New Jack City
|New Jack City|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mario Van Peebles|
|Produced by||Doug McHenry
|Screenplay by||Thomas Lee Wright
Barry Michael Cooper
|Story by||Thomas Lee Wright|
Mario Van Peebles
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||100 minutes|
|Box office||$47,624,353 (domestic)|
Snipes stars as Nino Brown, a rising drug dealer and crime lord in New York City during the crack epidemic. Ice-T plays a detective who vows to stop Nino's criminal activity by going undercover to work for Nino's gang.
New Jack City is a film based on the crack cocaine war in the USA. It was the first theatrically released film for director and co-star Mario Van Peebles. The film was based upon an original story and screenplay written by Thomas Lee Wright who had previously penned a draft of The Godfather Part III and would go on to write, direct and produce a seminal documentary of American gang life, Eight-Tray Gangster: The Making of a Crip.
The screenplay was co-written by journalist-turned-screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, who also scripted 1994's Above the Rim, and Sugar Hill, which also starred Snipes. Cooper is the first black American screenwriter in history to have two films produced in one year: Sugar Hill was released on February 25, 1994 by Beacon-20th Century Fox Pictures, and Above The Rim was released on March 23, 1994 by New Line Cinema.
Barry Michael Cooper's rewrite was based on a December 1987 The Village Voice cover story written by Cooper titled "Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats Its Young". The story revolved around the 20th anniversary of the 1967 riots in Detroit, and in its wake, the rise of crack cocaine gangs in the mid-to-late 1980s, such as Young Boys Inc., and the Chambers Brothers.
Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) and his gang, the Cash Money Brothers, become the dominant drug ring within New York City when crack cocaine is introduced to the city streets during the mid and late 1980s. Meanwhile, Scotty Appleton (Ice-T) has a deal with stick-up kid Pookie (Chris Rock). The deal goes wrong when Pookie takes the money and runs, causing Scotty to have a long chase and to end up wounding Pookie. He attempts to arrest him but the police let Pookie go. The CMB then convert an entire apartment complex (real-life Graham Court, known in the film as the "Carter") into a crack house, with assistance from his Nino's right hand man Gee Money (Allen Payne) and enforcer Duh Duh Man (Bill Nunn).
Scotty Appleton volunteers to go undercover into infiltrating Nino's gang and is partnered with Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson) as they try to convict the gang with evidence of the drug trafficking. On a mission they spy on the CMB, who are giving food to the poor, including Pookie. Scotty then recruits Pookie to work undercover at the Carter to help them gather incriminating evidence against Nino and the Cash Money Brothers. He then manages to get Pookie into recovery for his drug addiction and then to work for the CMB in a high-tech undercover mission.
Pookie ends up relapsing and sneaking drugs. While high, Pookie is caught by Gee Money, who also realizes that Pookie is wired. When the cops realize their cover has been blown, the CMB abandon and burn the Carter complex including any evidence of their activities with crack-addicted civilians inside. Later, the cops try to reach to Pookie but they find his bloodied corpse with explosives on him. Nick manages to diffuse the bomb before it explodes. Nino discovers that Gee Money ordered the Carter to be destroyed, which makes Nino angry and threatens Gee Money that if he blows his assignments again, he will kill him.
After Pookie's funeral, Scotty takes matters into his own hands by going undercover as a drug dealer who wants to get in with the CMB. Scotty infiltrates the CMB thanks in part to the ambitions (and increasing drug use) of Gee Money, after they bribe a mobster named Frankie Needles, who has connections with the CMB from his boss, Don Armeteo.
On their first encounter, Nino tells Scotty a story of how he murdered a woman as a part of his initiation into the L.A. Boyz as a youth. When questioned by Scotty if the murder was personal or business, Nino explains this away by saying: "My brother, it's always business. Never personal." Scotty further gains the trust of Nino after "saving" him from a gun-toting old man and by revealing information about Gee Money's side-deal.
Nino, Scotty and the rest of the CMB attends a wedding as Nick sneaks in Nino's mansion (with a guard dog inside) to collect the video tapes from the Carter drug operations in order to gather evidence of Pookie's death and the drugs. At the end of the wedding, Don Armeteo sends hitmen to assassinate Nino. The hitman fails to assassinate him and instantly kills a female member of the CMB, Keisha (Vanessa A. Williams). After that, Selina yells at Nino for using a little girl as a human shield and his murdering activities but Nino throws her out and ends his relationship with her. Don Armeteo calls Nino and he gives his words about giving everything to Nino as Nino angrily yells at him before the Don hangs up. Later, Nino sends motorcycle members to the Don's hideout, where Don Armeteo and his henchman are grisly shot to death.
Nino's megalomania separates the crime lord from his gang and is the catalyst for their downfall. Scotty's cover gets blown during another police sting of CMB operations when one of Nino's fellow gang members Karim (Christopher Williams) notices him from Pookie's wound situation, leading to a gruesome shootout and several police officers and Duh Duh Duh Man are killed in the shootout. On a pier, Nino confronts Gee Money for his act of betrayal and goes on the run, which Nino then regretfully shoots Gee Money in the head, killing him. After the gang's collapse, Nino holes up in an apartment and continues his crime empire solo.
Eventually, Nino is caught by the undercover cops. Scotty goes right in the apartment as Nick clearly kills a bodyguard guarding Nino's apartment and Nino is brutally beaten on a public street for his crimes against the community and as retribution for the mother's murder by Scotty. In rage, he says, "This ain't business, bitch, this is personal!" before pointing his gun at Nino to put an end to his nemesis. Nick convinces Scotty to let Nino live. Stone and Nino's ex-girlfriend arrive to take the severely injured Nino. Nino makes a remark that he will return before he is taken away.
