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21 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Wow! I was very pleasantly surprised!

8/10
Author: scirceo from San Antonio
13 February 2005

A 2.0 overall (which is what it was when I looked at it on IMDb), does not do this film justice. My ranking is an 8.

When I read this was a pilot for a series, I was not expecting much, but I'd heard good things about it, and, since I sometimes feel that I'm one of the last Spike Lee fans standing, I thought I'd give it a look.

What I saw was terrific characters in intelligent settings, a well-written script, well-acted for the most part (hey, these are kids). I really cared about the characters and want to know more ... but I guess the series was not picked up. Wonder why? Spike Lee has done a great job of giving us his version of the gritty reality of San Franciso ganglife.

I'm no expert on this subject by any means, but I did find the stories quite engaging. And the characters are all likable, in a weird way, from the sober, intelligent K-Luv, to the displaced, entrepreneurial Nick, to the confused but commanding Peter, all ambitious and ruthless. We must imagine how we would react to our surroundings if we were in their shoes. It's easy to sit on a highhorse and judge these guys, but would we really be any different?

The camera-work was phenomenal, with an earthy, videotape feel at times, and a cinematic one at others -- always appropriate. If you have an HD television, Showtime is showing it thus, and it looks remarkable.

Catch it if you can.

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32 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Very disappointing. Props to Spkie Lee for his attempt, but it was far from accurate

2/10
Author: Jayrocc from San Francisco
22 February 2005

If he wanted to be accurate, he should have chosen some Frisco natives and not a bunch of NY actors who know nothing about the Sucka Free (not Sucker Free). I've lived in SF my entire life, and folks here do not talk or act the way these actors did. Everything was over-dramatized, and the only cat I saw from the Bay was JT the Bigga Figga with his little cameo as a rapper. No shock that he was the only one in the film who really dressed like cats out here (ie his Warriors jersey). Not once did I notice anyone wearing any Giants or 9ers gear; instead he fitted them in some cheesy made-up SF or Oakland jerseys that aren't even sold around here. HP has no bowling alleys, black and Asian gangbangers do NOT wear head or wristbands with the colors of Africa or China's Olympic team, nor does every Chinese gangster wear a Yao Ming jersey and try and sound black while shooting hoops. Further, while there now is a significant yuppie community that has invaded the Mission, all that was shown was some white dude and a self-proclaimed "100% West Coast Boriqua." This is NOT New York! Puerto Ricans here are few and far between, and the Latinos in the Mission are very, very different from the ONE that was shown here, who was without a doubt from NY. Also, HP is not the only black neighborhood in the City. An accurate depiction would have shown the drama between HP sets in their own hood as well as vs. Fillmore, Sunnydale, Lakeview, etc.

This film could've been much better if Lee had done some more homework and had a better storyline to work with.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Streets of San Francisco

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
21 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In San Francisco, a Caucasian family pressed by the real estate speculation, moves to Hunter's Point, an Afro-American neighborhood ruled by the V-Dub gang and the son Nick Wade (Ben Crowley) faces problem with the violent gangsters. However, the drug dealer K-Luv (Anthony Mackie) decides to bootleg CDs and get close to Nick, protecting him. Meanwhile, the Chinese collector Lincoln Ma (Ken Leung) is blackmailed by the owner of a restaurant and he executes him, falling in disgrace with his mobster boss. The lives of Nick, K-Luv and Lincoln are entwined when the drug lord Sleepy (Darris Love) protects a rapper against the Chinese piracy of his CD.

"Sucker Free City" is a good movie about dangerous Chinese and Afro-American gangs in the streets of San Francisco. The film has good moments, is very realistic and it is impressive the scene when Little-O is executed. The inconclusive ending is a little disappointing, but none of the lead characters deserved redemption, therefore life goes on. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Código das Ruas" ("Code of the Streets")

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Why watch an unfinished movie?

6/10
Author: joemacd61 from Canada
18 January 2007

I went into this movie assuming it was going to be a series.

