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Newsday: "A state-of-the-art gangster movie. Mesmerizing. Spectacular." Nino Brown is an American success story. He's rich, young, handsome, smart, prominent in his community. He's also a big-time drug baron, a new wave entrepreneur who's found the ultimate cash crop - crack. Nino thinks he's untouchable. He's wrong. For a handful of street smart cops are determined to bring him down. New Jack City is a gangster movie for the 90's, a hard hitting tale of high impact action, an all star cast, and a dynamic soundtrack. Color, Dolby Digital Stereo Surround, Rated R, Approximate Running Time 101 Minutes.
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Some pundits called it a flawed, exploitative action film that glamorized drug dealing and the luxury of a lucrative criminal lifestyle, spawning a trend of films that attracted youth gangs and provoked violence in theaters. Others hailed it as a breakthrough movie that depicted drug dealers as ruthless, corrupt, and evil, leading dead-end lives that no rational youth would want to emulate. However you interpret it, New Jack City is still one of the first and best films of the 1990s to crack open the underworld of cocaine and peer inside with its eyes wide open. It's also the film that established Wesley Snipes as an actor to watch, with enough charisma to bring an insidious quality of seduction to his role as coke-lord Nino Brown, and enough intelligence to portray a character deluded by his own sense of indestructible power. Director Mario Van Peebles stretched his otherwise-limited talent to bring vivid authenticity and urgency to this crime story, and subplots involving a pair of tenacious cops (Ice-T, Judd Nelson) and a recovering coke addict (Chris Rock) provide additional dramatic tension. Although some critics may hesitate to admit it, New Jack City deserves mention in any serious discussion about African American filmmakers and influential films. --Jeff Shannon
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