DVD release date: January 17th 1992
Directed By: Ernest Dickerson
Running time: 100 min.
Story By: Ernest Dickerson
Written By: Ernest Dickerson & Gerard Brown
Cinematography By: Larry Banks
Edited By: Sam Pollard & Brunilda Torres
It’s now almost 20 years since the Ernest Dickerson written & produced film was released & personally I don’t feel that it needs a remake. The big DJ challenge competition scene shows that Hip Hop influence is major & cameos from the likes of Queen Latifah, EPMD, Special Ed, Ed Lover, Doctor Dré, Fab Five Freddy, and Treach enforce this. The legendary Samuel L. Jackson adds more weight to the cast & showcases his ability to portray varying types of characters, this time as the owner of a video game arcade.
The official soundtrack in my opinion is in my opinon one of the best, if not the best Hip Hop based move soundtracks ever & boasts tracks by Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, Naughty By Nature, Cypress Hill, Big Daddy Kane & Salt-n-Pepa. Surprisingly there’s no 2Pac track included. The most striking image is the promotional cover of the DVD, film poster & soundtrack which shows 2Pac hooded & holding a gun. After pressure to do so Paramount airbrushed the gun out amid talk of promoting violence & portraying black youth & Hip Hop in a violent way.
Seen as a East Coast/NY version of Boyz N The Hood the action is centred around 4 high school friends in Harlem who call themselves the “Wrecking Crew”. Bishop (Tupac Shakur) is the maverick of the crew & even he doesn’t know what he is capable of next. He is clearly affected by his father’s mental illness & wilds out to forget. Later events show that the illness may be inherent. Q (Omar Epps) is the aspiring DJ & other than spending time with his older woman girlfriend Yolanda (Cindy Herron of En Vogue fame) he slaves over his turntables & hustles his mixtapes. Raheem (Khalil Kain) is cool & laid back & uses his demeanour to keep the crew in order. His only worries come from his constant squabbling with his baby mother. Finally Steel (Jermaine Hopkins) is almost a peripheral character & definitely last in order of importance in the crew. Teased for his weight he eagerly tries to fit in & uses his humour to gain favour with the others.
The boys spend the majority of their time hanging out in the video arcade, cutting classes, watching TV at Steel’s house & stealing vinyl & tapes from a local record store. On the downside they face harassment from the police & a Puerto Rican gang led by Radames who really has it in for Bishop.
Short of cash Bishop uses his intimidatory powers to persuade the boys to rob a small local Puerto Rican store owned by old man Quiles, a man who also gives the boys a hard time. The already strained relationship between Bishop & Q is further affected as on the same night of the planned robbery Q is to compete in a DJ competition. Q is hesitant to ruin his chances of throwing away his dream that he has worked so hard for, but in order not to look weak in front of his growing rival Bishop he reluctantly agrees.
Bishop’s subsequent actions, mainly involving the use of his acquired gun & apparent loss of sanity lead to events tragically spiralling out of control. Betrayal & even death ensue culminating in an inevitable final confrontation between Bishop & Q that only one of them will survive.
The action ends in dramatic & fatal circumstances & final dialogue in the film is “Yo, you got the juice now, man.” If this film as reported is remade a monumental effort will need to be made to match the original. For me that’s a mission impossible. We already know who’s got the “Juice”.
Tupac Shakur – Roland Bishop
Khalil Kain – Raheem Porter
Omar Epps – Quincy ‘Q’ Powell
Jermaine ‘Huggy’ Hopkins – Eric ‘Steel’ Thurman
Cindy Herron – Yolanda
Vincent Laresca – Radames
Samuel L. Jackson – Trip