New Jack City (1991)
The ruthless leader of a New York City drug syndicate battles to maintain his power and avoid imprisonment in this fast-moving action drama. While the film's heroes are Scotty (Ice-T) and Nick (Judd Nelson), a pair of tough, streetwise cops, the main focus is their target, drug lord Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes). A criminal businessman with no room for pity or emotion, the flashy but severe Brown has built an empire and transformed an abandoned Harlem apartment building into a well-defended fortress. He begins to consider himself invincible, but his lust for power and the unpredictable actions of a former client turned police informer threaten to bring about his potential downfall. First-time director Mario Van Peebles keeps the traditional plot moving at an appropriately rapid pace, with stylish action sequences and energetic performances. The film's violence was somewhat controversial on its initial release, especially after shooting incidents marred showings in several theaters. However, the film's moral message is clearly anti-drug and anti-crime, its main intent to provide a high-powered, modern take on the gangster movie. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for New Jack City
Though this often plays like a 70s cop show, it became a prototype for the bling-heavy gangsta melodramas of the 90s.
Filmmakers pull off a provocative, pulsating update on gangster pics with this action-laden epic about the rise and fall of an inner city crack dealer.
It's a superior example of what used to be called blaxploitation, with Van Peebles piling on corruption and carnage for all he's worth.
The movie was advertised (no doubt wisely) as a slam-bang action adventure, but in fact it's a serious, smart film with an impact that lingers after the lights go up.
The film's use of once-imposing, now-crumbling New York architecture is particularly effective in underscoring the story with an air of widespread urban decay.
Mario Van Peebles's drugland feature, a relentless, hold-on-to-your-hat experience, rarely lets up.
OK Van Peebles flick featuring Snipes.
We all know New Jack City is making the right statement on drugs, racism, the system, etc. But the fact is it's not very good.
A cynical director, Van Peebles has style to burn, but his work is too flashy to make sense. This is a gangster-thriller about crack trade in Hralem done as a moralistic melodrama with kinky violence.
...a purely conventional story, but it unfolds in unique and innovative ways, with particularly good turns from its cast, all of which make it a worthwhile watch.
It's basically Scarface with a hip-hop mentality, but it's also a slickly entertaining and consistently engaging crime thriller.
Boasts some of the best performances of the early 90's...Ice T is a revelation
It's still entertaining, but New Jack City now feels about as edgy as an old razor. And it's just as disposable.
One gets the feeling that a lot of the meaning of this film ended up on the cutting room floor.
LA in the early 90s - heady stuff in this fairly accurrate representation.
Audience Reviews for New Jack City
I think Mario Van Peebles wanted New Jack City to be the black version of Scarface but unfortunately for him, it wasn't. For starters, the acting wasn't very good, especially considering the sizable and talented cast. The fact that Scarface is on the TV constantly doesn't help either. I can see where he was coming from though and I did like his idea of the next wave Blaxploitation film, he does it much better a few years later in Posse but not so well here. I love the era though and I love the music so I have a soft spot for it but it really isn't that great.More
Given the drug-based cop drama/urban crime plot, the interracial partnership of the main cops, and the soundtrack being made up of contemporary urban (black) music, you could be forgiven for confusing this film with being a blaxploitation film. I mean, it IS directed by Mario Van Peebles, and there are some references to films from that genre, but surprisingly, it is not. Mostly because it's played straight, with only some humor, and no camp factor. It is definitely a b-movie, but a competently made high end one.
Okay, so the main plot is pretty standard, with two mismatched cops having to team up to take down a powerful drug lord who has taken the streets prisoner with his ultra strong crack. It's still an enjoyable ride though, and it's quite stylish, with some actually pretty decent performances.
Okay, so Judd Nelson is underused, but he's good when he's there. Wesley Snipes is fine, but I feel like he's just doing a VERY low-key and subtle take on Tony Montana. The stand outs are Ice-T who, still very much known for his anti-cop songs is great as a tough streetwise cop, and really gets his acting career off to a great start, though after this it wouldn't pick up again until he portrayed another cop on Law and Order: SVU. The other top prize goes to the outstanding Chris Rock, who gives an utterly memorable and gripping turn as an ill-fated ex-junkie turned informer.
This is overall a really decent flick. It's ultimately nothing new, but very well played, and far better (both as a directorial debut and in general) than it could have been, so give it a shot.
A team of maverick cops investigate when a gangster takes over an entire tenement block in the New York ghetto. Although this film enjoys a good reputation as a hard-hitting, socially conscious representation of life in "the hood", it is actually EXACTLY the kind of testosterone-soaked, cliched crap that Mario Van Peebles has made his bread and butter ever since. Tacking on montages of drug use and a couple of lines about the "drug problem" at the end does NOT a social documentary make. It's really just the same old straight to DVD standard Van Damme/Seagal level tripe with a blaxploitation spin, and features some of the kinds of fashions that have been forgotten with good reason. Not to mention a soundtrack that ignores the era in which some of the best hip hop was made, instead littering it with the kind of "R'N'B" warbling that is the worst thing to EVER happen to popular music. The direction is beyond amateurish, script cliche-riddled and dumb and performances vary between laughable stereotypes and just plain awful (Chris Rock is truly dire and the Pookie-on-the-pipe montage is one of the most laughable attempts at manipulation I've ever seen). Try King Of New York or Dead Presidents instead, because this is just substandard junk trying to make a few bucks out of showing black people kill each other and pretending it's "important".More
Really one of the best modern gangster movies and definitely the most violent and all out crazy only next to Scarface. This is so different from the average Italian Mobster type of movie and it's really refreshing in that sense. However, it does have all the shootings and drugs that are such a staple of the crime genre so you aren't cheated out of that. It's got a great cast led by the unstoppable Wesley Snipes and no nonsense Ice-T. I think this is the most accurate and timely gangster movie of the nineties, which means a lot being released around the same time as Goodfellas, Godfather Pt. III and Casino.More
New Jack City Quotes
- Officer Nick Peretti:
- Behind Door No. 1, your head explodes like a melon!
- Scotty Appleton:
- Behind door No. 2, you hook us up with Gee Money and get the prize, Nino Brown.
- Scotty Appleton:
- You know, a drug dealer is the worst kind of brother. He won't sell it to his sister, he won't sell it to his mother. But he'll sell it to one of his boys in the street. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to kill Nino Brown. Are you with me?
- Officer Nick Peretti:
- I'm ahead of you.
- Scottie, help me - I'm gonna die!
- Old Man:
- Idolater! Your soul is required in hell!
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