DAR Classic Films: New Jack City

Intro By @TrueGodImmortal
-Is it really bigger than Nino Brown? I'm not so sure. There are some films that truly captivate us as viewers and stick with us for such a long time. New Jack City was one of those films. The starring role for Wesley Snipes as Nino Brown, a fictional infamous drug lord, changed his life and career forever. The cold hearted, aggressive nature of the CMB crew, the quotes throughout the movie ("Cancel That Bitch", "I Never Liked You Anyway... Pretty Muthafucka", "Sit Your 5 Dollar Ass Down Before I Make Change", etc), everything about it felt iconic. It was epic. Today, we reflect back on a movie that captivated us all and 25 years later is still influential.

I love when hip hop and movies come together, I like even more when we can see a clear correlation. That’s what happened with New Jack City, but I'll get to that part in a second though. Released in 1991, it did much better than ever anticipated. I think it has everything to do with the story of course, but more importantly the cast. Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Chris Rock, Vanessa Williams, Allen Payne, and so much more. They all each executed their roles so well, they brought the story to life and created realism and entertainment that earned this movie 47.5M in box office sales. That may not seem like a lot, but the movie budget was 8M, so that's quite a success, and even more so at the time!

Now, why did a "low budget" film do so well? Because we love crime thrillers, especially one that is essentially inspired by "Scarface", which we see when Nino is actually watching Scarface and pointing out what he would do differently. Brilliant, I like that the writer/director used a classic flick to magnify and highlight the intended story in his own movie. That inadvertently makes the viewer see the correlations between the two and almost make it like a mirror. Very clever.

It didn't stop there, as "New Jack City" did its own influencing (and this is where the Hiphop correlation comes in!) after the release. If you remember this movie, the whole story is based around the "Cash Money Brothers", which inspired the concept of Cash Money Records as they evolved in the 90's. This label was created by two brothers and this movie was released before Cash Money really got moving. I think it's safe to say New Jack made its own legacy with that as it is believed to be a direct influence in the creation of the music label. That's impressive, I don't think that's happened before and if it has, it certainly hasn't been THIS obvious.

Other things I like about this joint would have to be Ice-T. Of course, I like the Hip hop representation on the cast, but I also think he was a fantastic choice for the role. A street cop willing to infiltrate a drug ring was a different role for him. As much as I'm sure Ice-T would never side with cops, he was believable and I like that. The scene when he shoots up Nino's house is epic and plays to his own personality as well as that of his character. He was definitely the highlight for me!

This movie has everything, it's packed with action, guns, drugs, girls, Wesley Snipes....basically everything to make this a must see for the fellas and the ladies. It didn't disappoint and earned praise from critics! New Jack City was incredible in the '90's and still is. It's one of those movies that will forever entertain.. truly a timeless classic!

I'll go ahead and get it out the way. Without New Jack City, you probably wouldn't have Ice-T fulfilling the "Older Sage" role on Law and Order: SVU and people probably wouldn't have given Chris Rock the time of day outside of, like, Wayans Brothers films. While that's not really a bad thing, the characters of Scotty and Pookie helped make this film.

But, it ain't all about them. The movie itself did something that many kingpin movies hadn't to this point. It featured minorities on both sides of the law and provided a pseudo-inside look into the crack game of the 80s and 90s. And like Scarface, we all knew what Nino was doing was wrong. However, there was still a slight element of "damn, look at him continue to cheat the system" at play.

Eventually, though, the allure of the game begins to wear off. The gang collapses. Shit gets real crazy, real quick. And when it does, we're left with an intriguing cops and robbers game (literally, of course) between the CMB and Scotty's team. Oh my GOD! The ending of this flick is, for me, pretty iconic. The whole thing is a mix of truth and beauty. If you haven't seen it, do so. Now. I know I say that a lot. But, I mean it.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-My first time seeing this film, I was far too young to really appreciate it. When I finally got a chance to watch it in my adult life, I loved it even more. We rooted for the villain in Nino Brown, while silently wishing he'd meet his demise. We wanted to see Gee Money beat his demons, and yet we somehow wanted to see Scotty get his revenge as well. It's a tale of deceit, betrayal, and high stakes drug business all in one. The element of family in the drug game and the streets in general can be flimsy. It's a dog eat dog world and when it's all about the money, the brothers and the family will change. That's essentially how family does anyway. New Jack City is a reflection of the time in the early 90's when crack was firmly in our hoods after the 80's epidemic. It represents something much bigger than just a film, it's a PSA for the neighborhoods we grew up in. So, was it bigger than Nino Brown after all? Yes, much bigger. However, the fictional legend of Nino Brown lives on forever in this film.



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