At Nino's trial, after turning state's evidence while on the stand, Nino Brown pleads guilty to a lesser charge (though still a felony given the judge's note that the punishment would include at least 12 months prison time). Nino claims he was forced to work for CMB because they threatened his mother, and points the finger at Kareem, whom he falsely claims was the actual leader of CMB. As Nino walks triumphantly out of the courthouse, he is shot in the chest and falls to his death (justifiably so based on Nick and Scotty's reaction) by an older man (Bill Cobbs), who had earlier tried to convince the police of Nino's destruction of the community and had made an attempt on his life. Before taking the final shot, the old man cries, "Idolator! Your soul is required in Hell!" Nick and Scotty happily leave as news reporters takes pictures of Nino's corpse.
- Wesley Snipes – Nino Brown; an arrogant, smart drug kingpin and leader of the Cash Money Brothers (CMB), who uses his ideas into selling cocaine and crack. He was the murderer of Scotty's mother.
- Ice-T – Scotty Appleton; an New York Police detective who vows to bring Nino down as retribution since Nino was clearly responsible for Scotty's mother's death.
- Judd Nelson – Nick Peretti; Scotty's partner in the CMB investigation.
- Allen Payne – Gerald "Gee Money" Wells; Nino's brother and the second-in-command of the CMB.
- Chris Rock – Benny "Pookie" Robinson; A former stick-up kid who becomes homeless and poor after Scotty shoots him in the ankle. He eventually becomes an police informant and infiltrates the CMB at the Carter until he was caught sneaking drugs and killed.
- Mario Van Peebles – Stone; the leader of the CMB police operation.
- Michael Michele – Selina Thomas; Nino's girlfriend who becomes extremely jealous when Nino falls for Gee Money's girlfriend.
- Bill Nunn – Duh Duh Duh Man; the CMB enforcer and Nino's personal bodyguard.
- Russell Wong – Park; an police officer who has Pookie use high-technology for his infiltration.
- Vanessa A. Williams – Keisha; a female enforcer of the CMB.
- Bill Cobbs – Old man; an elderly man who is against Nino's crimes towards the city. At the end of the film, he takes the law into his own hands by killing Nino when he exits the courtroom by shooting him through the chest and Nino falls down to his death.
- Christopher Williams – Kareem Akbar; A bank accountant turned member of the CMB.
- Tracy Camilla Johns – Uniqua; Gee Money's girlfriend who falls for Nino.
- Anthony DeSando – Frankie Needles In His Arms; A mobster who has connections towards the CMB from his boss, Don Armeteo. Around the film, Nick and Scotty forces him to bring Gee Money to let Scotty join the gang.
- Nick Ashford – Rev. Oates
- Eek-a-Mouse – Fat Smitty
- Keith Sweat – Singer at Wedding
- Flavor Flav - Himself
- Christopher Michael - Bailiff
- Tina Lifford as recovering addict
- Beverly Mickins as recovering addict
- Kelly Jo Minter as recovering addict
- David Kinnecome -pimp number two
- Seth Kean - Julius the Ho
Truffaut once said it was impossible to make an anti-war movie, because the war sequences would inevitably be exciting and get the audience involved on one side or the other. It is almost as difficult to make an anti-drug movie, since the lifestyle and money of the drug dealers looks like fun, at least until they're killed. This movie pulls off that tricky achievement. Nino, who looks at the dead body of Scarface and laughs, does not get the last laugh.
New Jack City was produced with an estimated $8,000,000 budget. The film initially premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 1991, before being released nationally on March 8, 1991; it grossed $7,039,622 during its opening weekend. It became the highest grossing independent film of 1991, grossing a total of $47,624,253 domestically. The film holds a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.
American Film Institute Lists
DVD release 
The New Jack City DVD was originally released in Region 1 on August 25, 1998 and in Region 2 on July 28, 1999; it was distributed by Warner Home Video. The DVD was re-released as a Two-Disc Special Edition on August 23, 2005.
- Special Edition DVD features
- Commentary by: director/costar Mario Van Peebles
- New Jack City: A Hip-Hop Classic
- Harlem World: A Walk Inside
- The Road to New Jack City
- Original music videos: "New Jack Hustler" (Nino's Theme) by Ice T, "I'm Dreamin'" by Christopher Williams, and "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd
- Original theatrical trailer
Cultural impact 
Wrestler New Jack got his name from the movie.
- Tha Carter
- Referenced by the Notorious B.I.G. in his song Suicidal Thoughts -"See its kinda like what crack did to Pookie, in New Jack"
See also 
- Cooper, Barry Michael (2011, March 16). "New Jack, New Jack: Big City of Dreams." Baltimore City Paper.
- New Jack City (soundtrack) — original soundtrack to the film
- New jack swing
- Blaise, Judd. "New Jack City (1991)". Allmovie. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- (as determined by Writers Guild of America arbitration),
- see The Godfather Companion by Peter Biskind (HarperPerennial, 1990), pages 134-5
- The film told the story of the Rodney King riots from a gang member's perspective and a review in the Hollywood Reporter called the Discovery Channel production "more frightening and sympathetic than any existing dramatic films on the subject".
- Cooper, Barry Michael. "Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats Its Young"; December 1, 1987
- Wilmington, Michael (March 8, 1991). "Plot Twists Litter Harlem Thriller 'New Jack City'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- Roger Ebert. "New Jack City". Chicago Sun-Times. May 1, 1991.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: New Jack City|
- New Jack City at Box Office Mojo
- New Jack City at the Internet Movie Database
- New Jack City at Rotten Tomatoes
- New Jack City official site at WarnerVideo.com
- New Jack City movie review by Janet Maslin for the New York Times (1991)