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Idolator! Your soul is required in hell!
hitchcockthelegend13 March 2013
New Jack City is directed by Mario Van Peebles (who also co-stars) and written by Thomas Lee Wright and Barry Michael Cooper. It stars Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Judd Nelson, Allen Payne, Chris Rock, Bill Nunn, Bill Cobbs and Michael Michele. Music is by Vassal Benford and Michael Colombier and cinematography by Francis Kenny.

New York City, 1986 and crack cocaine is the drug of choice and Nino Brown (Snipes) and his gang, the Cash Money Brothers, are building a violent empire and cornering the market. Enter streetwise cop Scotty Appleton (Ice-T) and loose cannon Nick Peretti (Nelson), who form an uneasy partnership willing to push the law's boundaries to bring Nino down…

The Black Scarface!

On narrative terms it's basically an urban modernisation of the Scarface story, the themes at work were nothing new back then, never mind in cinema post 1991. That it is predominantly an African American film caused many at the time to call it a Blaxploitation picture for the 90s set, which is unfair, because it has more on offer than that and doesn't shy away from the dramatics available with such a story. True, it isn't pulling up any trees or breaking new ground in the drug/crime order of cinema, but it's incendiary enough to be thrilling whilst never romanticising the lifestyle of the drug gang. It paints a stark world of a drug infested city populated by colourful gang members, hapless addicts and edgy coppers, all sound tracked by pulse pounding hip-hop beats.

This was Van Peebles' first big screen directing outing and it's a hugely impressive debut. So much so it begs the question on why his subsequent directing career has been something of a none event? Here he delves deep into the realm of neo-noir to provide the picture with many visual smarts and techniques. Backgrounds are often showing oblique angles, colour schemes such as garish greens feature in striking compositions, a flashing red light is used adroitly on a character's face as he struggles to hold his rage, a POV shot of a basketball and the opening of the film with a slow zoom in on a crime about to be committed on a bridge, these are just some of the flair tricks showcased by Peebles.

While some of the key characters that form Nino's gang are under developed, Peebles does garner a great performance out of Snipes and very good turns from Ice-T and Nelson. Snipes provides Brown with a sinister swagger, yet a charm exudes from him that makes it believable that people would be willing to be led by him. Ice and Nelson are a cool double act, both Scotty and Nick pulse with machismo but are equally flawed as characters. The other important character and performance is Pookie played by Rock, a reformed crack addict now helping the police. Peebles is unsubtle in his handling of the Pookie situation, but it strikes the requisite emotional chord and puts further dramatic worth into an already tense filled thriller.

It's not as revolutionary as was once heralded, there is some formula familiarity and the finale is telegraphed too easily, but this has energy and style to burn. Making it one of the leading lights of the drug crime sub-genre of neo-noir. It's a damn shame Peebles was never this good again. 8/10
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Wesley Snipes gets the lion's share of acting honors for his role as Nino Brown in New Jack City
tavm23 February 2012
20 years after his father, Melvin Van Peebles, had made a revolutionary film called Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song, Mario Van Peebles would direct something of a classic himself with New Jack City. He plays the superior officer of a detective played by rapper Ice-T who we find out has personal reasons for wanting the drug dealer Nino Brown, played by Wesley Snipes, dead. Assisting him is partner Judd Nelson and a former user played by Chris Rock before he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live". While Rock is better known as a comedian, he gives a fine dramatic performance here. Of course, it's Snipes who gets the lion's share of the acting highlights especially when his character's on trial. While it seems initially the drug lifestyle is glamorous here, it does show eventually that crime doesn't pay. So on that note, New Jack City gets a high recommendation from me. P.S. While I managed to watch this on YouTube, some parts were missing so I checked the Italian upload on the site to watch what I missed and I managed to understand what was going on despite the Italian dubbing.
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Fast paced ghetto gangsta fantasy with an important message
mstomaso31 July 2005
Van Peebles directs a great cast in this detached-from-reality film about a truly evil drug-lord with a head for business and murder (Snipes), and a tough, street-wise pair of cops (Ice-T and Judd Nelson) hell-bent on bringing him down. The message is an important one - slogans are not going to win the war on drugs, and the way the message is carried in the film is more subtle than you might expect. The end of the film makes the point very clear, and I won't discuss it because I do not write spoilers. Like many of the more intelligent films made in the early 1990s, New Jack City is also an indictment of the euphoria of the Reagan years - telling the true story of what that time was like for those living from paycheck to paycheck, or trying to live without one, and dealing with the invisible "war on drugs" which had little to no effect on anybody in our inner-city neighborhoods.

Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne and Chris Rock give stand-out performances, and the rest of the cast provide excellent support. The film also stars New York City, and definitely has an NYC flavor (seasoned with more than a pinch of Hollywood). The cinematography is a little breathless - not unusual for the genre but in this case a bit extreme. The script is good, but perhaps too dense with rich plot details. And the editing provides a few pacing problems toward the middle of the film which, combined with the over-abundance of subplots, detract from the development of the main themes. The soundtrack is excellent - including a nice mix of hip-hop, rap, contemporary soul, and dance music - all blended nicely with the imagery of the film. Van Peebles style is well developed in this film, but I felt that some aspects of the plot were a little too outrageous for the seriousness of the film's message, and I fear that the message may have been lost on many of the film's viewers.

