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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Hype Williams|
|Produced by||Larry Meistrich
|Written by||Hype Williams|
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins
|Music by||Stephen Cullo|
|Cinematography||Malik Hassan Sayeed|
|Edited by||David Leonard|
Big Dog Films
|Distributed by||Artisan Entertainment|
|Running time||96 minutes|
|Box office||$9,639,390 (US and Canada)|
Belly is a 1998 American film, directed by music video director Hype Williams, in his film directing debut. Filmed in New York City as an urban drama, the film stars rappers DMX and Nas, alongside with Taral Hicks, Method Man, dancehall artist Louie Rankin and R&B singer T-Boz. Besides starring in the film, Nas also narrates and collaborated with Hype Williams on the film's script along with DMX (who, uncredited, also narrates the beginning and the end parts of the film).
The film begins with two young New York street criminals Tommy Bunds ("Bundy") (DMX) and Sincere ("Sin") (Nas), along with their associates in crime Mark and Black. The four violently rob a nightclub, murdering what is assumed to be the nightclub owner by shooting her out a window, as well as two presumed security guards and two other women.Escaping in a stolen car they cheer their success and talk about the woman they just killed. Black goes home while the rest retreat to Tommy's house. They celebrate the robbery and joke about how the woman in the nightclub splattered against the glass when they killed her. While watching television, they are interrupted by Tommy's girlfriend Keisha (Taral Hicks), who was awakened by the noise the group of men are making. Sincere soon leaves and is followed in gesture by the others. He returns home to his girlfriend Tionne (Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins) and infant daughter Kenya. Meanwhile, Tommy is informed of a new form of heroin which he takes as a lucrative business opportunity.
Tommy subsequently meets with Sincere to discuss the venture. His rhetoric is met with resistance from the more intellectually inclined Sincere, who has become enlightened to the plight of urban poor and seeks a life free of crime. After Tommy ridicules Sincere for his sentiments and mentions his connection with a Jamaican drug lord "Ox" residing in New York City, Sincere reluctantly agrees. Tommy then visits Ox in his lavish mansion, to plead for Ox's assistance in obtaining the heroin. Ox agrees on the grounds that Tommy repays him via a huge favor at a later date.
At Mark's grandmother's basement, the group convenes to discuss the imminent flux of business. Sin explains by voice-over narration that one of Tommy's associates, known simply as "Knowledge", is to be involved in the operation. Meanwhile, Sincere confronts Black concerning the division of the money from the robbery the night before. Black believes he should receive as much of the share as Sincere, and when he continues to express his thoughts with a few minor insults, Tommy becomes incredibly enraged. He pushes Black to the floor and forces him to strip naked in front of everyone while firing a handgun wildly into the floor. Tommy then orders Black to sit on the couch, as he visibly harbors hostile feelings towards the rest of the men.
The duo, along with some of their friends from the neighborhood, including Knowledge and Mark, start transporting drugs (hidden in their car bumpers) from Queens to Omaha, and begin to overrun the drug business there. This is met with jealousy from a local drug dealer named Big Head Rico (Tyrin Turner), who informs the police of their activities. This results in a raid at their stash-house, which quickly results in a shootout between Mark and police officers. In a subsequent car chase, Mark loses consciousness and presumably dies while Knowledge is arrested. Knowledge calls back home from the local jail and is told by Keisha that Tommy isn't there, nor should he have called home since the FBI had placed wire taps on their phone. Knowledge gets angry that Tommy won't come to bail him out, and calls up Shameek aka Father Sha (Method Man), to not only infiltrate Rico's gang, but to handle Tommy. While at a strip club in Omaha, Shameek confronts Rico and informs him that Knowledge sent him here to kill him and his associates. When Rico tries to run from Shameek, Shameek shoots and kills Rico as well as some members of his crew. While reloading his guns, Shameek is hit by the bartender with a shotgun. Stubling out the club, he manages to escape from the cops with a gunshot wound.
