Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Money, Power, Respect (DVD)Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Maiya Norton
When it comes to the drug game there are a million stories to tell. Hood narrators gather around to exchange success and sob stories about the local kingpin, how he got his crown and the cause of his demise. The cliche scenario above supports the concept Nas reiterated on The Lost Tapes: “No idea is original there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s never what you do but how it’s done.” Jamal Hill, a film director attempts to spin the timeless drug tale in Money, Power, Respect (Ruffnation Films) but fails to originate new ideas.
The film based in Philadelphia follows Levi, a teenage boy living with a single mother who is frustrated at his defiance to church and school, which leads him to the streets. Embarrassed by not blending with the in-crowd, Levi is taken under the wings of Juan and Drew who test him to see if hes got heart by using him as a spy to help them rob their competition. After saving them from a setup Levi wins their respect and gets plunged into the crack game. Gazing at the downtown Philly skyline from Juan’s luxury apartment Levi has an epiphany about the high life he would soon lead.
After flipping more work, Levi started popping bottles in the club, bought a new car and crib and snatched up Tonya, a girl whose boyfriend was killed. Levi’s mother warned him about doing “the Devil’s work” as he got knee deep in the game selling bigger quantities and doing business in Jersey with Tonya’s brother. His mentor, Drew starts using drugs and getting out of control causing conflict with Levi and Juan. A few body bags later Tonya’s brother is forced to choose between Levi and his pregnant sister in the face of the cops. The end of the film is abrupt and predictable as life flashes before Levi’s eyes.
Money, Power, Respect’s plot left little anticipation from the beginning to end, while the acting was mediocre. The second half of the movie picked up a bit with a few twists and turns but was not consistently suspenseful. In comparison to Belly or Paid in Full this film could have benefited by following their better execution.