Overall, this is a good film. Entertaining and thoughtful, but definitely not for everybody.
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Wesley Snipes Should Have Been Nominated
Sargebri12 February 2003
This is one great movie, but the thing that really made it special was Wesley Snipes portrayal of a totally despicable character in Nino Brown. He didn't portray Nino as the stereotypical drug dealer. Instead he portrayed Nino as a highly intelligent man who you wonder what would have happened if he had put his intelligence to more productive pursuits. Also, Ice-T wasn't bad in his first major role and you can see how much he has improved by watching Law and Order: SVU.

This is not your typical movie about the drug culture.
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Am I My Brother's Keeper...
rmax3048233 September 2002
This movie was a surprise. I remember Mario van Peeble's father's "Watermelon Man", an amusing comedy that turns anti-white about half-way through and winds up rather a racist tract. It's almost a convention in movies about African-Americans who seem destructive to themselves or others that they are turned on to dope by white guys. Or, if they retain their rectitude, it's the white guys that are at the head of the horde of local pushers. Of course white women flock to the heroes, etc. We've seen it hundreds of times. But this one is different. The majority of performers are African-Americans, both the cops and the bad guys, neither of them perfect in their goodness or their evil. The characters seem to choose their own destinies for a change. Wesley Snipes is not given a loving trophy blonde. There is a token white cop, Judd Nelson, who was my supporting player in "From the Hip," an extraordinarily good film itself, who is permitted to say, "It's not a black thing. It's not a white thing." Crack is the problem here, not race. We're all in this together, which, in these days, is a pretty progressive statement. It's strictly a genre film. There is craftsmanship in it, if no noticeable attempt at depth, but it's well and stylishly done too. Van Peebles knows how to place the camera and when to cut. The performances are excellent for a film of this type. Snipes especially is a fine physical actor. It winds up with the expected shootout in an empty warehouse or factory. I'd kind of put off seeing this on TV, afraid of wincing through the prejudices I anticipated being expressed, and I was pleasantly surprised to find them completely absent here.
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This is a very well executed movie that is an absolute must see
kevin_robbins3 February 2022
New Jack City (1991) Is a movie in my DVD collection that I recently rewatched on Tubi. The storyline follows a couple of friends who build a drug empire and experience riches beyond their beliefs. A police officer is trying to infiltrate the gang but falls short at every turn. As the friends get too comfortable to the point they even start to betray each other a crack forms that may finally be the cop's only hope to catch them...

This movie is directed by Mario Van Peebles (Posse) and stars Ice-T (Tank Girl), Wesley Snipes (White Men Cant Jump), Chris Rock (CB4), Allen Payne (The Perfect Storm), Bill Nunn (Spider-Man), Bill Cobbs (The People Under the Stairs) and Vanessa Williams (Candy Man).

The storyline for this picture has many unpredictable twists and turns. The cast is perfectly selected and I was impressed by Snipes intensity and Chris Rock's range. This may be Chris Rock's all time greatest performance. The dialogue is very well written and the evolution of the characters is well portrayed. The circumstances are very entertaining and the ending is unpredictable and well done.

Overall this is a very well executed movie that is an absolute must see. I would score this a 7.5/10 and strongly recommend it.
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Wesley Snipes - American Gangster
shadowman12315 January 2008
New Jack City is from is probably an example of an early 90's blaxpilotian flick which is straight up with other greats like Boyz'n'Hood. However this focus's on more of the 1980's era when the crack cocaine problem broke out onto the streets on New York City. The movie is brilliant because unlike most gangster or mafia flicks which almost portrait a hedonistic view , New Jack City is very urban and down to earth . The film waste no time breaking into action with no OTT clichés which we have all gotten used to seeing. The script was great with a lot sharp twists and turns. Ice T performance was certainly note worthy and it is easy to see how he would go onto play Law and Order , although I felt there were some stereotypical 'black cop' moments in his performance which I am afraid I just did not by and his partner did not really do much apart pass sarcasm and comes up with probably one good idea in the movie. Having said that the star of the show was truly Wesley Snipes because truly without him this movie would have been nothing , although I am aware that he models him-self after Tony Montana in certain aspects he was actually basing his performance on a real life gangster , and it was a pleasure to see him on screen because he was not portraying a typical hood rat! Instead we have got a person who almost reminds one of Al Capone with his untouchable attitude but at the same time is very intelligent! One might even be charmed or might find him-self agreeing with the stuff he comes out with but Snipes does a masterful job of showing us how evil this man really is although with Robin Hood and his Merry men crew also it note checking out Chris Rocks performance although he was added for humour he did not shy away from the dangers of crack. The film only faulted with a few minor things like the ending which probably everyone saw coming however have said that , New Jack City was from time when I was growing up where the word 'cool' was at an all time high with wacky track-suits and hair cuts but the rap music still has not lost its shine along with a very sharp anti-drugs message. I would recommend this one to fans of blaxpoltation,Law and Order and also gangster flicks or just for Snipes performance alone as you will watch one man who exploits the misery of others as a business opportunity all in the name of the American Way!


