Juice (film)

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Juice Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Produced by David Heyman
Gerard Brown
James Bigwood
Neal H. Moritz
Peter Frankfurt
Preston L. Holmes
Ralph McDaniels
Written by Ernest R. Dickerson
Gerard Brown
Starring Omar Epps
Tupac Shakur
Jermaine "Huggy" Hopkins
Khalil Kain
Samuel L. Jackson
Cindy Herron
Queen Latifah
Vincent Laresca
Music by Gary G-Wiz
Cinematography Larry Banks
Edited by Brunilda Torres
Sam Pollard
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
January 17, 1992 (U.S.)
August 28, 1992 (U.K.)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,000,000[1]
Box office $20,146,880[2]

Juice is a 1992 American crime drama thriller directed by Ernest R. Dickerson, written by Ernest R. Dickerson and Gerard Brown. It stars rapper Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps. Additional cast members include Jermaine "Huggy" Hopkins, Khalil Kain, and Samuel L. Jackson; the film features cameo appearances by Queen Latifah, EPMD, Special Ed, Ed Lover, Doctor Dré, Flex Alexander, Fab Five Freddy, Yo-Yo, Donald Faison and Treach. The film was directed by cinematographer and longtime Spike Lee collaborator Ernest R. Dickerson who has directed and written other Hollywood films such as Surviving the Game and Bulletproof as well as some television series such as ER and The Wire.

The film touches on the lives of four youths growing up in Harlem. It follows the day-to-day activities in the young men's lives starting out as innocent mischief but growing more serious as time passes by. It also focuses on the struggles that these young men must go through everyday as well such as police harassment, rival neighborhood gangs and their families.[3]

The film was shot on location in New York City mainly in the Harlem area in 1991.[4]


Bishop (Shakur), Q (Epps), Raheem (Kain) and Steel (Hopkins), who refer to themselves as "The wrecking Crew," are four friends growing up in Harlem. They regularly skip school, instead spending their days hanging out at Steel's apartment, a neighborhood arcade, and also a record store where they steal LPs for Q's local DJ interests. Generally, they are harassed daily by the police or a Puerto Rican gang led by a gangster named Radames. After witnessing a robbery at the local bar, an aggravated Bishop becomes enthralled at the "juice" and the audacity of a life of crime. He boasts on, about tiring of the harassment by police, gangs, and a local bodega owner. He decides that they must create a plan to win respect. Q, however, is unsure if he wants to become involved in a life of crime, stating respect is earned. One Saturday night, under Bishop's persistence, the friends decide to rob the bodega to teach the owner, Fernando Quiles, a lesson. Q is hesitant to go through with the crime, unsure whether it will be a success; he also fears it will affect his chances of participating in a DJ competition in which he has yearned to compete for years. After being pressured by fellow crew members he decides to join them. During the heist, for no apparent reason, Bishop shoots the owner in the head, killing him.

After fleeing the scene, the four gather in an abandoned building where they argue over the evening's events. Q, Raheem, and Steel become angry at Bishop for killing Quiles, and Raheem demands that Bishop give the gun to him; Bishop resists, and a struggle ensues between the two, ending when Bishop shoots Raheem dead. Panicked, Bishop, Q and Steel run to another building, where Bishop stashes the murder weapon and threatens to kill Q and Steel if they reveal to anybody what has transpired. Soon thereafter the trio are picked up and questioned by police. Without any concrete evidence, they are all soon released.

Days later, Q and Steel realize that Bishop is fracturing, breaking down into both friend and threat while becoming addicted to the thrill of "juice." They agree to give Bishop as wide a berth as possible. However, while attending Raheem's funeral, the two see Bishop there. Bishop subverts his betrayal, and even goes as far as to hug Raheem's mother and promise to find his killer. Afterwards, Q and Steel are mostly able to avoid Bishop, but he eventually finds them and confronts them one at a time, questioning their loyalty.

One day, the Puerto Rican gang see Bishop on his own and attack him. While being attacked, Bishop sees Q and Steel walking by, ignoring him. Then, Radames brings out a knife but the police arrive just in time. The gang runs away, whilst Bishop chases Radames. Bishop manages to find him alone, and kills him with the same gun he used to kill Raheem and Quiles. In bloodlust, Bishop wields his newly found ego with authority but rethinks his position. In order to cover his tracks, he begins a plan to frame Q for the murders of Quiles, Raheem, Radames, and the near-fatal shooting of Steel. Fearful of Bishop, Q resorts to buying a gun of his own for protection. Meanwhile, Bishop confronts Steel and leads him into an empty alley, where he shoots him, suspecting him of disloyalty. Steel survives the initial attack and is able to make it to the hospital, where he informs Q's girlfriend Yolanda (Cindy Herron) of Bishop's plans. Fed up with the sudden tension and fears that guns have brought him, Q throws his gun into the river and decides to confront Bishop unarmed.

That night, Q and Bishop meet nearby, where a fist fight ensues. Q flees and Bishop gives chase, firing blindly and widely, and ends up shooting Q in the arm. Q is chased into a high-rise building, where he runs into a crowded elevator. Bishop follows, firing the gun and is swarmed by a group of party-goers, losing his weapon in the commotion. Q stumbles into the party, following the now-unarmed Bishop, who lures him, ducking outside a window to the rooftop. Bishop and Q finally confront each other face to face with Q gaining the upper hand and punching Bishop, who falls over the ledge. Bishop calls out for Q as he grabs his hand, struggling to hold on to him. Tired and wounded, Q loses his grip and Bishop falls to his death.

As Q turns to leave, he looks back to see a large crowd from the party gathered behind him. One of the kids in the crowd looks to Q and says, "Yo, you got the juice now, man." Q stares at him, shakes his head in disgust, and leaves. The film ends with a flashback of the four friends together in happier times as Bishop yells, "wreckin' crew!"


This is the first of two films to feature both Jermaine Hopkins and Khalil Kain, the other being Menace II Society, released the following year.


The film received generally favorable reviews.[5] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 83% "fresh" rating based on 18 reviews.[6] Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, praising the film as "one of those stories with the quality of a nightmare, in which foolish young men try to out-macho one another until they get trapped in a violent situation which will forever alter their lives.".[7] Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B+" grading, based on how it depicts four young characters who try to gain complete self-control over their surroundings.[citation needed]

The film is an inflammatory morality play shot through with rage and despair. Like Boyz N the Hood and Straight Out of Brooklyn, it asks: When every aspect of your environment is defined by violence, is it possible to avoid getting sucked into the maelstrom?[8]

Dickerson also received praise for his directorial skills:

Coming out from behind Spike Lee's camera, Ernest Dickerson has instantly arrived at the forefront of the new wave of black directors. His film aims for the gut, and hits it.[8]


Year Title Chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
U.S. U.S. R&B
1991 Juice
  • Released: December 31, 1991
  • Label: MCA
17 3
  • US: Gold


  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104573/
  2. ^ "Juice (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 1992-03-03. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  3. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-01-13). "'Juice' Ads Raise Fears of Violence". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  4. ^ Gregory, Deborah (1992-01-24). "New York Story". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  5. ^ Turan, Kenneth (1992-01-17). "Is This 'Juice' Fresh?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  6. ^ "Juice". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  7. ^ "Juice". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  8. ^ a b "News Review: Juice". Entertainment Weekly. 1992-01-24. 

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