Meanwhile, Tommy goes to Jamaica with Ox, and repays him for providing the heroin by killing Sosa, the son of a drug lord there, at a stoplight while dressed as a homeless man. Meanwhile back in Tommy's house, Keisha is arrested by police and later bailed out by Tionne, with Tommy finding about the raid and quickly escapes. Later when the deceased's family and friends finds out that it was Ox who ordered the hit, Pelpa, the gang's leader and close friend of Sosa, sends a hit squad to kill him in his home, and Ox is able to kill them all before a femme fatale named Chiquita drops down from his top floor stairwell and slits his throat.
A subplot involves Tommy's ongoing affair with 17 year old Kionna. After both women shared words with each other (where Kionna taunts Keisha with Tommy's infidelities), it becomes clear that Tommy is not willing to give either of them up and hooks up with Kionna secretly while living with Keisha.
While these events occur, Sincere prepares to leave the drug game and move his girlfriend and child to Africa, despite Tommy's jokes that he was getting soft for wanting to leave. They make plans to leave on New Years, 2000. However, Sincere is now suspicious of Tommy since the Omaha incident. Tommy, meanwhile, has been on the run and is apprehended by police in Atlanta, GA, along with two young dealers from the neighborhood, Wise and LaKid, selling marijuana. One night at dinner, Tommy instigates an argument between Wise and LaKid, in which ends with both men to drawing their guns and LaKid shooting Wise dead. Tommy, who is extremely intoxicated, remains seated, calmly glancing at Wise's dead body as the police arrive to arrest him and is, inexplicably, later released. It is later revealed that Tommy was chosen by federal agents to assassinate a black Muslim leader, Rev. Saviour, (Dr. Benjamin Chavis) who had been preaching against the government on New Year's Eve.
Later, Sincere stops by a local housing project and talks with his pre-teen friend, a drug dealer Shorty about what is going on lately and after advising him to get out of drug dealing, parts from the youth, giving him an expensive chain as a gift. Tionne later comes home from shopping only to find Shameek and a few other men waiting for her inside and is confronted concerning the whereabouts of Sincere and Tommy. After a tense standoff with pistols, the men leave. Later while talking to a friend (AZ) outside a barbershop, Black and an accomplice confront Sincere and shoots him in the leg, causing Sincere to shoot both Black and his accomplice dead in self-defense and flee the scene.
On New Years' Eve, Tommy confronts the leader in his study before he was to make a massive speech of hope and points his gun at him. The leader convinces Tommy not to go through with his mission, even though it was betraying the government and now putting his life at risk. Tommy, in tears, agrees, and the two men embrace.
Shameek visits Keisha's home, in the hopes of finding Tommy there. He physically assaults Keisha, and after a struggle, is killed by her after she strikes him with an ashtray and grabs his gun.
Sincere, now on board a plane bound for Africa along with Tionne and their child, reflects on recent events as he and his family leave New York.
- Nas – Sincere
- DMX – Tommy "Buns" Bundy
- Taral Hicks – Keisha
- Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins – Tionne
- Method Man – Shameek aka Father Sha
- Tyrin Turner – Big Head Rico
- Hassan Johnson – Mark
- Oliver "Power" Grant – Knowledge
- Louie Rankin – Lennox
- Stan Drayton – Wise
- James Parris – LaKid
- Sean Paul – Himself
- Lavita “Vita” Raynor – Kionna
- Ghostface Killah- cameo appearance
The film was poorly received by critics, scoring 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although it was generally praised for its highly stylized "noir-like" visual design and cinematography, it was criticized for what was seen as a weak plot.
In 2006, DMX mentioned that a sequel is in the works called Beast. However, a film called Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club has already been released, starring rapper The Game. Lion's Gate Entertainment gave the Game's version of the film the "Belly 2" prefix, from a marketing standpoint, to attract a broader hip-hop audience, but the films are in no way related.
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||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2010)|
- ^ LaSalle, Mick (Nov. 4, 1998). "A Clumsy Film Debut, Williams' `Belly' Flops". San Francisco Chronicle.
- ^ Richberg, Chris and Williams, Houston (Jun. 12, 2006). "DMX Talks 'Beast' Sequel to 'Belly'. AllHipHop.com: Daily Hip-Hop News.