Hey kids, it’s Dash Jordan. I’m in a good mood today, you know that? Well, I don’t know if you heard the news…but there is this one particular movie I’ve not seen in awhile, and I’ve decided to give it another look today since today marks the 25th anniversary. So, how does it hold up? Am I this film’s reviewer? Am I this film’s reviewer?!?
Yes, I am!
‘New Jack City’ is a 1991 urban-crime thriller directed by Mario Van Peeples(who also co-stars) and is actually one of the first few films to released during that boom period of African-American cinema from the 1990s; which I like to call “The Bronze Age of Blaxploitation”. The film takes during the Crack Epidemic of the mid-80s and early 90s as a group of renegade cops go undercover to stop a ruthless drug dealer and his rising criminal empire. With a budget of $8 Million, ‘New Jack City’ managed to earn over $47 Million domestically; making it the highest-grossing independent film of 1991. Twenty-five years after the movie’s release, is ‘New Jack City’ still as potent and relevant as it was back in 1991, or has the film’s message run out of steam faster than Wesley Snipes’ battle with the IRS?
All joking aside, I’m a huge fan of Wesley Snipes. He’s a talented actor, producer & martial artist who can easily go from action, to drama, to comedy and back again. Arguably, Snipes gives one of his best performances as the film’s antagonist, Nino Brown. Obviously taking a few cues from Al Pacino’s Tony Montana, not only does Snipes manage to portray Nino Brown as ruthless, serious, vulnerable, funny and arrogant all in one fell swoop, but is also having fun in the role.
‘New Jack City’ really has no bad performances. In fact, every actor in this movie were great; Including Mario Van Peeples, Judd Nelson & Ice-T.
But by far, the best performance in the entire movie has to be Chris Rock’s tragic and relatable portrayal as Pookie; a crack addict turned police informant.
Obviously, it’s hard nowadays to see Chris Rock doing anything serious as he’s mostly known for his stand-up career and comedic roles. But trust me, this performance may bring some of you to tears or chills. Crack Cocaine is still a very real problem we face, but you have to understand it was so much more prominent in the 90s and Chris Rock’s performance was the wake-up call. Of course, Chris Rock is a naturally funny guy who may make you laugh a few times in this movie, and his role isn’t very long. However, Rock truly shines in his painful and sympathetic depiction of drug addiction. Why Chris Rock was never nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor is beyond me.
I feel as though I should warn everyone right now. Not about the graphic depictions of drug abuse, I think that’s pretty much a given. I’m in fact, referring to the style of the film…I’m warning you, it’s very, very 90s. Some of you(like me) may like this and feel that it doesn’t make the film feel dated in the slightest, especially when you reconsider the film’s subject matter. However, some of you may be turned off by this decade, its look and its music. You’ve been warned…
As far as the film’s content, I think it still holds up. There’s plenty of action in the film that is still entertaining. However, I will warn my viewers who may be sensitive with all of the drug use and drug references. Many films have tried to be anti-drug and some have failed. ‘New Jack City’ is one of those films that has actually stood the test of time, especially since the war against drugs is still a thing is this country. If it wasn’t for the language and nudity, I would actually recommend showing this movie in schools. Just be warned, as the film may hit too close to home for some viewers.
Director/actor Mario Van Peeples, and the rest of the cast & crew have every right to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ‘New Jack City’. Great acting, good action, memorable characters, a poignant message and a catchy 90s soundtrack. Once again, I must warn any viewers who are overly sensitive towards violence and drug use. Other than that, I highly recommend checking out this movie. Don’t forget, kids…don’t do drugs.
Not now, Dave! Until next time, Gotta Dash!
Written by Shane Moose
New Jack City(owned by Warner Bros.)
The Expendables 3(owned by Lionsgate, Millennium Films & Nu Image)
Chappelle’s Show(owned by MGM Television, Comedy Partners & Pilot Boy Productions)
A special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!