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Film / Paid in Full

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Paid in Full is a 2002 crime drama film starring Wood Harris, Mekhi Phifer and Cam Ron. Based on the lives of real-life Harlem drug dealers Azie "AZ" Faison, Rich Porter, and Alpo Martinez (portrayed in the film as Ace, Mitch, and Rico, respectively), the film chronicles their rise and fall as cocaine dealers in Harlem during the 1980s.


  • Adult Fear: Near the end of the film, Mitch's kid brother Sonny is kidnapped for ransom.
  • Captain Ersatz: Many of the characters’ names are slight spins on the names of the people they’re based on.
    • Azie Faison: “Ace Boogie”
    • Rich Porter: “Mitch”
    • Alpo Martinez: “Rico”
  • Cool Car: Every successful drug dealer in the film has one, whether it's a Porsche, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Rico, in particular, loves motorcycles.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Played straight with Mitch and Rico, who deliberately seek fame and glory, indulging heavily in flashy cars, clothes, and jewellery. Subverted with Ace, who prefers to keep a lower profile, and who at one point chides Rico for drawing too much attention with his antics.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In order to pay Sonny's ransom, Mitch enlists Rico's help to quickly sell some cocaine. Instead, Rico kills Mitch and steals his money and drugs.
    • Sonny's kidnapping turns out to have been orchestrated by his uncle Ice, who resented Mitch for not providing him any money and for kicking him out of his mother's apartment.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the beginning, neighborhood dealer Calvin is friendly to Ace, dating his sister, and giving him large tips at the dry cleaners. His arrest creates the opening for Ace to become a successful dealer and to repay the favour, Ace gives Calvin some territory upon his release. However, Calvin quickly grows dissatisfied with starting so low on the ladder and decides to strike out on his own again. It's later revealed that it's he and an accomplice who dragged Ace into the apartment in the film's opening in order to rob him.
    • Rico also qualifies as someone willing to work with Ace and Mitch, but who kills Mitch to keep all the money from the sale Mitch was using to raise Sonny's ransom.
  • Gangland Driveby: Rico kills Calvin in this way, in retaliation for Calvin shooting Ace.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ace gets revenge on Rico by giving him the "out of town connects", who turn out to be the undercover cops that tried to entrap Ace earlier in the film, thus using Rico's own greed against him.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with Ace opening the door to an apartment, only to be violently dragged inside. The first two acts of the film are what leads up to that point.
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  • Just a Gangster: While recovering from being shot, Ace decides to leave the drug game. Mitch, on the other hand, chooses to stay because, in his words, "I love the game".
  • Revealing Injury: After Mitch's death, Ace is talking to Rico when he notices an injury on Rico's face. Rico claims that he got it from rough sex. He also lies about not having seen Mitch, even though Mitch told Ace that he was meeting Rico to raise the ransom money, which allows Ace to conclude that Rico killed Mitch.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Rico becomes a Betrayer Barry when he's arrested by the undercover FBI agents that were originally trying to catch Ace. He agrees to "snitch" on his "connects" (drug dealing connections), but refuses to give up anyone in Harlem in the hopes that he'll reclaim his position when he's released.
  • Would Hurt a Child: To show they're serious, Sonny's kidnappers cut off one of his fingers and send it to Mitch. And when they don't get the ransom they were promised (on account of Mitch's death), they kill Sonny.


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