The film touches on the lives of four urban youths growing up in Harlem. It follows the day to day activities in the young men's lives starting out as innocent mischief but growing more serious as time passes by. It also focuses on the struggles that these young men must go through everyday as well such as police, harassment, and their families.
After the boys flee the scene, they gather in an abandoned building and argue over the evening's events. Raheem and Bishop begin to argue with each other, and Raheem tries to take the gun back from Bishop. A struggle ensues and Bishop shoots Raheem. The boys panic and run to another building. While there, Bishop threatens to kill the other two if they tell anyone about what Bishop has done.
The other two boys talk to each other and agree to avoid Bishop as much as possible, though they end up seeing him at Raheem's funeral, even going so far as to hug Raheem's mother and promising to find Raheem's killer. They are mostly successful in their attempts to avoid Bishop but he ends up confronting them one at a time, questioning their loyalty.
Bishop ends up killing gang leader Radames after a scuffle and begins to frame Q as the murderer of Quiles, Raheem and Radames. Q looks for help and ends up getting a gun of his own for protection. While he is doing this, Bishop meets Steel and leads him to an empty alley, where he shoots him, accusing him of disloyalty. Steel, however, lives and makes it to the hospital and informs Q's girlfriend (Cindy Herron) that he is being framed by Bishop. Fed up with both the tension and troubles guns have brought upon him, Q throws his gun into the river and decides to confront Bishop unarmed. Q and Bishop finally meet up and a scuffle and chase ensues during this meeting. Q is chased into a building then a party by Bishop, where Q disarms Bishop and the chase ends on the roof of a high-rise. The two boys fight until Bishop falls off the ledge only to have one hand caught by Q. Bishop tells Q not to let go. Q struggles to pull him back up but eventually loses his grip and Bishop falls to his death.
As Q leaves the rooftop, a crowd from the party gathers to see what happened. One of the people in the crowd turns to Q and says, "Yo, you got the juice now, man." Q turns to look at him, shakes his head and walks away. The film ends with a flashback clip of the four friends together in happier times.
|Tupac Shakur||Roland Bishop|
|Omar Epps||Quincy 'Q' Powell|
|Khalil Kain||Raheem Porter|
|Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins||Eric 'Steel' Thurman|
|Samuel L. Jackson||Trip|
In the original artwork for the promotional poster of the movie, Tupac Shakur, who portrayed one of the leads in the film, was shown prominently while holding a pistol (see film poster, above). This stirred up quite a bit of controversy at the time; some feared the advertisements might lead to violence, while others felt the issue itself showed a large double-standard towards young black youth, and hip hop culture as a whole, with other films of the time being advertised with even more violent content. Either way, Paramount was eventually swayed, and the gun was airbrushed out of all of the advertisements and promotional artwork for the film, including the covers of its VHS and DVD releases.