| Original Score: C-
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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.
| Original Score: 4/5
Mario Van Peebles's drugland feature, a relentless, hold-on-to-your-hat experience, rarely lets up.
Van Peebles wanted to tell this story; his heart is in it, and it's got a killer beat.