Arriving the same year as John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood and Matty Rich's Straight out of Brooklyn, this 1991 drug thriller was heralded as part of a new vanguard in urban black cinema, though of the three it's by far the least authentic. Wesley Snipes has a career-making role as Nino Brown, a supercool dealer introducing New York City to crack cocaine; Ice-T is the moody cop out to get him. Mario Van Peebles--whose father, Melvin, helped pioneer blaxploitation cinema with Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)--makes his feature directing debut, and though this often plays like a 70s cop show, it became a prototype for the bling-heavy gangsta melodramas of the 90s. The great supporting cast includes Chris Rock, Bill Nunn, and Bill Cobbs. R, 97 min.
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