'You gotta rob to be rich in the Reagan Era!' - Nino Brown (played by Wesley Snipes)
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New Jack City
oakcourt23 August 2006
As British TV is so bad at the moment I'm re-watching many of my DVDs. I dug this out. Wesley Snipes is a very underrated actor just like his peer Laurence Fishburne. He is excellent in this, and as another user has commented, you see especially in the trial scene that his character isn't quite the dumb-head he appears to be just misguided. It has a fine cast. I dug the film out to watch Judd Nelson's performance again in it as I've just re-watched the Breakfast Club and wanted to compare. I can't remember who directed NJC but it's very reminiscent of a Spike Lee film and just as hard hitting. It is just as relevant today as it was back in 1991 in fact more relevant here in Manchester, United Kingdom as we have seen over the past 7 years some serious divisions within the black community.
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It ain't the Cosby Show
policy1343 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When I first saw this movie, I didn't get it. Hey, I am not from the street, I have never done drugs and I usually stay clear from alcohol. What I did respond to was that you could make a movie, with almost no sympathetic characters, and still be mesmerised. This was something that you had never seen before. Even Goodfellas, one of my favorite movies, had a kind of sympathetic protagonist in Henry Hill. He may have been a gangster, but you could tell that he really wasn't as sociopathic as Nino Brown.

Even the cops aren't that great. The way they are portrayed was further explored in Tarantino's Resorvoir Dogs where the gangsters were also the protagonists. If you portrayed Ice-T as the straight-laced cop, the movie probably would have bombed badly. Ice-T by the way, does not really give an award-winning performance, but he brings a kind of authenticity that you need for a street movie like this. A total weird thing to me was Judd Nelson's part, who I was a big fan of. He is kind of just there, doesn't do anything, doesn't say that much. Very atypical from his earlier roles. This has got to be his greatest performance, even though I didn't see it that way at the time.

It's amazing the cast Mario Van Peebles got. Almost all of them were completely unknown at the time. I had seen Chris Rock on Beverly Hills Cop 2 in a bit part and Allen Payne on the Cosby Show, but had never heard of Vanessa Williams, Bill Nunn or for that matter Wesley Snipes. I later found out that he had been in quite a few movies before, also in one that I saw almost every day for like a month, Wildcats with Goldie Hawn.

What I remember most of this was the scene on the roof where Snipes confronts Allen Payne. What an amazing piece of acting. Can you believe that these guys used to do comedy, and not the gross-out kind. The tears down Snipes' cheek? Unbelievable.

The crack scenes are amazing. Not attractive in any way. The nude scenes, not a turn-on at all. Zombie crack addicts? Maybe a little overdone but still you get the message.

The closing monologue from Snipes is kind of reminiscent of the one from Goodfellas. It doesn't really justify the Nino Browns of the world, but you understand why he ended up the way he did. Both of the characters don't regret what they did, they are just sorry they were outsmarted, although Nino Brown is not really outsmarted at the end. The end scene was kind of a disappointment to me at the time, but in retrospect, how else could it have ended. There has to be a comeuppance of some kind. Remember, this is an anti-drug movie.

So congratulations Mr Van Peebles. You got people's attention and more.
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"New Jack City" - A highly stylized police thriller with an important message...
dee.reid8 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There are few action films and crime thrillers as socially relevant and powerful as 1991's "New Jack City," a gritty and violent portrait of America's so-called "war on drugs" during the United States' "crack epidemic" (the mid-to-late '80s and early '90s). Stylishly directed by veteran film actor Mario Van Peebles (in his directorial debut), the film also makes an explicit indictment of the Reagan-era policies of the time that led to the decimation of many of America's already-crime-ridden, low-income inner-city neighborhoods, and for violent drug kingpins to set up shop and exploit the heavily impoverished, desperate masses (many of whom lived in largely-minority communities and seemed neglected by the larger part of society as a whole).

The film also explicitly condemns crack cocaine and it doesn't shy away from the devastating effects it has not just on the people who are many times hopelessly addicted to it, but for the communities, as well. Using the ultra-bloody gangster classic "Scarface" (1983) as a foundation for its story and as a cinematic backdrop, "New Jack City" details the rise of a ruthless, megalomaniacal drug lord named Nino Brown (a truly effective Wesley Snipes), and his crime syndicate the Cash Money Brothers (CMB) as they quickly and assuredly take over New York City's drug trade and begin flooding the streets with crack. Snipes's portrayal of Nino Brown makes him one of the most insidiously vile movie characters in the history of the medium - a brilliant embodiment of pure evil, viciousness, and megalomania.

