movie could be also messing with us.
Any hip hop heads know who Rich Porter, Alpo and AZ. The movie tells their story subiting the names for Mitch, Rico and Ace. The film is told through the eyes of Ace played with great vigor by rising talent Wood Harris. Ace see his boy Mitch (Pfeifer) in a great performance living the high drug life. After Mitch gets locked up Ace decides to take over but he isn't your average dealer he's cool and laid back. While in prison Mitch meets Rico (Cam'ron in a breakthough debut) a hot head who decides he wants someone of the action. On the streets the trio run thangs but greed and betrayal thretan everything and the film has some shocking twists that are hard to believe. The eighties slang, clothes and life are portyaed very well. Producers Jay-Z,Dame Dash ( who shows up in a cameo) and Brett Ratner did their research to make the film look true to life. Regina Hall,Chi McBride go good supporting performances and the direction by Charles Stone III is impressive as is the script. I give it **** out ****.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i must admit i had my reservations about taking time out of my busy
schedule to sit down and watch what i presumed to be another badly put
together "hood movie" ex.hot boys, state property. but paid in full,
paid off! director Charles Stone III, writers Azie Faison Jr. and
Austin Phillips did an excellent job of capturing the essence of movies
in the same vein that preceded paid in full. the brotherhood of friends
-Juice; rags to riches and the drug lord maturation of an empire
finally culminating in tragic betrayal -New Jack City; and camron's
portrayal of the reckless Rico is quite convincing, reminiscent of the
late tupacs bishop and larenz tate's o-dog.
my only fault with a movie of this genre or should i say the fans, is that often times fans walk away from a movie like paid in full and the other aforementioned films with the wrong message. instead of looking beyond what looks glamorous (the fame and fortune of the drug game) fans choose to glorify the "thug life" and end up emulating the characters in the film. maybe filmmakers should be as blatant as keenon ivory wayans was in don't be a menace to society while drinking your juice in da hood "MESSAGE!!!"
I am very happy that the life story of Alpo, Rich Porter and AZ has come
out, I saw the movie and I was mezmerized. Mekhi Phifer(Rich Porter) and
David Sherwin Harris(AZ)(Above The Rim, Remember The Titans)
do great as the legendary drug kingpins AZ and the now deceased Rich
It really tells how crack cocaine blew up the way it did in the 80's and
how "REAL" the crack game really is- How the up can make you feel on top
the world and how fast one can hit rock bottom in the game. The surprise
came from Cam'ron as the now incarcerated druglord Alpo. This was a great
movie and I also recommend the street documentary "Game Over" hosted by AZ
which is also based on the lives of Alpo, Rich Porter and
A street classic 10/10
Coming from someone who grew up during this era (the 80's), I found this movie to be a very honest and real portrayal of the music, the atmosphere, the street, and the drug game in general. The clothing, right down to the jewelry and the kicks they wore brought me back! Even the neighborhoods looked more 80's like in this flick. Mekhi Phifer, Cam'ron, and Wood Harris gave very good performances in this real life re-telling of the events that occurred between the notorious Ace, Mitch and Alpo. I also think that this movie was underrated and should have received more widespread notoriety. All in all, I rate this film a 9 out of 10. There were many lessons to be learned in this tale.
I'm trying to figure out why this movie is being compared to New Jack City? Paid if Full is about 3 real life teenagers who made the drug game in Harlem huge. Azie, Alpo, and Rich Porter weren't fictional characters. I gave this movie a 7 because a lot of their story was left out. To get the full story including interviews you must see 'Game Over'. I know that only so much can fit into a movie's 2.5 hr time frame but there were so many things in their story that was left completely out. In an interview I read that AZ did with a NY newspaper, he stated that he was not happy with how the movie came out because it was supposed to be a movie that did not glorify the drug game. http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/movies/n_7905/ --> the website with the interview. These movies don't compare at all. Just because they both mention Scarface and take place in NYC and because they involve the drug game does not make the movies comparable.
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