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New Jack City is a 1991 crime-thriller/neo-noir 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 Citymarker 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 the first theatrically released film for director and co-star Mario Van Peebles. It was filmed from April 16 to June 6, 1990. The film was based largely on the notorious Chambers Brothers gang of Detroitmarker, who revolutionized the use of an apartment tower to be used for all phases of drug dealing, including packaging, storage, and the drug deals.

The screenplay was written by journalist-turned-screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, who also scripted 1994's Above The Rim, and Sugar Hill, which also starred Snipes. Cooper rewrote an original script titled "Nicky", which was based on Leroy "Nicky" Barnes and penned by Thomas Lee Wright. New Jack City was also based on a cover story written by Cooper in The Village Voice titled "Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats Its Young", dated December 1, 1987. 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, like Young Boys Inc., and the Chambers Brothers.


Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) and his gang, the Cash Money Brothers (CMB), become the dominant drug ring within New York Citymarker when crack cocaine is introduced to the city streets during the 1980s and mid 1990s. They convert an entire apartment complex ("The Carter") into a crack house. Undercover cops Scotty Appleton and Nick Peretti (played by Ice-T and Judd Nelson) try to convict the gang with evidence of the drug trafficking. They recruit Pookie (played by Chris Rock), a former stick-up kid turned 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 CMB have abandoned The Carter. After Pookie's funeral, Appleton takes matters into his own hands by going undercover as a drug dealer who wants to get in with the CMB. Appleton gains the trust of Nino by revealing information about Nino's assistant of operations, Gee Money (Allen Payne), and his desire to build a drug empire of his own. When Appleton's cover gets blown, Nino cannot trust anyone now and kills his once best friend. Nino Brown's megalomania separates Nino from his gang and is the catalyst for their downfall. 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. Appleton beats Nino viciously before drawing his gun. Appleton reveals that Nino was the young gangster that killed his mother, a teacher, as an initiation into his first gang. Peretti convinces Appleton 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). He points the finger at Kareem Akbar (portrayed by Christopher Williams), another member of his organization, whom he falsely claims was the actual leader of CMB and that he had threatened to kill Nino's mother. As Nino walks triumphantly out of the courthouse, he is murdered by an older man (Bill Cobbs) who had earlier tried to convince the police about Nino's destruction of his community but finally took the law into his own hands.



Film reviews

New Jack City was an independent film released primarily in urban metropolitan areas. It received a favorable reception by film critics for its cast, storyline and soundtrack. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars of four, writing:

Time Out London described the film as "a superior example of what used to be called blaxploitation."[69995]

Box office

New Jack City was produced with an estimated $8,000,000 budget. The film initially premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 1992, before being released nationally on March 6, 1992; 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.

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

Popular culture

In 50 Cent's "Hustler's Ambition". "So like Nino from New Jack, I holler 'Cancel that bitch'."

In Jay-Z's "Change Clothes" song, he quotes "I ain't a New Jack, Nobody's gon' Wesley Snipe me". In his Anything single, Jigga raps "We Nino and Gee Money, man, we all we got."

In the episode "Suspicious Minds" from Season 2 of the hit TV show Martin, he re enacts the scene of where Nino finds out the Carter was infiltrated, but instead tries to find out who stole his CD player.

In the Hot Boys' song "Neighborhood Superstar", rapper Juvenile makes a reference in the line "Nino's a fantasy, Juvenile is reality, Bitch I write my own checks, Bitch I pay my own salary" referring to the main character Nino Brown. The Hot Boys' record label CMR (Cash Money Records) is a reference to Nino's organization.

Nino Brown is referenced in an episode of A Different World. In the lost episode "Homey, Don't Ya Know Me" Lena tells her boyfriend Dorain she doesn't want a thug like her ex-boyfriend Picolo by saying she doesn't want a Nino Brown.

The movie is referenced in Ryan Leslie's remix to his song "Addiction" featuring R&B singer Cassie and rapper Fabolous. After Fabolous completes his rap, he heard in the background saying, "she sound like Pookie, it just keep calling me man, I just keep calling her!"

Nino Brown's trial speech is sampled in Immortal Technique's song Peruvian Cocaine.

The song "Harlem" by rapper Jim Jones features the line "Walkin' pass the Carter now it's pookie still smokin'", which refers to the character "Pookie" and his addiction to crack cocaine. In the movie, The Carter is the apartment complex from which Nino Brown operated.

The song "More Reasons" by rapper Cam'ron features the line "Seen New Jack City, copped me a couple Carters"

In Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Everyday Struggles", Nino Brown is referenced: "We got infiltrated, like Nino at the Carter". Another reference in "Suicidal Thoughts" reads "See it's kinda like the crack did to Pookie, in New Jack"

One of the former members of the group Junior M.A.F.I.A. goes by the name Nino Brown.

Hip Hop artist Big L says the lines "But it's crazy hard kid, in other words, it's spookyThe streets be callin me, like the crack be callin Pookie", referencing to Chris Rock's character in his song "Street Stuck"

Rapper Yung Joc's album was entitled "New Joc City" in reference to the movie.

In the song "Big Brother" on the album "Graduation" Kanye West raps: "New Jack City, wanna keep my brother, but to be number one, imma beat my brother"

Rapper Wyclef Jean references the movie in his song "Where Fugees At?" with the line: "Ya'll must be smokin crack like Pookie from New Jack"

Immortal Technique's song Death March makes mention to New Jack City in the line, "We can shoot it out in a theater like Juice in the 80's, New Jack City classic crap era mack milli"

Lil' Wayne's "Tha Carter II" intro song is all based on the movie. Also his "Tha Carter" albums are a homage to the building in the movie.

Rapper Bow Wow's CD was entitled New Jack City II reference to the movie which was his final album on March 31, 2009.

The video game Earthworm Jim on the first stage, the name is entitled "New Junk City" in reference to the name of the movie.

New Jack (professional wrestler) one of the most violent African American professional wrestlers of all time who has wrestled for ECW, TNA & many independent wrestling companies around the world.

Fresh Prince of Belair season 6, Will yells "This a New Jack City" before getting into a fight.

In Andre Nickatina's song "Nino Did The Cartah," he compares the love of money taking over him like Nino took over the Carter.

Dave Chappelle's character Tron Carter references New Jack City in an episode where he states, "Come Thanksgiving I be passing out turkeys like Nino Brown baby."

Possible sequel

There are rumors that a straight-to-video sequel is in the works, but original cast members Chris Rock, Ice-T, Wesley Snipes, or director Mario Van Peebles will not reprise their roles. Martin C. Martin, writer of Brooklyn's Finest, was reported at work on the straight-to-DVD sequel, for producer Mary Viola.

See also


  2. New Jack City Sequel In Works, Franchise Creator Not Pleased Accessed August 19, 2008
  3. "Brooklyn to Hollywood: That’s Some Subway Ride" by Trymaine Lee The New York Times August 10, 2008 p. AR1 NY edition. Retrieved 1-17-09

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