Aligned against him, are New York City's finest. Maverick police commander Stone (Van Peebles himself), a determined New York City narcotics cop, has a plan. He realizes that the CMB is too large and sophisticated an operation to take down using traditional methods - they need something else, newer, better, more radical measures of law enforcement. He explains to his superiors, "You want me to take down a new-jack drug kingpin, I'm going to need some new-jack cops!" He finds his new-breed of cops in a pair of outcast narcotics detectives - Scotty Appleton (rapper Ice T, in his first major film role) and Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson), who both have strong personal motivations for wanting to go to battle against Nino Brown and the CMB. And so the war is on...

"New Jack City" was an important film for its time, for its highlighting of the plight of inner-city communities decimated by crack cocaine during the crack epidemic, and the almost-futile attempts by the police to rid the streets of its influence. "New Jack City" in a way was very much like a 101-minute CNN expose, since it succeeded in bringing greater attention to a topic often neglected (or poorly reported or simply glossed over by) mainstream news media before and after the time of the film's release. Like Chuck D (lead rapper for rap group Public Enemy) said a while back about rap music, "Hip-hop is the black CNN," "New Jack City" in many ways fulfills the same purpose.

The acting performances are flawless from all involved. I already mentioned the powerful Wesley Snipes as the main antagonist Nino Brown. But Ice T turns in what is probably his most famous acting performance - before the TV series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," at least - as the fiercely committed Scotty Appleton (I also single out his acting because he's also one of my favorite rappers of all time). Judd Nelson's Nick Peretti works as a perfect foil to Scotty, as the other unconventional cop chosen to fight the CMB and who also has a tragic story of his own for wanting to bring down Nino Brown and ridding the streets of crack. Allen Payne delivers a careful performance as Nino Brown's childhood friend and second-in-command Gee Money. And comedian Chris Rock eschews comedy in favor of a more serious dramatic performance as a crack addict-turned-police informant named Pookie.

I'm 27 right now, going on 28 in September. I should also state that I'm a black male, and I live in suburbia - far, far away from the dangerous inner city where this film's story takes place. When I was younger, I was often forbidden by my loving, over-protective parents from ever watching "New Jack City"; such shielding of me from such a grim reality is understandable, but unfortunately I also find it highly regrettable. Now that I'm older, I see that this is one of the most powerful, and essential, police-action movies ever made - because it highlights the oft-overlooked devastation that crack cocaine had during that time in low-income, largely minority communities - in other words, people like me but who were way less fortunate than me, and that saddens me deeply. So there's an emotional investment in here for me, too.

See "New Jack City" and be prepared to be blown away.

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A flawed crime drama, but it has some things going for it.
johnnyboyz10 July 2006
New Jack City is a pretty standard affair which tackles the drug problem which plagues America's streets, more so during the time that this film is set, that being the late 1980's. It delivers it in such a way that you just know there are some flaws abound yet pin pointing them is a pretty hard thing to do, this is probably why the film seems to have such a love/hate relationship with most people, hence the films mediocre rating of about 'average'.

One thing is for sure, and this glares throughout, is the sloppy editing this film has. It's quick, disorientating, dodgy montage editing technique which crops up now and again is a throw back to what poor edit jobs on television programmes were like and now and again, the camera seems to cut away a little too quickly when someone is giving a line of dialogue; this was very frustrating as just a little bit of lingering camera now and again would have made the film a little more atmospheric. At times, it felt a little like a music video given the chorus of song that sometimes some characters burst into. This was another little annoying flaw which cropped up two or three times. This is a shame as the film had rolled along fairly nicely.

Another thing was the characters themselves. Everyone just seemed to be a little too 'whiney'. They were all too scared to stand up to everybody else, and this included Snipes' character (The so-called black Tony Montana) who really only agreed and went with the flow throughout. Nobody really seemed to actually take charge of the whole set up and authority was only really drilled home after exactly an hour on the clock when, during a scene involving everyone involved, Nino Brown (Snipes) pierces someone's hand with some sort of hidden ice pick he has built into his cane. This was a shame as a shocking; violent scene like this earlier on in the film would have worked wonders and would have punched home any doubts we might have over Brown not being the man to lead this operation we've been introduced to.

I didn't like the construction of some of the scenes, either. This fault is twinned with the bad editing (already mentioned) and one in particular is with the relative ease in which Brown's gang manages to take over a multi storey building. This was early on in the film and this was another chance to stamp some ruthlessness and authority into the film, particularly once again with the character of Nino Brown. The odd execution or anything else the writers could have come up with that Brown maybe would have done would have been most welcome, however instead of good crime film conventions we get sloppy editing with the siege over in a flash as well as a bad hierarchy montage. It's also about as bloodthirsty as an episode of 'Barney the Dinosaur'. This is also a shame as this was a good chance for an action scene of some sort, following on from the good chase scene at the very start of the film.

One other thing was the rather forceful and abrupt message at the end which wasn't too well timed given we're not NEARLY given enough time to catch our breath from the films climax. A pause, some better music and then the title would have done. What's the rush?

