Director: Boaz Yakin
Year Released: 1994
I think it comes down to redundancy: I've simply seen this same concept done over and over and better and better (examples: Menace II Society, Boyz N the Hood, Higher Learning, Clockers and Goodfellas ... in a sense) and the whole 'African-Americans with drugs and guns' concept has tired me out. I honestly don't really care about gangs much any more. I'm tired of the black gangster series' emphasis on eccentric dialects; I'm tired of the constant swearing and raping. Here we have this 12-year old inner city kid from the projects, and he's running drugs for some sleazy crack dealers (all the while juggling school and home duties). He's smart - perhaps too smart to get into a racket like this, but no matter - and his little business runs smooth until he lets one his friends get in on the deal (and to move the plot along), the friend gets him in trouble, starting a downward spiral in which he has to basically "play" all the dealers and hustlers like chess pieces (one of the film's overcooked metaphors) and somehow escape from this little fix he's in. There's a lot of double-crossing and shooting - it plays better if you don't think too hard about the logic of the third act. I must also add in retrospect that the killing of the lead character's female "crush" comes across as a totally egregious cinematic ploy, as does the lead character's hanging and shooting of the nice-dog-turned-killer-mutt (this, in particular, is an unnecessary metaphor). Samuel L. Jackson has a smaller role as the lead's father, an unlikely philosopher-king, who has reached the state of enlightenment after getting out of jail (also see: Denzel in most of his movies).