What seems to be a film that could be another “Boyz N The Hood,” or a “Boyz N The Hood” of the East Coast is not. “Juice” has a compelling story of character development, drama, young love and a bit of comedy. While New York is often a central character, Harlem is the belly for creative culture and the love of the four young men.
The talented cast of Omar Epps, Khalil Kain and Jermaine Hopkins who played Q, Raheem and Steel, respectively bring individuality which drives this film. Q was the young man who worked to achieve his aspirations. Steel was the chubby checker softy who barely fit into “The Wrecking Crew” but was compassionate. Raheem was the smooth young father who couldn’t keep his grip on his baby’s mother and met an unfortunate fate. Samuel L. Jackson played the store owner, Trip that is not just a role to have on his résumé but attests to his gift as an actor. Cindy Herron played Yolanda, Q’s “girlfriend”, who was always there when he needed her. Yolanda had her own independence with money and apartment, which was and still is unheard of for female characters in a film of this genre.
Tupac Shakur was not a rapper/actor. He was a rapper and an actor. Sure his role as Bishop probably isn’t a stretch from what Tupac knows in real life but it’s his delivery that establishes the film’s telling of young black males and their strife.
There is the essential soundtrack. The film had appearances from Queen Latifah, Fab Five Freddy, Ed Lover and Special Ed, just to name a few. The deep music influence to tell the drama makes this film a classic. The fashion was on point as well. Q’s checkered long sleeve shirt with the plaid overalls could still make a statement.
The film makes it aware that it is a short amount of time until your friend turns into your rival.