Apart from these things, the acting from the police characters; including the internal feud between two of them and the whole involvement of a rehabilitated character joining in was good and was used well to create some suspense in the film, most notably the drug factory scene, even if his behaviour WAS a little unprofessional. I can see why this spring boarded Snipes' career as there are some things going for it but I couldn't give it a second watch so soon after the first and not everyone will like this film but if you go into it knowing of these few flaws I've talked about, it could be a very entertaining crime drama.
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A must for all fans of Mafia-type movies.
fiona-213 January 2000
This is a very stylish movie. All the elements seem to have combined to give it a very distinctive look and feel. The soundtrack is excellent and complements the story perfectly, almost like it is a part of the story. All the performances are great but special mention has to go to Wesley Snipes and the great Judd Nelson/Ice T double act. Okay the plot doesn't really tax your brain but if you are a fan of gangster movies or want a bit of mindless entertainment then you won't go wrong with this film.
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A Pretty Good Blaxploitation Movie
Uriah4316 February 2014
"Nino Brown" (Wesley Snipes) is a vicious drug dealer in New York City who has just learned of a new method for making cocaine even more addictive. Realizing the money to be made on this new novelty called "crack" he immediately corners the market and profits handsomely from those he has made addicted. Naturally, where there are huge profits there are also competitors who want in on the action. Ditto the fact that the police also want to corral him. But while they have been unsuccessful so far a new person named "Detective Stone" (Mario Van Peebles) is now assigned the task and he hires the two most aggressive cops he can find named "Scotty Appleton" (Ice T) and "Nick Peretti" (Judd Nelson) in order to nail Neno once and for all. Anyway, rather than detail the entire story and risk spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this was a pretty good blaxploitation movie for the most part. I especially liked the performances of both Wesley Snipes and Chris Rock (as the drug addict "Pookie"). Along with that it certainly didn't hurt having two attractive actresses like Michael Michele (as "Selena") and Vanessa Williams ("Keisha") either. And while the movie was pretty graphic I thought the director (Mario Van Peebles) handled the subject matter quite competently. As such I rate it as above average.
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The world of drugs
bkoganbing9 August 2020
New Jack City is one brutal ad uncompromising look at the drug scene in New York in the Reagan-Bush era. It's seen thriough the eyes of Wesley Snipes who rules Harlem for a while and through the team of narcotics detectives who are given the task of taking him diwn,

Snipes is mesmerizing in his evil. He sees himself as a Reagan era entrepreneur and is pretty ruthless about stamping out competition. He even goes to war with Mafia don John Aprea and each takes significant losses.

As for the team that goes after Snipes they are a diverse lot consisting of director Mario Van Peebles, Ice-T, Judd Nelson and Russell Wong. Each brings a skill set to the eam.

Two supporting cast members really stand out. One is Chris Rock a eather luckless junkie informer planted in Snipes organization. The other is Vanessa Williams one deadly ht woman who works for Snipes.

Almost 40 years later New Jack City is still a powerful film. And sadly the drug problem remains.
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A good film.
brandonkosto27 January 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Through it borrows heavily from such gangster movies as "Scarface." New Jack City is a good film that teaches (without preaching) the dangers of drug use and those individuals who would use it for their own gain. The film centers around Nino Brown a drug lord who rises to power with his gang by capitalizing on the drug of choice (at the time) crack cocaine. He soon builds a huge empire known as the CMB. A police officer (Mario Van Peoples) is assigned to bring him down to do this he forms a special unit comprised of Scotty Appleton (Ice-T) and Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson). The unit is able to bring down the CMB which was crumbling thanks to the power mad Brown, through Nino isn't punished by the law, he does meet his end.

The film is a fast pace (moving from 1986 to 89' in only the first thirty minutes). Through their are some obvious stereotypes (most notably the Italian gangsters Nino crosses). It's a good film. That has a good rhythm to it, and is probably one of the best to come out of the urban gangster genre of early 90's.
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Snipes Surprises...
Coxer994 March 1999
In one of the greatest patriarchal roles since Brando's in The Godfather, Wesley Snipes astounds and overwhelms as "the godfather" in this film, directed and co-starring Mario Van Peebles. Snipes, however is where the strength of the film lies. His drug lord has no remorse. No heart. No soul. All he has is his power and he wants more of it. The film has a quick pace. The cast is quite good, including Ice-T as a cop going on the inside to try and take down Snipes' drug lord. Judd Nelson is dark and sardonic as Ice-T's main opposition on the case.
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Nino Brown is one of the greatest villains
KOOLAIDBRO15 February 2021
Look Wesley Snipes is amazing and Judd Nelson in a rare ever seen token white guy performance is very underrated. That's it. That's all I got to say.
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Am I my brothers keeper?...
FlashCallahan30 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Nino Brown, a small time drug dealer, is convinced by one of his fellow thugs that the wave of the future is in the cocaine derivative, crack.

