it’s not a very good film, but (other than some cheesy dialogue) it’s a really good screenplay. it tells a raw story and does it in a fairly efficient and entertaining way. the performances were generally overdone or poorly directed. mike ealy’s performance started off unbelievable, but got better as the story wore on. dmx is a good example of a rapper who shouldn’t be in films. it’s not that he’s an awful actor, it’s more that we can tell he wouldn’t be an actor if he wasn’t a rapper first. he came off as falsely tough and his anger seemed strangely unbelievable; strange because his music is authentically angry. i felt the film lacked authenticity in other facets as well. the opening scenes where we are introduced to the major players in moon’s gang came off as forced and TV-like.
one area where the film was entirely successful was in its raw representation of the gritty, unsavory side of the streets. the unchecked cruelty of dmx, in particular, helped contribute to this rawness.
one unexplainable part of the film comes early in the film – dmx turns for the better within the first stanza of the film and we never get a good reason for his turn around.
ernest dickerson (cinematographer for spike lee) does a decent job with the look of the picture, but i felt that some of the camera moves were ill-advised. dickerson seems like a capable enough cinematographer, but he didn’t come off as wise enough to make some of the artistic decisions that a director is responsible for.