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Film / New Jack City

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"Idolator! Your soul is required in Hell!"
An old man, from the final scene of the film.

New Jack City is a 1991 neo-noir crime thriller film starring Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Judd Nelson and Chris Rock. It also co-starred and was directed by Mario Van Peebles.

Snipes plays Nino Brown, a rising crime lord and drug dealer in New York City, who takes control of an apartment complex and capitalizes on the crack epidemic. But he is opposed by undercover cop Scotty (Ice-T), whose mother he killed back in the day. And now he vows to stop Nino and the deadly CMB at all costs.

Rumors of a straight-to-video sequel have popped up, but has not been officially confirmed as of yet.

Not to be confused with an episode of Father Ted.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The '80s: Where the first act is set before leaving it in The '90s.
  • Accuse the Witness: Nino accuses one of his lieutenants of being the real head of the CMB (Cash Money Brothers) and it works, despite every piece of evidence and testimony that proves otherwise.
  • Badass Boast: "Sit your five dollar ass down before I make change!"
  • Badass Grandpa: The old man at the end of the movie, who kills Nino. "Idolator! Your soul is required in hell!"
  • Bad Boss: Nino can be this at times.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Nino is this to Selina.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: One of the later examples.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Nino is gunned down and the CMB is completely eradicated, but the old man who shot him is promptly arrested and presumably jailed for the rest of his life. And even though the city's most notorious crack manufacturer is now dead, it's only a matter of time before someone else will rise and conquer.
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  • Blatant Lies: When Nino claimed Kareem Akbar, "the educated brother from the bank" whom he stabbed in the hand and nearly strangled earlier in the film, was the real head of the CMB.
  • Board to Death
  • Book-Ends: The opening shot slowly zooms in on the famous Manhattan skyline in New York (Twin Towers includednote ) and ends with credits scrolling up while the camera slowly pulls away from the city. Also both shots have the movie's Theme Song playing.
  • Broken Aesop: Scotty is ultimately talked down from finishing Nino, convinced to let the system do its job... only for Nino to then get a Karma Houdini verdict, thus forcing the Chekhov's Gunman old man to invoke Vigilante Execution anyway.
  • Broken Bird: Selina because of Nino being a Bastard Boyfriend.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Nino makes with Gee Money's mistress when she offers herself to him. When Gee Money later voices his anger at Nino for taking everything for himself, Nino dismisses the girl as a skank and says that Gee means infinitely more to him.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: In a sickening example, Nino uses a little girl as this when the Mafia tries to assassinate him at a party.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted with Nino. He had no idea the middle-aged woman he killed happened to be Scotty's mom, but he absolutely remembers the actual incident and recounts it to Scotty (who is undercover at the time), as it was the first time he killed someone—he was told to kill a random person to prove his loyalty to his new gang. We don't actually find out until the very end of the movie that Scotty was after Nino for this, and Nino doesn't deny remembering the incident because Scotty is beating the crap out of him as he tells him this.
  • Catchphrase: "Rock-a-bye, Baby."
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The old man no one took seriously at first ends up being Nino Brown's killer in the final scene.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When Scotty finally gets his hands on Nino.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: As done by The Duh-Duh-Duh Man as he dies.
  • Dirty Coward: One of the most despicable examples. Nino attempts to use a little girl as a meat shield during a shootout. Thankfully, she survives unharmed.
  • Disposable Woman: "Cancel this bitch! I'll buy another one." He just has Selina kicked out rather than killed, but the sentiment is made very clear.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Nino killed a young man, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire because he owed him $5.
  • Driven to Villainy:The old man shoots Nino after the latter gets off on a light sentence.
  • Drugs Are Bad: And the drug trade is even worse. The ENTIRE movie centers around this trope.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Duh-Duh-Duh Man. Well, he's not actually "dumb" per se, he's just sort of viewed as this on account of his heavy stuttering and is mainly Nino's personal enforcer.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Gee Money is disgusted at Nino for making Selina's infertility sound like a joke.
    • Selina's High-Heel–Face Turn began after she saw Nino use a child as a human shield.
  • Evil Overlooker: The three heroic police officers are downright miniscule compared to the sinister-looking Nino Brown looming over them in a badass pose.
  • Freudian Excuse: Nino claims that he was forced to sell drugs because his mother would be killed if he didn't.
  • Gang Bangers: The CMB are a notable subversion.
  • Getting High on Their Own Supply: Nino Brown is an interesting example, as the supply he's high on in the movie isn't his drugs, but his ridiculously huge ego, which eventually comes back to bite him at the end of the film.
    • Gee Money though does twice. First he's seen "marrying" his crack pipe and again he's seen taking a toke after Nino tells him that he'll kill him.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: After the failed attempts to expose him, Nino becomes so paranoid, he blames his own second in command and best friend and kills him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Selina, after she witnesses Nino using a young girl to protect himself.invoked
  • Heroic BSoD: Scotty has one after Pookie dies.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Scotty and Peretti.
  • Hi, Mom!: Nino Brown, who's just been acquited of drug trafficking and several murders in exchange for his co-operation with the authorities, smugly uses the phrase in front of the cameras while he's boasting to the press that he thinks the American justice system is the finest in the world. Then the Chekhov's Gunman shows up...
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Scotty almost comes close to this, but Peretti and Stone tell him it's not worth it.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Nino Brown relates a tale from his youth: His gang initiation involved killing someone, but it couldn't be a rival gang member ("too easy"). He ends up shooting a schoolteacher on the street in broad daylight. Unfortunately for Nino, the person he relates this tale to is undercover cop Scotty, the schoolteacher's son.
