Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1990s New Jack City (1991)

New Jack City (1991)

Mario Van Peebles made his directorial debut with this hard-hitting mix of crime thriller and social drama, which is as indebted to the urban realism of Spike Lee as it is to gangster movies such as Brian De Palma’s Scarface (1983) and the Blaxploitation pictures of the Seventies.

Based on actual events, the film suggests that the problems facing black inner-city kids are often as much caused by exploitative drugs barons as they are by racial discrimination.

Wesley Snipes achieves a chilling mix of arrogance and malevolence as ruthless drugs lord Nino Brown who has turned New Jack City (the film was mostly shot in Harlem) into a crack factory. Brown’s “suck my dick” attitude extends to women, the Mob and the police.


Scotty Appleton (rapper Ice-T emerges as a riveting actor) is an undercover cop determined to finish Brown. Appleton and his combative white partner Peretti (the ever-wooden Judd Nelson) unite in the war against drugs.

“It’s not a black thing, and it’s not a white thing,” says Peretti. “It’s a death thing”.

Such overripe dialogue frequently threatens to sink the picture, though director Van Peebles (who also has the small role of a detective in the film) pumps up the action with a percolating soundtrack that features 2 Live Crew, Color me Bad and Ice-T.

Nino Brown
Wesley Snipes
Scotty Appleton
Officer Nick Peretti
Judd Nelson
Gee Money
Allen Payne
Chris Rock
Detective Stone
Mario Van Peebles
Michael Michele
Kim Park
Russell Wong
Duh Duh Duh Man
Bill Nunn

Mario Van Peebles