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Poetic Justice (1993)

R | | Drama, Romance | 23 July 1993 (USA)
0:27 | Trailer

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In this film, we see the world through the eyes of main character Justice, a young African-American poet. A mail carrier invites a few friends along for a long overnight delivery run.


John Singleton


John Singleton
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Khandi Alexander ... Simone
Maya Angelou ... Aunt June
Lloyd Avery II ... Thug #1
Ché J. Avery Ché J. Avery ... Thug #2
Kimberly Brooks ... Kim
Rico Bueno ... Ticket Taker
Maia Campbell Maia Campbell ... Shante
Jeff Cantrel Jeff Cantrel ... Policeman #4
Michael Colyar Michael Colyar ... Panhandler
Kina Cosper Kina Cosper ... Female Cousin (as Kina V. Cosper)
John Cothran ... Uncle Earl (as John Cothran Jr.)
Dina D. Dina D. ... Dina
Joe Dalu Joe Dalu ... Policeman #7
James Deeth James Deeth ... Helicopter Pilot
Norma Donaldson Norma Donaldson ... Aunt May


After witnessing the murder of her first and only boyfriend, young Justice decides to forget about college and become a South Central Los Angeles hairdresser. Avoiding friends, the only way for her to cope with her depression is by composing beautiful poetry. On her way to a convention in Oakland, she is forced to ride with an independent-minded postal worker whom she has not gotten along with in the past. After various arguments between them and their friends, they start to discover that their thoughts on violence, socially and domestically, are the same. Justice may finally feel that she is not as alone as before. Written by <poetic_robert@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Street Romance. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong language, and for violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

23 July 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fugir do Bairro See more »


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,728,455, 25 July 1993, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR | SDDS


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In one scene, Justice, played by Janet Jackson, is listening to the Stevie Wonder song "Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer". Sixteen years later, Wonder would perform that song at the memorial for Janet's brother, Michael Jackson. See more »


Justice: [as Iesha vomits on the side on the road after having drunk too much alcohol] Look at you.
Iesha: [dazed] What's up, J? What's the problem, girl?
Justice: [grabbing wine bottle out of Iesha's hand] *This* is the fucking *problem!*
[smashes bottle on the ground]
Justice: I'm *sick* of this shit! That's all you do. You act like some alcoholic bitch!
Iesha: Why are you calling me a bitch?
Justice: [grabbing Iesha tightly by the neck of her shirt] All you do is get drunk all the time. That's why I never go any place with you, because you're ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the Australian Free-to-Air vision. The Film had about 20mins cut out of it. Even though it was show at 11:50pm Jan 2001. Just about all swearing and fight sceens were taken out. See more »


Referenced in The Cleveland Show: The Men in Me (2012) See more »


I've Been Waiting
Written by Tara Geter, Terri Robinson and Kevin Deane
Produced by Kevin Deane
Performed by Terri & Monica
Courtesy of Epic Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Good try but scrappy, over use of swearing and a really badly miscast Jackson foil it
21 July 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Justice is in love, sadly in Compton things happen and her boyfriend Markell is killed at a drive in. Since then she has worn black and stayed away from men and just written her poems. However when she is taken on a road trip by her friend Iesha she finds she has been set up with her boyfriend's friend Lucky. At first the two don't get on but over the course of the trip the four fight, make up and learn.

Singleton was always going o have a hard time with that `difficult second film' but at least he had honourable intentions. This sees him step away from the easy ghetto flick and goes for something deeper. And it is a good try but it's deeply flawed. The overuse of swearing may be necessary and realistic but it is overdone here and spoils many scenes – he could have toned it down a bit and kept realism. Also the plot is very broken down – we have a trip that never seems to get dark but has too much in it for just one day surely? Also each stop is supposed to show us another aspect of `the black experience' other than the protagonists ghetto existence. However this doesn't work as it makes the film feel aimless and episodic.

The main failing is sadly, Janet Jackson. On one hand it's not her fault – the poems are those of a more mature woman (Angelou – who plays aunt June) and they don't fit with her. The clearest example of this is watching her stare into space, rubbing her chest as she `writes' `Phenomenal Woman'. But also she is really poor – she doesn't have the range to make the character believable and the rest of this falls as a result. Continuing the musical theme Tupac is a talent sadly missed. He shines here and, although the swearing etc isn't hard for him he does the more emotional stuff much, much better than Jackson. I can't sing his praises enough – for me he made this watchable when I was getting bored of it. Other musicians include Tone Loc and Q-Tip…..was this some sort of label push? Regina King is poor – her constant talking like a Jerry Springer guest etc is really tiresome and her `partner' Torry is just as bad – whose idea was it to have he constantly brushing his hair for no reason? Was it the only way we would get that he's vain?

I will give credit to Singleton for trying. I especially liked the way he brings the `black urban experience' into contrast with the white idea of cities in movies in the first 5 minutes. We open with shots of a lit up and pretty cityscape of LA with Gerswin-esque music playing a la Woody Allen's Manhattan. However this image of how Allen views his city is revealed to be a movie in a drive through in Compton – this, he's saying, is the black reality. A very clever start I thought (and props for Billy Zane and Lori Petty for agreeing to be in yet another bad movie – even if it's a fake one!)

Overall I wanted to like this as it was a brave step for Singleton. However the plot needed more work – and the whole ` black experience' stops could have been removed or toned down to just be `stops' without the agenda. However the casting of Jackson sounded time on this project – she really can't even get near the ability needed for this role – with a better actress, who knows?

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