In 1991 Boyz N the Hood helped create a new type of crime film that realistically portrayed the African-American underclass. Most subsequent efforts have fallen far short and Paid in Full isn't a complete success; still, it moves beyond many cliches to create an honest portrait of several Harlem drug kingpins on their way up and inevitably down. Mekhi Phifer gets the glamour role, Mitch, but newcomer Wood Harris's quiet portrayal of Ace is the emotional core of the story. At first reluctant to get involved in the burgeoning cocaine trade that overtook ghetto life in the 80s, Ace eventually becomes the neighborhood's underboss, controlling an army of dealers, enforcers, and bodyguards. Charles Stone III's direction is hit-or-miss, but the screenplay by Matthew Cirulnick and Thulani Davis, “loosely based” on real events, is fairly compelling until the final reel, when it succumbs to melodrama. 93 min.