New Jack City

New Jack City
New Jack City

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mario Van Peebles
Produced by Doug McHenry
George Jackson
Screenplay by

Thomas Lee Wright
Barry Michael Cooper

story by Thomas Lee Wright
Starring Wesley Snipes
Judd Nelson
Allen Payne
Chris Rock
Bill Nunn
Mario Van Peebles
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) March 8, 1991
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $47,624,353 (domestic)[1]
This page is about the film. For the Father Ted episode, see New Jack City (Father Ted).

New Jack City is a 1991 crime film starring Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Mario Van Peebles, Judd Nelson, and Chris Rock. Snipes stars as Nino Brown, a rising drug dealer and crime lord in New York City during the crack epidemic. Ice-T plays a detective who vows to stop Nino's criminal activity by going undercover to work for Nino's gang.

New Jack City was a film that was based on the crack cocaine war in the USA. It was the first theatrically released film for director and co-star Mario Van Peebles. The film was based upon an original story and screenplay written by Thomas Lee Wright[2] who had previously penned a draft of The Godfather Part III[3] and would go on to write, direct and produce a seminal documentary of American gang life, Eight-Tray Gangster: The Making of a Crip.[4]

The screenplay was co-written by journalist-turned-screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, who also scripted 1994's Above The Rim, and Sugar Hill, which also starred Snipes. Cooper is the first African-American screenwriter in history to have two films produced in one year: Sugar Hill was released on February 25, 1994 by Beacon-20th Century Fox Pictures, and Above The Rim was released on March 23, 1994 by New Line Cinema. Barry Michael Cooper's rewrite was based on a December 1987 The Village Voice cover story written by Cooper titled "Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats Its Young".[5] The story revolved around the 20th anniversary of the 1967 riots in Detroit, and in its wake, the rise of crack cocaine gangs in the mid-to-late 1980s, such as Young Boys Inc., and the Chambers Brothers. Wrestler New Jack got his name from the movie.



Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) and his gang, the Cash Money Brothers, become the dominant drug ring within New York City when crack cocaine is introduced to the city streets during the mid and late 1980s. They convert an entire apartment complex (real-life Graham Court, known in the film as "The Carter") into a crack house. Undercover cops Scotty Appleton and Nick Peretti (played by Ice-T and Judd Nelson, respectively) try to convict the gang with evidence of the drug trafficking. They recruit Benny "Pookie" Robinson (played by Chris Rock), a former stick-up kid and recovering drug addict, to work undercover at The Carter to help them gather incriminating evidence against Nino and the Cash Money Brothers. Unfortunately, Pookie relapses, failing the mission. He is found dead, wired to a bomb which Peretti manages to defuse. When they realize their cover has been blown, the C.M.B. abandon and burn The Carter complex including any evidence of their activities.

After Pookie's funeral, Scotty takes matters into his own hands by going undercover as a drug dealer who wants to get in with the C.M.B. Scotty infiltrates the C.M.B. thanks in part to the ambitions (and increasing drug use) of Nino's 2nd-in-command and assistant of operations, Gee Money (Allen Payne).

On their first encounter, Nino tells Scotty a story of how he murdered a woman as a part of his initiation into the L.A. Boyz as a youth (the woman turned out to be Scotty's mother). When questioned by Scotty if the murder was personal or business, Nino explains this away by saying: "My brother, it's always business. Never personal." Scotty further gains the trust of Nino after "saving" him from a gun-toting old man and by revealing information about Gee Money's side-deal.

Nino Brown's megalomania separates Nino from his gang and is the catalyst for their downfall. Scotty's cover gets blown during another police sting of C.M.B. operations and they suffer heavy losses. Nino kills Gee Money for his act of betrayal and goes on the run. After the gang's collapse, Nino holes up in an apartment and continues his crime empire solo.

Eventually, Nino is caught by the undercover cops. Scotty viciously beats Nino on a public street for his crimes against the community and as retribution for his mother's murder. In rage, he says, "This ain't business, bitch, this is personal!" before pointing his gun at Nino to put an end to his nemesis. Nick convinces Scotty to let Nino live and lets the other cops take him away, and a trial begins.

After turning state's evidence while on the stand, Nino Brown pleads guilty to a lesser charge (though still a felony given the judge's note that the punishment would include at least 12 months prison time). Nino claims he was forced to work for C.M.B. because they threatened his mother, and points the finger at Kareem Akbar (portrayed by Christopher Williams), another member of his organization, whom he falsely claims was the actual leader of C.M.B. As Nino walks triumphantly out of the courthouse, he is murdered from a gunshot wound to the chest and falls to his death (justifiably so based on Nick and Scotty's reaction) by an older man (Bill Cobbs) who had earlier tried to convince the police of Nino's destruction of his community and made an attempt on his life, but ultimately takes the law into his own hands.



New Jack City received a favorable reception by film critics for its cast, storyline and soundtrack.[6] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, writing:

Truffaut once said it was impossible to make an anti-war movie, because the war sequences would inevitably be exciting and get the audience involved on one side or the other. It is almost as difficult to make an anti-drug movie, since the lifestyle and money of the drug dealers looks like fun, at least until they're killed. This movie pulls off that tricky achievement. Nino, who looks at the dead body of Scarface and laughs, does not get the last laugh.[7]

Time Out London described the film as "a superior example of what used to be called blaxploitation."[8]

New Jack City was produced with an estimated $8,000,000 budget. The film initially premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 1991, before being released nationally on March 8, 1991; it grossed $7,039,622 during its opening weekend. It became the highest grossing independent film of 1992, grossing a total of $47,624,253 domestically. It's been said that the film was so good in the box office Mario Van Peebles the Directer himself thinks that it really should have a sequel of the first original version or have a remake to show a modern version on how New Jack City would be during this time period & generation but nothing is in the works as of now.

American Film Institute Lists

DVD release

The New Jack City DVD was originally released in Region 1 on August 25, 1998 and in Region 2 on July 28, 1999; it was distributed by Warner Home Video. The DVD was re-released as a Two-Disc Special Edition on August 23, 2005.

Special Edition DVD features
  1. Commentary by: director/costar Mario Van Peebles
  2. New Jack City: A Hip-Hop Classic
  3. Harlem World: A Walk Inside
  4. The Road to New Jack City
  5. Original music videos: "New Jack Hustler" (Nino's Theme) by Ice T, "I'm Dreamin'" by Christopher Williams, and "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd
  6. Original theatrical trailer

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ (as determined by Writers Guild of America arbitration),
  3. ^ see The Godfather Companion by Peter Biskind (HarperPerennial, 1990), pages 134-5
  4. ^ The film told the story of the Rodney King riots from a gang member's perspective and a review in the Hollywood Reporter called the Discovery Channel production "more frightening and sympathetic than any existing dramatic films on the subject".
  5. ^ Cooper, Barry Michael. "Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats Its Young"; December 1, 1987
  6. ^ "Plot Twists Litter Harlem Thriller 'New Jack City'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  7. ^ Roger Ebert. "New Jack City". Chicago Sun-Times. May 1, 1991.
  8. ^
  9. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
  10. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot

External links

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