You know the "pilot" feeling? We get to meet and know something about the main characters, how they got to where they are now, and have some ideas about what's going to unfold during the first season of the show.

It was good, almost very good. But I also knew they were holding back some stuff because it was going to be a series. If it was a movie, I would have felt differently because then I would have thought: "Hey, I see where you are going, why hold back?"

So, while I definitely felt a bit cheated by the ending, I was already cutting it some slack, because it was setting up nicely for an interesting series. I was anticipating some of the topics that were going to be brought up during the show. Lots of potential.

In fact, when I watched it, I was assuming that the next episode was going to appear the following week, and started messing with my TiVo to get a Season Pass set up.

But it wasn't available yet. So I decided to wait a few months for the pilot to get picked up, which never happened. After a while, I forgot about it.

It's not until today, when I saw the listing here, that I remembered how I felt about the show.

Frankly, my opinion now is: Don't watch it! Why put yourself through a couple hours of "pretty good" entertainment, with plenty of intentional plot holes and missed opportunities?

It's a true shame they never followed up on this.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly excellent movie, slightly disappointing ending

8/10
Author: Scott Bernstein from New York City
24 February 2005

I have to say that I was surprised at how excellent this film was for a "made for Showtime" film (thought I shouldn't have been that surprised since it was directed by Spike Lee) -- it's got an engaging and strong plot line, extremely strong and realistic characters, solid acting, and it keeps moving at a good pace, yet doesn't bombard you with superfluous action, camera tricks, or extraneous pumped-up music.

My only criticism is that it sort of peters out at the end with a somewhat weak, anticlimactic (nearly ambivalent) ending. But don't let my small criticism discourage you from checking this flick out -- it's definitely worth your time to seek it out.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Amazing Movie

10/10
Author: Sebastian Allard from Toronto, Canada
14 September 2006

I was amazed by the surrealism of this movie to know this sort of stuff is really going on everyday all over the world. It shows you a side of the gang life no other movies wants to show you, more then just the violence.The allegiance. This movie shows you how one gang on one side of town ends up dealing with other gangs and shows you the rules of the street, NO MERCY for any. I would recommend this movie to anyone whether I think they would like i or not. This movie to any one with an open mind as this will open you up in a few new ways. I'm not sure where you can find it but if you do let me know because I want a copy of this since I seen it on The Movie Network.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

WOW and I was just about to order Showtime

9/10
Author: james32144103 from United States
7 March 2005

This movie or pilot was incredible, and to later find out that Spike Lee had a hand in this totally amazing. It's been a long time since Spike has had something worth watching that was not totally focused on the read between the lines subject matter but a real story.The sad part is that some Higher power felt that this show would not make the cut, hello can we say Showtime did not clearly know what they were watching. If not equal to HBO's wire a definite second with potential to one day be number one.Currently I don't have Showtime because I feel that there shows lack that re watch appeal,but if the Slapnuts at Showtime would decide to carry the show I would order it in a heartbeat.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

solid crime-show pilot that shows Lee can do something dramatic outside of NYC (pre Miracle at St. Anna)

8/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
9 September 2008

Sucker Free City refers to San Francisco, where three interlocking stories take place with black, white and Chinese guys on the street. Some are gang-bangers (black), or hard-bitten mafia (Chinese), and the other (white) are more marginalized with some dabbling in some 'thug' business. What's very strong here in a pilot episode is also something of an unfortunate weakness considering it's Spike Lee directing, and directing well: it ends on a note of 'what comes next', of a few too many loose ends to feel totally at ease as a stand alone work, which it sadly became once Showtime decided not to pick it up. While one wonders if they could pick up the reins properly from Lee, or if he could produce the series, or (more logically) if it could properly compete with HBO's The Wire, taking it as a stand-alone made-for-TV movie, it's quality s*** we're talking about, so to speak.

Lee directs with a professionalism that is uncanny, but like any good film artist trying to work into something mainstream he only puts his marks here once in a while, even less than in something big like Inside Man (one of the trademarks though, Da-BOMB malt liquor from Bamboozled, is a fun and nice touch). He does what he needs to do: tell all these stories, set up a lot of things to play out within the two-hours and for the future (as there is uncertainty even in what feels finished), and cast everything to a T. In this case we get Anthony Mackie, fresh off of what turned out to be a turkey for Lee, She Hate Me, as a gang-banger K-Luv in abandoned wasteland Hunter's Point trying to go somewhat legit with his endeavors; Ben Crowley as the credit-card hustler and sometimes coke-dealer Ben Wade, who's parents have decided to move right into Hunter's point across the street from K-Luv's people; (way underrated) Ken Leung as a collector for the Chinese mob getting in over his head with a new decked-out car and debts unpaid.

Lee creates an atmosphere that's tense, funny, and occasionally really shocking (not to spoil, but it does involve children), and he has a surprisingly strong script to work off of from first-timer Alex Tse. Everything easily gets linked together, but the tensions rise with some conventionality- just enough to keep things believable for TV. The set-up is even so good I'm reminded of Oz, where the psychology and sociology of street-life got examined with mature entertainment. One can only think how the characters lives could go on from here, but the fact that Lee keeps us guessing is a mark of his talents; ironically, this is one of the director's best works in recent years, and should be seen by more than just those looking him up this site. 8.5/10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

SFC would have been a 9

7/10
Author: nickofari from United States
12 April 2006

Much better than I expected - more real and gritty depiction of street life in SF than most NYC-based movies. Believable and gripping story line. Negative: Most of the story lines were left wide open w/out any closure. In retrospect, seems obvious it was a pilot for something bigger - just doesn't stand well on its own - just leaves the viewer wanting more. I would definitely watch this series in its entirety. Acting: Excellent acting from a group of unknowns - and a couple good cameos from seasoned actors. Direction: most of the scenes were very tight - no-nonsense, great editing. Camera-work: google-earth (like) opening credits and use of geography was really cool to show where scenes were happening. Some old-time TV scrolling narratives/history were a nice touch. Good recommendation ROH.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Spread the word on this 'Movie': It is worth publicizing, and we should mourn the non-existent series

9/10
Author: bcheigh from Brooklyn, U.S.A.
26 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just to put it out there first: I appreciate Spike Lee films because he has been one of the few out there taking risks about contemporary urban environs. That said, my opinion about this film is simply out of someone who appreciates good character depth and development, characters who are multi-faceted, and plot lines that weave a lot of disparate actions/ characters together (like in "Syriana").

Just talking about the characters, the Lincoln Ma character had the potential to be a great movie character. Here is a guy who controls a lot of power in his hood, and he's definitely well-connected. But he's not self-controlled, he's got a streak of jealousy riding him everywhere, he's always both exercising his power but he's also not that strong, not that strong-willed. It's almost like the character "Iggy" in "The Wire." He's going to snap eventually, but unlike Iggy, he's going to snap real real slow...like he's going to mess up soon. Anyway, in reality of the film, his character is set up this way, but we never get to see what happens. It's great to see an anti-hero who you're not sure whether you like, or you don't like, but you kinda are real curious to see him/her deal with their surroundings....

This is just Lincoln's character. K-Luv's character I thought would be more predictable, the benevolent gangsta. But he takes action/revenge that I didn't expect. It was kinda surprising. Well, to avoid writing more, a TV series definitely allow directors to explore themes and characters whom they create much more deeply. An something that is dedicated to an urban setting will mosdef be about communities...and THIS SHOW would have been on point to be taking this approach. And Spike Lee was going to really go full-on with this.

SHOWTIME: You blew it. Here we had a combination of good story, a real setting, and a director whose interest is in urban neighborhoods, and the people who make a living in urban places. Plus, not to mention the great cinematographer. You missed it SO BAD....and not just in challenging The Wire or anyother HBO show, but just for missing the boat on a new concept on how we connect with our cities, and finally giving S.F. some props...

alright, no more ranting on Showtime. We'll just have to wait until Spike gets his own channel.

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