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This Harlem-set rap thriller examines the implosive relationship between four African-American high school 'crew' members. Q (Epps) is an aspiring scratch'n'mix DJ, holding down a relationship with an older divorcee; Raheem (Kain) has an estranged wife and child; Steel (Hopkins) is the kid, a gentle butt to their jokes; and Bishop (Shakur) is the loaded gun with no safety catch. Their average day - the light-hearted first half of the movie - is spent ditching school in favour of playing the video-game arcades, having close encounters with rival gangs, and taking in some shoplifting of records. But an attempted hold-up instigated by Bishop goes badly wrong, and comedy turns to tragedy as fear and mutual suspicion conspire to blow the four apart. What distinguishes Dickerson's 'ghetto' movie is less the anti-violence message than the sense it gives of inhabiting the lives of these Harlem kids. Stylishly shot, it works well as a thriller; the result is energetic and entertaining, without the feeling of difficult truths being forgotten.

Release details

Duration: 91 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ernest R Dickerson
Screenwriter: Gerard Brown, Ernest R Dickerson
Cast: Omar Epps
Khalil Kain
Jermaine Hopkins
Tupac Shakur
Cindy Herron
Vincent Laresca
Samuel L Jackson

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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