Brown sees potential in crack and sets out to establish himself as chief kingpin by killing off his rivals and even going as far as to take over a whole apartment complex.

Out to stop him are undercover cops Scottie Appleton and Nick Paretti. Appleton especially wants to get Nino because of the fact that he may have murdered his mother as part of a gang initiation.

Also involved is Pookie, a former crack head who wants to bring down Nino as well......

This film is ground breaking for one simple reason, it opened the door for gangster rappers/hip hop stars to become lucrative. So if it wasn't for this movie, Trespass, Juice, Above The Rim, and Menace II Society, probably wouldn't exist.

It also shows that Snipes wasn't always an action star. Before Passenger 57 came to fruition, he was a scary screen presence, as this proves.

But just as Scarface has been misunderstood (seen here ironically), the film doesn't show how powerful Drug Lords are, it clearly shows how greedy, how selfish, and how lonely they become, the more money they have.

After all, when is enough enough?

Peebles is an adequate director, but he does sometimes ask the audience to swallow some huge coincidences, and the police are not very well fleshed out, so the focus is on Brown and the Cash Money crew, so thank goodness that they are so entertaining.

Rock shows up as the addict, and may as well be wearing a t-shirt saying 'this is what drugs will do to you' as he's only there as a metaphor for addiction.

But all in all, it's a very watchable, very early nineties, piece of exploitation.
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A black version of The Untouchables
wellthatswhatithinkanyway22 February 2003
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal Instead*Avoid At All Costs

New Jack City is The Untouchables for the black community right down to the last tee.Wesley Snipes is playing Robert De Niro's part as Al Capone,while Mario Van Peebles is the Elliot Ness of the story,making for a black man's Kevin Costner (what a concept).As the director of the film as well,Peebles has also updated it to the more modern time of 1986.And the film he has crafted is an impressive tale of the futility of anti-drug initiatives in the US,gang violence,dealer rivalry and hypocrisy.

Peebles' direction is stylish,if a little uneven,and the film has a cool visual style to it,with catchy camera angles and a few enjoyable viserical shots,kind of ahead of it's time in the pre-Matrix days of 1991.This is matched by a cool,absorbing hip-hop/R'nB soundtrack that plays through a lot of the scenes in the film,adding a believable feel to the black crime scene that is being portrayed.There is,of course,a heavy amount of violence and bad language in the film,so any extreme prudes should probably steer clear,but this is ultimately necessary to convey the reality at the heart of the story,and not in any way immensely gratuitous.

On the performances front,Snipes is ideally cast as the cool-as-ice gangster crimelord,practically playing him in his sleep,while fine support comes from Peebles,Ice-T and Judd Nelson as the men in charge of bringing him down.A good few years before he started over-working his flamboyant funnyman act,another surprisingly great,and non-funny performance comes from Chris Rock as a young junkie desperate to kick the habit and help the cops stop Snipes and his drug dealing operations.

It's similarity to and feel of being a remake of The Untouchables for black people ultimately does underwhelm it somewhat,but it is still nevertheless a fairly brilliant film that is distinctly aimed at the problem it is targeting and is very distinctly 1991.****
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A Timeless Movie !
charlesvine-7596820 March 2017
One of the very best movies ever produced. Wesley Snipes was superb as gangsta Nino Brown as was Alan Payne as G-Money, Nino Brown's side-kick. In fact, the entire movie was wonderfully cast.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the movie delivers an important message...yet at the same time it is riveting and hilarious at the same time. There are many politically incorrect racial and ethic slurs tossed about so the sensitive viewers may want to beware.

Non-stop action that is marvelously delivered by all the actors and actresses. This movie has been described as a sort of Gone With The Wind for the Gangsta population and a break through film for Wesley Snipes.
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Average crime epic, worth a watch for its star performance
Mr-Fusion27 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"New Jack City" is one of those movies that's made by one really good performance. In this case, it's Wesley Snipes, who takes the role of vicious drug lord and makes it his own, commanding every minute of his screen time. Unfortunately, he can't be around all the time, and we're left with Ice-T, Mario Van Peebles and Judd Nelson, who vary from half-decent to awful. No one else comes close to the lead.

This probably had more cultural impact back in '91, but 25 years later, it's more bemusing than anything. It veers toward the cartoonish when it's eye is on Scarface levels of drama (even featuring the movie on TV to hammer home the point . . . twice). The sermonizing also doesn't work so well today, and the movie does plenty of that.

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Hasn't aged quite so gracefully, but then nothing this momentarily fly ever does.
oneguyrambling27 January 2012
When New Jack City was released I was fascinated by the characters and mesmerised by its power – I was also 17.

Now almost 20 years on I see some of the flaws and broad strokes used that detract a little from the effectiveness of the film, but it is still a pretty solid genre piece with a standout performance from Wesley Snipes in what turned out to be a career defining role.

