WHEN THERE’S MURDER ON THE STREETS, EVERYONE IS A SUSPECT.
When a drug dealer is shot to death in Brooklyn, a local man (Isaiah Washington) claims to be the shooter… but homicide detective Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) starts thinking that his younger brother (Mekhi Phifer) is a more likely suspect. Spike Lee’s portrayal of life in the streets for a gang of clockers (dealers) got good reviews but flopped in theaters – which is a shame, because this is intensely angry and relevant filmmaking. That is specially true in scenes between Phifer (an eye-opener in his first movie) and Keitel (great as always), who keep clashing with each other. A stylish look at race relations and how the street’s worst ills go down in generations.
1995-U.S. 129 min. Color. Produced by Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Jon Kilik. Directed by Spike Lee. Screenplay: Spike Lee, Richard Price. Novel: Richard Price. Cast: Harvey Keitel (Rocco Klein), John Turturro (Larry Mazilli), Delroy Lindo (Rodney Little), Mekhi Phifer (Ronald “Strike” Dunham), Isaiah Washington, Keith David… Spike Lee.
Trivia: Scorsese first intended to direct the movie, with Robert De Niro as Rocco Klein; as producer, Scorsese then suggested Keitel instead.
Last word: “I was leery of directing in this black gangsta, hip-hop, shoot-’em-up genre. No disrespect for De Niro, but when he left, I was able to change the focus.” (Lee, The New York Times)