Juice

Directed and cowritten by Ernest R. Dickerson, Spike Lee's cinematographer, this 1992 ghetto melodrama plays for much of its running time like a good Spike Lee imitation, full of surface liveliness but without the narrative momentum needed to give the story maximum impact. The plot involves four friends in Harlem (Omar Epps, Jermaine Hopkins, Khalil Kain, and Tupac Shakur), none of them very likable, whose crime-ridden lives are so blighted that they wind up destroying each other. Written with Gerard Brown, shot fairly effectively by Larry Banks, and scored by Hank Shocklee and the Bomb Squad. R, 92 min.

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