A great opening sequence introduces us to Nino Brown on the job. It is 1986 and while Nino is already large he is not yet LAAAAAARRRRRGE! As he will be a little later on… Nino is the personification of hip-hop cool, he wears clothes that might be described as "fly", rocks several ostentatious gold chains and items of jewelry and almost always wears the obligatory early 90s Kangol hat. He also has a slick tongue and an ear for a quotable line.

Nino's is practically posse-less at this early stage but his right hand man Gee Money (Allen Payne) is already in place. On this day Gee Money brings something new to the conversation, a new drug named Crack that is apparently already creating a buzz in urban areas.

Nino devises a plan that sees the newly formed gang the CMB (Cash Money Brothers) take over an entire apartment building called the Carter in a low income area, using force where necessary. Once under their control they convert the whole building into a home base to run a high tech, organised drug selling premises, complete with employee uniforms and membership cards! The Carter rapidly becomes the hub of operations and a well known no-go zone in the local area… unless you're looking to score.

Fast forward three years to 1989 and crack rules, this time Nino is indeed LAAAAAARRRRRGE, and the CMB are runnin' thangs in a big way, but he has even greater aspirations.

Nino's escalation of operations sees himself get noticed by the Mafia who aren't too ecstatic with their decreasing market share, and the cops, who decide to take action… after only three years! A taskforce is built to take down the CMB – not much of a task force but a task force nonetheless. It is comprised of 4 guys and only three merit description aside from "the Asian guy who hardly talks". These three are leader Detective Stone (Mario Van Peebles), maverick black cop Scotty Appleton (Ice T) and maverick white cop Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson).

These three spend most of each day debating race and drugs, without ever seeming to think "Gee maybe if we take down the apartment building drug complex that might do some good".

As the cops escalate things by getting a reformed crack addict named Pookie (Chris Rock) to infiltrate the Carter and report back, tensions increase between power hungry Nino and former best bud Gee Money. It doesn't help things when a gold digging hoochie named Uniqua (I wish I made that up!) gets involved and strings both of them along by their zippers.

I'll leave the action there aside from mentioning that when an initial police operation fails things move quickly from there until the end, leading to some pretty ludicrous events.

New Jack City is quotable at times, but just as cringe worthy at others with some of the attempts at catchy lines falling very flat. The dialogue between cops is often most lamentable of all, which seems strange as Mevin Van Peebles plays lead detective Stone, and he directed the thing! In 1991 I had no idea just how broadly stereotyped the characters were, all Nino seems to do is play basketball and watch Scarface, and the less said about the Italian Mafia the better.

New Jack City hasn't dated like the flat top haircuts and formation dancing that both appear in the film, but certain scenes pop and Wesley Snipes puts in an over the top performance as the insanely confident and driven Nino Brown that serves as the centrepiece of the film.

Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. For a couple years I thought New Jack City was the best film ever… It isn't. But while it hasn't aged well it is still a solid pic with some memorable scenes and a great bad guy.
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Cracked heat
Prismark101 February 2015
Mario Van Peebles made his feature film directorial debut in New Jack City where he also co-stars with Ice T, Judd Nelson, Chris Rock and Wesley Snipes in this urban thriller dealing with the rise of a black gangster from the mid 1980s in New York City as he deals in crack cocaine and takes out the competition.

Wesley Snipes is the smart but ruthless aspiring Crime Lord very much modelled on Al Pacino's Scarface. In fact at one point we even see footage of Scarface on the big screen playing in the background. However the film also introduces elements of The Untouchables as Ice T and Judd Nelson play combative detectives in a crime unit trying to bring the gang down.

The film was very hip when it was released as it starts with fast cuts, hip hop music and strong violence as it sets out its stall but as the film progresses things are more measured as the pace slows down to introduce drama as the police try to close in on Nino who starts having problems of his own as schisms start to appear in his gang.

The film is uneven, Snipes is very good but Ice T is not. Rock shows promise in an early role but his subsequent career shows that he did not progress much as a screen actor with his comedy shtick. Its also preachy here and there with its anti drug message and not a well written movie. Just look at the clunky way the war with the Italian mafia is dealt with as the Don is sitting on a table outside soon after he has tried to kill Nino.

Once the opening zest and energy of the film dissipates it becomes very much a routine thriller, a stylish one but routine.
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An important film that finds ways to be noteworthy in many different regards
StevePulaski29 July 2014
New Jack City continues to find ways to be more and more noteworthy, right down to its director, noted blaxploitation pioneer Mario Van Peebles, who uses a genre once largely confined to joke and ridicule to great, serious effect with this particular film. One could look at New Jack City and say it is more of an urban Scarface, acknowledging the crack epidemic that occurred in American during the 1980's and early 1990's with incredible attention to detail. The only difference is it seemed this film was more understood and digested than the other film, for I've never seen merchandise glorifying Nino Brown like I have Tony Scarface.

