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Death and violence anger a twelve-year-old drug courier, who sets his employers against each other.

Director:

Boaz Yakin

Writer:

Boaz Yakin
4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Nelson ... Fresh
Giancarlo Esposito ... Esteban
Samuel L. Jackson ... Sam
N'Bushe Wright ... Nichole
Ron Brice Ron Brice ... Corky
Jean-Claude La Marre Jean-Claude La Marre ... Jake (as Jean LaMarre)
José Zúñiga ... Lt. Perez
Luis Lantigua Luis Lantigua ... Chuckie
Yul Vazquez ... Chillie
Cheryl Freeman ... Aunt Frances
Anthony Thomas Anthony Thomas ... Red
Curtis McClarin Curtis McClarin ... Darryl (as Curtis L. McClarin)
Charles Malik Whitfield ... Smokey
Víctor González Víctor González ... Herbie
Guillermo Díaz ... Spike
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Storyline

Fresh (Sean Nelson) is a 12-year-old drug dealer who finds himself trapped in a web of poverty, corruption and racial tension in Brooklyn, New York. When his drug-addict sister Nichole (N'Bushe Wright) starts sleeping with local drug lord Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito), Fresh calls upon the skills he learned playing chess with his alcoholic father and speed-chess champion Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) and devises a complex strategy that will free both himself and his sister. Written by heem857

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In a world where criminals make the rules an innocent boy is out to beat them at their own game. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for intense, realistic depiction of urban violence, and for drug content, pervasive language, and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 September 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kint az utcán See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,094,616
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lumière Pictures,Miramax See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Fresh comes over to his dad's (Sam's) trailer, Sam (Samuel L. Jackson), who's a drunk ,a chess hustler, and down in the dumps, tells Fresh (Sean Nelson) "Welcome to the Taj Mahal". Samuel L. Jackson used that, as a parody to his role as a homeless crackhead, in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever (1991), where Westley Snipe's character searches for Sam Jackson's "Gator" in a crackhouse. When Westley, who played Flipper, finally finds Gator, hears the same comment about the Taj Mahal. See more »

Goofs

In the final scene at the park, the same blonde girl walks behind Fresh twice (the first time just as he makes it to the chess table, then again once he has sat down; by then the girl, walking at an uninterrupted pace, should've been out of the shot). See more »

Quotes

Jake: [to Red, about some guy who owes him 50 dollars] I'ma grease that motherfucker like Sunday bacon, you hear me motherfucker? I'ma go drop that motherfucker! I'ma *drop* him, man! I'ma go *drop* him!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Violence and the Censors (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Jesus Children of America
Written by Stevie Wonder
Published by Black Bull Music/Jobete Music Co.
Performed by Johnny Gill
Produced by Chuckii Booker for Big Dog Productions
Courtesy of Motown Records
See more »

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User Reviews

A movie to make your jaw drop open
4 August 1999 | by Jaime N. ChristleySee all my reviews

Now I have witnessed the third truly great film to have come out of America in 1994. One that can hold its own, and more, against such films released that year as "Pulp Fiction," "Natural Born Killers," and "Vanya on 42nd Street." It's called "Fresh," and I'll go out on a limb to say it's as powerful an urban drama as any other I've seen in my life.

There are no fancy cinematic magic tricks going on in this film, aside from an instance of superimposed images that is so simple it almost seems like a throwback to old silent dramas. There are no choreographed gun fights, no switching film stocks to produce psychedelic effects, nothing like that. Not to say that these things cannot be used appropriately and judiciously to enhance the effect of a particular film, but "Fresh" is stripped bare, and must depend on its performances, direction, and writing alone.

For starters, a young Sean Nelson delivers a performance that puts the lion's share of veteran actors to shame. He's completely lacking in self-consciousness, almost like he's unaware that the camera is on him for nine out of ten of the shots in "Fresh." His character, for which the film takes its title, may be the smartest youth in motion picture history for whom genius is not a gimmick or a joke (i.e. "Good Will Hunting," "Real Genius," stuff like that). Watching him, you see a wise old actor in a teen's body; he does not "act" any emotions or thoughts, but merely feels them and thinks them. He seems to embody bits of screen legend: a little Bogart stalwartness there, some of Jimmy Stewart's quiet charm here, and most of all Morgan Freeman's ability to communicate much while doing or saying very little.

That'd be just enough for most movies, but Nelson is backed by a choice supporting cast: the two most recognizable names are obviously Samuel L. Jackson (Fresh's chessmaster/alcoholic father) and Giancarlo Esposito (the slimy, high-living drug dealer Esteban), and both are perfect in award-caliber performances. Two lesser known actors, N'Bushe Wright (Fresh's junkie sister Nichole) and Jean LaMare (as Jake, the hot tempered low-man-on-the-totem-pole employee of Corky) are also terrific in key roles.

The screenplay, by director Boaz Yakin, is doggedly unpredictable, but in retrospect it all makes perfect sense -- nothing in the movie pushes the bounds of credibility. I've seen truckloads of thrillers, most of them are wearily proficient at making you guess what's next. None but a few, however, kept me guessing WHEN to guess, or surprised me with such affecting emotional developments. None but a few moved along with such self-assured grace and style. "Fresh" knows its territory, the time and place it's set in, and it provides characters who talk like they do in real life -- not ones that sound like they're in a movie where they talk like they do in real life.

The use of violence is admirably restrained. Most of it takes place off camera, silhouetted, or cut away from quickly. The two scenes of bloodletting, when they are shown to us, are literally heartbreaking. Not only does "Fresh" keep us off guard on a psychological level, but on an emotional one as well, something few films ever think of doing.

If I were to offer one criticism, it would be that the chess metaphor was pressed just a bit too hard by Yakin (though the final scene is devastating): we already know that this kid is thinking like a master strategist, we don't need quite so many shots of him playing the game in his room. That's a small quibble, though, because the chess metaphor is entirely appropriate, and Jackson's early speech about the game is an ingenious device.


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