DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

New Jack City - DVD Review

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When New Jack City hit the scene in 1991, it was a raw and provocative look into the lives of the â"gangsta" world. It's almost hard to believe now, but this is the film that put Wesley Snipes on the map and established him as one of the new A-listers emerging in the 90's. Looking back on it now, director Mario Van Peebles' film is still surprisingly solid if not quite as revolutionary.

New Jack City stars Wesley Snipes as crack kingpin Nino who practically runs the city through his underground narcotics operation. Judd Nelson (what happened to him?), Van Peebles himself, and Ice T play police officers who risk careers and their own necks to try and infiltrate the operation and bring Nino to justice. If you look close you'll even spot some familiar names in early roles, such as Chris Rock and Vanessa Williams. One of the most surprising elements of revisiting New Jack City (other than discovering that Ice T is a pretty darn good actor) is in realizing how timely and hip the film still is. To be honest, other films have covered this territory since then, but few have done it with as much energy and style as Van Peebles' film.

Of course, no good underground, urban, kingpin movie would be as successful without a hip soundtrack. Ice T, 2 Live Crew, Queen Latifah, and Keith Sweat all contribute tracks and the results really add flavor to the film and help establish the time and place in which it occurs. I'm not a big fan of soundtracks slapped on films to sell tickets, but in this case, the music actually elevates the movie. This genre of music may not be my taste, but even I can see how the music drives this film onto a higher plane.

New Jack City, now in this nifty 2-disc Special Edition, is a must own for fans of this type of film. Unlike other â"urban gangster" films released in the 90's, New Jack City truly stands out as one of the crown jewels of this genre.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Color, Widescreen 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; ausio commentary; featurettes; music video; trailer.

Disc 1:

* Theatrical Trailer - original theatrical trailer
* Audio commentary - with actor/director Mario Van Peebles

Disc 2:

* Featurettes
o The Road to New Jack City
o NJC: A Hip-Hop Classic
o Harlem World: A Walk Inside
* Music Videos
o New Jack Hustler - Ice-T (Nino's Theme)
o I'm Dreamin' - Christopher Williams
o I Wanna Sex You Up - Color Me Badd

One of the better "Special Editions" I've seen in recent years, especially since a film like this is one in which that title truly applies. New Jack City was an important film at the time of its release, and the features here (especially the doc The Road to New Jack City) are worth revisiting just to get a sense of the impact and timeliness of the film. The music videos are a bit dated, but help reflect the time period in which the film takes place. The commentary by Van Peebles is a bit dry, but informative. He seems to have great regard for his film (with good reason.)

Number of discs: 2.


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