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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|
|Editing by||David Leonard|
|Studio||Big Dog Films|
|Distributed by||Artisan Entertainment|
|Running time||96 minutes|
|Box office||$9,639,390 (US and Canada)|
Belly is a 1998 film, the film directorial debut of music video director Hype Williams. 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 screenplay.
The movie begins when Tommy (DMX) and Sincere (Nas), along with fellow crew members Mark and Black, rob a nightclub. After dropping Black off, the others go to Tommy's house to hide out for a while. Their noise wakes up Keisha (Taral Hicks), Tommy's girlfriend, who is trying to sleep. Sincere says that he too is tired, and he and Mark leave soon after. Sincere returns to his house, where his wife Tionne (Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins) and baby Kenya wait. Back at Tommy's house, Tommy learns of a new, potent form of heroin that is making its way to America.
After a passionate night with their women, Tommy and Sincere meet early in the morning and Tommy tells Sincere about the new drug, and also how much money they could make if they got involved with Tommy's friend Ox, a drug lord who is receiving shipments. Reluctantly, Sincere agrees. At Mark's grandmother's basement, Tommy talks to an associate, Knowledge, over the phone while Sincere confronts Black about the money and being disrespectful. Black is beaten up and pistol whipped by Tommy, who then forces Black to strip naked in front of everyone while firing at least 3 shots to the ground. Black sits on the couch crying.
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 take over the drug scene 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, in which Mark is critically injured and Knowledge getting 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 and to kill Rico, but to handle Tommy. While at a strip club in Omaha, Shameek confronts Rico and informs him that Knowledge sent him here to check him and others. When Rico tries to run, Shameek shoots and kills Rico as well as some members of his crew. While reloading his guns, the bartender shoots Sha with a shotgun out the club and Shameek manages to escape from the cops with injury.
Meanwhile, Tommy goes to Jamaica with Ox, and kills Sosa, the son of a drug lord there, at a stoplight while dressed as a homeless man, as a favor to Ox. Meanwhile back in Tommy's house, Keisha is arrested by police and later bailed out by Tionne. Later when the deceased's family and friends finds out that is 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 swoops down from his top floor and slits his throat.
While this is going on, Sincere has been trying to get out of 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, now Sincere is suspicious of Tommy; since the Omaha incident, Tommy has been on the run and was caught in Atlanta, GA, along with two young dealers from the neighborhood, Wise and LaKid, selling weed. One night at dinner, Tommy instigates an argument between Wise and LaKid, in which causes both men to draw out their guns and LaKid shoots Wise dead. Tommy, who is too drunk and high, gets arrested and later released. Sincere feels that Tommy would give him up to save himself. This was not the case. 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 on, Sincere talks with his friend, Shorty about what is going on lately and getting out the drug game. Tionne later comes home from shopping only to find Shameek and a few other men waiting for her inside and when he asks for Sincere and Tommy, Tionne draws out her gun while they draw out theirs, but decide to spare her life and leave. Later while talking to a friend (AZ) outside a barbershop, Black and an accomplice confront Sincere and shoots him in the leg, which causes Sincere to shoot both Black and his accomplice dead and takes off.
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.
At the same time, Shameek visits Keisha's home, in the hopes of finding Tommy there. Shameek slaps Keisha around, but Keisha is able to grab his gun right before he was going to kill her, turning the gun on him instead of her.
Sincere, having known everything that was going on, and surviving an attempt on his life too by his old friend Black, takes that moment to get out of New York as his family starts life over in Africa. JK
- Nas - Sincere
- DMX - Tommy "Buns" Bundy
- Taral Hicks - Keisha
- Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins - Tionne
- Method Man - Shameek aka Father Sha
- Malachi Woods
- Tyrin Turner - Big Head Rico
- Hassan Johnson - Mark
- Oliver "Power" Grant - Knowledge
- Louie Rankin - Lennox
- Stan Drayton - Wise
- James Parris - LaKid
- Sean Paul - Himself
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. However, it remains much more popular with hip hop audiences, and also with dancehall reggae fans due to cameos by Jamaican entertainment personalities Mr Vegas, Sean Paul, Skyjuice, Bogle and Louie Rankin playing the part of Ox. It was re-released on DVD in November 2003 in a black package. The scene in which the Jamaican drug lord's house is raided is heavily influenced by the 1983 film, Scarface.
Possible sequel 
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.