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New Jack City (1991)

tomatometer

78

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

81

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 44,817

My Rating

Movie Info

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

R,

Drama, Action & Adventure

Aug 25, 1998

Warner Home Video

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (7) | DVD (16)

Though this often plays like a 70s cop show, it became a prototype for the bling-heavy gangsta melodramas of the 90s.

October 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

October 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

August 5, 2005 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mario Van Peebles's drugland feature, a relentless, hold-on-to-your-hat experience, rarely lets up.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

OK Van Peebles flick featuring Snipes.

February 23, 2008
Video-Reviewmaster.com

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.

October 30, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

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.

September 16, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Violent and very engaging.

January 18, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

...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.

August 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

It's basically Scarface with a hip-hop mentality, but it's also a slickly entertaining and consistently engaging crime thriller.

August 5, 2005 Full Review Source: DVDTalk.com
DVDTalk.com

Boasts some of the best performances of the early 90's...Ice T is a revelation

July 11, 2003
Moviehole

It's still entertaining, but New Jack City now feels about as edgy as an old razor. And it's just as disposable.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

One gets the feeling that a lot of the meaning of this film ended up on the cutting room floor.

March 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

LA in the early 90s - heady stuff in this fairly accurrate representation.

February 10, 2003
Sunday Times (Australia)

The filmmakers pull out the stops to get their message across.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

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.
April 17, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

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.
October 30, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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".
December 31, 2010
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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.
May 23, 2010
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

    1. Officer Nick Peretti: Behind Door No. 1, your head explodes like a melon!
    2. Scotty Appleton: Behind door No. 2, you hook us up with Gee Money and get the prize, Nino Brown.
    – Submitted by David E (6 months ago)
    1. 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?
    2. Officer Nick Peretti: I'm ahead of you.
    – Submitted by David E (6 months ago)
    1. Pookie: Scottie, help me - I'm gonna die!
    – Submitted by David E (6 months ago)
    1. Old Man: Idolater! Your soul is required in hell!
    – Submitted by David E (6 months ago)
    1. Officer Nick Peretti: Drugs ain't a black thing, or a white thing. It's a death thing. Death don't give a shit about color.
    – Submitted by David E (6 months ago)
    1. Scotty Appleton: I wanna shoot you so bad, my dick's hard!
    – Submitted by David E (6 months ago)
View all quotes (10)

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