New Jack City follows the gang known as the Cash Money Brothers, the dominant drug gang in New York City during the early days and succeeding years of the crack epidemic that ended lives, worsened poverty, and worked to cripple the lives of many affected by it, directly and indirectly. We follow notorious gang leader Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes), who has baffled police and detectives while captivating those around him with his cut-throat deals, lavish lifestyle, and his carefully-constructed empire off of the destruction of lives in the already struggling area of the New York City projects. Undercover detective Scotty Appleton (Ice T) finds himself learning more and more about Nino the deeper he invests himself in the city's drug scene but finds him increasingly difficult to track and discover. He spends most of his time concocting stings, one of them against Pookie (Chris Rock), a petty junkie victim to the harsh drug and the repercussions it brings.

Writers Thomas Lee Wright and Barry Michael Cooper dared explore the topic of the American crack epidemic when no one else was really speaking of it in film. Rap songs seemed to be the only way you could hear about it, as songs, which, from the beginning boasted brutal honesty and unfiltered truth, detailed the horrors that went along with use of the white killer. The fact that Wright and Cooper had the gall to attack this present but collectively ignored idea head-on deserves considerable praise in itself. The fact that it's directed with an admirable slickness, with a variety of different shot structures and techniques by its director, is another feat that is truly fit for praise.

Van Peebles actually conducts the film in a similar vein as many action, crime dramas of the 1990's did, through corniness, frequent action scenes, overarching political commentary, and quiet homages to other films. It's amazing because New Jack City isn't much different in style and structure to the films of its time period that were panned, while this film went on to rise above a lot of its predecessors and sister films thanks to its recognition of an enormous national problem. In addition, Van Peebles brings an equally subtle mix of blaxploitation style to his directorial approach to this material, centering a movie on a common urban problem and portraying it as it really was - often horrifying and crippling.

New Jack City, however, is far from perfect in any sense. There is a tonal unevenness, especially with the acting, which shows Snipes and Ice-T in cut-throat, serious mode one minute before cutting to Chris Rock's obnoxious Pookie character, who often comes off as ridiculous and goofy. While his character necessary, there is an undeniable sense of overacting to his performance as a junkie, which is a core character in the film as a whole. By making that character goofy and a product of overacting limits the amount of emotional leverage he can have, even if there is an attempt at a heartfelt scene about a quarter of the way through the film. With Rock's performance being frequently outlandish and distracting, we almost forget how great of an impact Snipes or Ice-T can have, especially Snipes, portraying an enigmatic drug dealer with a brash convincing way about him.

The tonal inconsistency is New Jack City's major problem, but its commonality makes it only more noteworthy than it already was, exploring a time period that wasn't talked about or portrayed in film until it became something that couldn't be ignored. Despite the glaring issue, there's a refreshing honesty with the film that, in itself, defines why the film has gained such a massive following over time and serves as one of the nineties best films in terms of depicting a culture and a serious national problem.

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Chris Rock, and Judd Nelson. Directed by: Mario Van Peebles.
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Great Gangster Film! That's Very Enjoyable And Often Powerful, With A Very Good Story And Outstanding Performances!
callanvass21 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great Gangster film! that's very enjoyable and often powerful with a very good story and outstanding performances!. All the characters are just great, and it's very well written and made as well, plus Wesley Snipes is simply incredible in this!. I didn't really know what to expect from this movie, as the reason i rented it was because Wesley Snipes is one of my favorites, and i was really quite surprised by how great it was!, plus Chris Rock is outstanding in his small but unforgettable role here. Ice-T really surprised me by giving a very good performance here, and the film has plenty of surprising and shocking moments as well!, plus The ending is especially shocking!. Its quite violent at times and I thought all the characters were very likable, plus Ice-T and Judd Nelosn had above average chemistry together. One of my favorite scenes in this movies is when Nino and his brother Gee Money confront one another on the bridge, and I thought the opening was quite bizarre, plus the character development was pretty good. This is a great gangster film! that's very enjoyable and often powerful, with a very good story and outstanding performances, I highly recommend this one!. The Direction is great!. Mario Van Peebles does a great! job here with very good camera work, cool angles and keeping the film at an engaging pace!. The Acting is outstanding!. Wesley Snipes is amazing as always, and is incredible here, his performance here rivals Al Pacino's performance in Scarface in my opinion, he was also extremely menacing, had some great lines, played a one cold heartless character, he was also very sneaky, and in my opinion Snipes does not get enough recognition for his incredible performance here, its almost Oscar worthy (in my opinion) (Snipes Rules!!!!!). Ice-T surprised me here by giving a very good performance, he was quite convincing, and blended in with the film well I really liked him, he also had decent chemistry with Judd Nelson. Allen Payne is great as Nino's brother, he did what he had to do very well, I also liked him. Chris Rock is outstanding here as Pookie, he had a small but very memorable role, and I was thinking to myself is this really Chris Rock?, he was that good!. Mario Van Peebles is OK here, but didn't have much to do and did his job adequately. Bill Nun is great as Duh Duh Duh Man, I have always liked this guy. Judd Nelson is inconsistent here sometimes he was good, sometimes he was terrible, and awfully wooden, he was OK i guess. Rest of the cast do fine. Overall I highly recommend this one!. ***1/2 out of 5
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