Sugar Hill (1994)

Wesley Snipes is starting the year solo!  After recent pairings with
everyone from Dennis Hopper to Sly Stallone, the back-to-brunette actor
has returned to NEW JACK territory as another KING OF NEW YORK.

In the downbeat drama SUGAR HILL, Snipes stars as a Harlem hood who's
ready to retire. For years, Romello and his brother (Michael Wright)
have been dealing drugs for a neighborhood gangster (Abe Vigoda). But
Romeo's tired of the trade. He's knows what's ahead-- including a rival
dealer (Ernie Hudson)-- and wants to "get out." Unfortunately, Romello's
"retirement" is threatened by obligations to both his brother and his
junkie father (Clarance Williams III).

Forget the moral slant, the *cast* is the best reason to watch this

Snipes is great and always worth watching. He's backed by former "Mod
Squader" Clarence Williams III, a knock-out as the drugged dad. Father's
final scene is the most chilling in the film. Less impressive is Michael
Wright, who twitches more than Samuel Jackson in JUNGLE FEVER.  And
don't forget Abe Vigoda's genial gangster. He gets the best lines *and*
the best monologue.  (Of course, *everyone* in SUGAR HILL gets a
monologue and that's the problem.)

Barry Michael Cooper's script is way too talky. Yap yap yap and everyone
keeps talking. Here's a first: a gangster film with more speeches than
murders!  Don't look to director Leon Ichaso-- he doesn't know when cut
his characters off.  So every scene d-r-a-g-s. *Then* come the
flashbacks, which stop the film cold.

The intrusive soundtrack doesn't know when to quit, either.

But there are some rewards to the overdone drama. In addition to the
actors, the photography is handsome, the humor is rich, and the message
is frank. Not a bad balance for a "butt bruiser."

BOTTOM LINE:  Downbeat drug drama that's too talky for its own good.
Excellent actors and high production values can't disguise this

Grade: C+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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