  • Jerkass: Nino is this in general.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: right after Scotty agrees to join the team, apropos of nothing, Peretti shoots a smiley-face in the wall of Scotty's apartment.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted. Nino manages to get off with a light sentence, but is shot by the old man whose house he had stolen.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Nino gets his pretty fast — he doesn't even make it out of the courthouse.
  • Karmic Death: Nino gets shot to death, just like he shot many innocent people. A direct shot to the heart we might add.
  • Kick the Dog: The CMB forcing the residents of the apartment out of their homes so they could use it as their base of operations.
  • Large Ham: Pookie, Nino and Scotty.
  • Limited Social Circle: The CMB.
  • Love Martyr: How Nino's girlfriend Selina could stay with him is a mystery, given how he mistreats her. At least until Nino crosses the Moral Event Horizoninvoked.
  • The Mafia: Nino used to be friends with them... Until he backstabs them and kills them. Though it was in retaliation of the wedding shoot out.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-universe, Nino is a noted fan of Scarface, watching Tony Montana's shootout at the end of the movie multiple times and quoting the "the world is yours line" as an inspirational motto. He probably quits watching before Montana gets shot, or he might have drawn parallels between the Miami drug kingpin's demise and his own possible (and eventual) downfall.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Implied to be the motivation behind Gee Money's betrayal of Nino. They were supposed to be partners but the latter treated the former more like a sidekick, taking everything for himself.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Invoked by Nino Brown and his CMB (Cash Money Brothers) drug crew, who make a token effort to provide relief to the poor in the form of a field kitchen to win the trust of the people. In reality, they ruthlessly took over one of the projects to set up their drug labsby forcing out all the previous residents and just make things worse by peddling their product to the unfortunate.
  • Non-Protagonist Resolver: Nino is ultimately killed by a seemingly random old man who has been railing against Nino’s drug operations throughout the entire movie.
  • Nothing Personal: A major plot-point. When undercover cop Scotty Appleton and drug kingpin Nino Brown are hanging out one night, Nino confesses that he killed an innocent school teacher as part of an initiation into a gang. Scotty asked Nino if the killing was business or personal. Nino made it clear that all his killings are business, never personal. Turns out that school teacher was Scotty Appleton's mother and he nearly kills Nino Brown during the climax, making it clear that killing his mother was personal.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Benny "Pookie" Robinson.
  • Salt and Pepper: Scotty and Peretti.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!:
    • The charismatic drug lord Nino Brown gave such a speech to the old military veteran, after the veteran tries to reason with Nino that he's destroying his own community and hurting his own people selling drugs. Nino's response:
    Nino Brown: Look at you... in a few years they'll be marking your grave. Me? I'll be right here. What can you offer them? Another "I have a dream" speech? Some of that same shit you ripping off to me? Look where we at. Not a pot to piss in, nor a window to throw it out of. You's the fool, old man.
    • Nino Brown continued to joke about the war veteran later that night. But the old man would get the last laugh.
  • Smug Snake: Nino's sliminess reaches its epitome near the end when he makes a deal with the prosecution for a reduced sentence. He gloats to the cop who tried to get him convicted and whose mother he killed years ago to come work for him when he's back on the streets, and praises the American justice system to the press. He is almost immediately publically killed vigilante-style by an old man whose life he destroyed earlier in the film.
  • Spanner in the Works: Nino Brown is able to fast talk his way out of serious prison time, only to get killed by an old war veteran he didn't take seriously during the film.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Subverted when the hero cop chases a young criminal through an extended Chase Scene and the cop never draws his gun. However, when the crook suddenly draws a gun, that is when the cop draws his own and shoots him down.
  • Tempting Fate: Nino is just begging to be killed.
  • Token White: Peretti.
  • Verbal Tic: Duh-Duh Man stutters.(hence his name)
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Nino and the CMB are based on Boston drug lord Darryl Whiting and his crew. Nino's last second outburst in court was directly lifted from Whiting's trial. The whole Carter House premise was inspired by the Chambers Brothers of Detroit.
  • Vigilante Execution: Druglord Nino Brown walks arrogantly out of the courtroom in front of the police protagonists, confident he will not serve a sentence commensurate with his crimes. The old man who was hounding Brown throughout the film for destroying his neighborhood with his drug trade shoots him dead in the courthouse foyer.
  • Villainous Friendship: Nino has a friendship with Gee Money that doesn't seem to be faked. When they establish their criminal empire Nino tells Gee that they've finally made it and that they have to look out for each other. Near the end he expresses his friendship with Gee as more important to him than all the money and women he has gotten, but they just can't go back to the way they were aafter Gee betrays Nino by allowing an undercover cop to infiltrate CMB and also making a deal said cop behind Nino's back. Nino struggles to kill Gee as tears roll down his face..
  • Villain Protagonist: This movie chronicles Nino's rise and fall.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Nino tries to gain the people's support by handing out free meals to the poor and money to the children. The cops Scotty and Peretti openly call his Robin Hood act out as crap, as does an old man whose grandson is among those children. At the same time, Nino has forced entire families out of their homes to build his drug factory and is preying on the poor to sell his drugs. Deconstructed as Nino's empire starts to fall apart, and especially while Scotty beats him to the cheers and encouragement of a crowd, and it's made clear that the people of the neighborhood despise Nino.
  • What the Hell, Hero??: Nick Perreti, especially in his racist rants against Scotty. But initially he comes to respect Scotty as an equal, especially after Pookie dies.
  • You Have Failed Me: After the police infiltrate the drug operation and the CMB are forced to destroy their production plant when they capture a police informant, Nino threatens his gang with killing them if they fail him again, stabbing one through the hand to make his point.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Gee's death, although this is only one of the reasons he was killed by Nino.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Despite being in a relationship with Selina, Nino has no qualms over sleeping with other women.

Example of: