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  • A 2.0 overall (which is what it was when I looked at it on IMDb), does not do this film justice. My ranking is an 8.

    When I read this was a pilot for a series, I was not expecting much, but I'd heard good things about it, and, since I sometimes feel that I'm one of the last Spike Lee fans standing, I thought I'd give it a look.

    What I saw was terrific characters in intelligent settings, a well-written script, well-acted for the most part (hey, these are kids). I really cared about the characters and want to know more ... but I guess the series was not picked up. Wonder why? Spike Lee has done a great job of giving us his version of the gritty reality of San Franciso ganglife.

    I'm no expert on this subject by any means, but I did find the stories quite engaging. And the characters are all likable, in a weird way, from the sober, intelligent K-Luv, to the displaced, entrepreneurial Nick, to the confused but commanding Peter, all ambitious and ruthless. We must imagine how we would react to our surroundings if we were in their shoes. It's easy to sit on a highhorse and judge these guys, but would we really be any different?

    The camera-work was phenomenal, with an earthy, videotape feel at times, and a cinematic one at others -- always appropriate. If you have an HD television, Showtime is showing it thus, and it looks remarkable.

    Catch it if you can.
  • If he wanted to be accurate, he should have chosen some Frisco natives and not a bunch of NY actors who know nothing about the Sucka Free (not Sucker Free). I've lived in SF my entire life, and folks here do not talk or act the way these actors did. Everything was over-dramatized, and the only cat I saw from the Bay was JT the Bigga Figga with his little cameo as a rapper. No shock that he was the only one in the film who really dressed like cats out here (ie his Warriors jersey). Not once did I notice anyone wearing any Giants or 9ers gear; instead he fitted them in some cheesy made-up SF or Oakland jerseys that aren't even sold around here. HP has no bowling alleys, black and Asian gangbangers do NOT wear head or wristbands with the colors of Africa or China's Olympic team, nor does every Chinese gangster wear a Yao Ming jersey and try and sound black while shooting hoops. Further, while there now is a significant yuppie community that has invaded the Mission, all that was shown was some white dude and a self-proclaimed "100% West Coast Boriqua." This is NOT New York! Puerto Ricans here are few and far between, and the Latinos in the Mission are very, very different from the ONE that was shown here, who was without a doubt from NY. Also, HP is not the only black neighborhood in the City. An accurate depiction would have shown the drama between HP sets in their own hood as well as vs. Fillmore, Sunnydale, Lakeview, etc.

    This film could've been much better if Lee had done some more homework and had a better storyline to work with.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In San Francisco, a Caucasian family pressed by the real estate speculation, moves to Hunter's Point, an Afro-American neighborhood ruled by the V-Dub gang and the son Nick Wade (Ben Crowley) faces problem with the violent gangsters. However, the drug dealer K-Luv (Anthony Mackie) decides to bootleg CDs and get close to Nick, protecting him. Meanwhile, the Chinese collector Lincoln Ma (Ken Leung) is blackmailed by the owner of a restaurant and he executes him, falling in disgrace with his mobster boss. The lives of Nick, K-Luv and Lincoln are entwined when the drug lord Sleepy (Darris Love) protects a rapper against the Chinese piracy of his CD.

    "Sucker Free City" is a good movie about dangerous Chinese and Afro-American gangs in the streets of San Francisco. The film has good moments, is very realistic and it is impressive the scene when Little-O is executed. The inconclusive ending is a little disappointing, but none of the lead characters deserved redemption, therefore life goes on. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Código das Ruas" ("Code of the Streets")
  • I went into this movie assuming it was going to be a series.

    You know the "pilot" feeling? We get to meet and know something about the main characters, how they got to where they are now, and have some ideas about what's going to unfold during the first season of the show.

    It was good, almost very good. But I also knew they were holding back some stuff because it was going to be a series. If it was a movie, I would have felt differently because then I would have thought: "Hey, I see where you are going, why hold back?"

    So, while I definitely felt a bit cheated by the ending, I was already cutting it some slack, because it was setting up nicely for an interesting series. I was anticipating some of the topics that were going to be brought up during the show. Lots of potential.

    In fact, when I watched it, I was assuming that the next episode was going to appear the following week, and started messing with my TiVo to get a Season Pass set up.

    But it wasn't available yet. So I decided to wait a few months for the pilot to get picked up, which never happened. After a while, I forgot about it.

    It's not until today, when I saw the listing here, that I remembered how I felt about the show.

    Frankly, my opinion now is: Don't watch it! Why put yourself through a couple hours of "pretty good" entertainment, with plenty of intentional plot holes and missed opportunities?

    It's a true shame they never followed up on this.
  • I have to say that I was surprised at how excellent this film was for a "made for Showtime" film (thought I shouldn't have been that surprised since it was directed by Spike Lee) -- it's got an engaging and strong plot line, extremely strong and realistic characters, solid acting, and it keeps moving at a good pace, yet doesn't bombard you with superfluous action, camera tricks, or extraneous pumped-up music.

    My only criticism is that it sort of peters out at the end with a somewhat weak, anticlimactic (nearly ambivalent) ending. But don't let my small criticism discourage you from checking this flick out -- it's definitely worth your time to seek it out.
  • mail-333314 September 2006
    I was amazed by the surrealism of this movie to know this sort of stuff is really going on everyday all over the world. It shows you a side of the gang life no other movies wants to show you, more then just the violence.The allegiance. This movie shows you how one gang on one side of town ends up dealing with other gangs and shows you the rules of the street, NO MERCY for any. I would recommend this movie to anyone whether I think they would like i or not. This movie to any one with an open mind as this will open you up in a few new ways. I'm not sure where you can find it but if you do let me know because I want a copy of this since I seen it on The Movie Network.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    San Francisco is a big city with great acting credits. In this one, the filmmakers made no attempt to use the city. They didn't even manage the most basic of realistic details. So I would not recommend it to anyone on the basis of being a San Francisco movie. You will not be thinking "oh, I've been there," you will be thinking "how did a two story firetrap/stinky armpit turn into a quiet hotel lobby?" Some of the leads used East Coast speech styles and affectations. It detracts, but the acting was always competent.

    The stories seemed to be shot in three distinct styles, at least in the beginning. The Chinatown story was the most effective and interesting. The plot is weak, ripped scene for scene from classy Hong Kong action movies. The originals had a lot more tension and emotional resonance, they were framed and paced better. But the acting is fun and we get to see James Hong and other luminaries.

    The white boy intro was pointless. I think the filmmakers didn't know what to do with it, so they left it loosely structured and cut it down. The father is an odd attempt at a Berkeley liberal - really, folks, everyone knows it's not "groovy" to live in the ghetto - but his segments are the most humorous. They threw away some good opportunities. Educated and embittered on the West Coast, a yuppie jerk here is a different kind of yuppie jerk than they make in New York. They are equally intolerable but always distinguishable. That would have been interesting; this was not.

    The Hunter's Point intro was the most disappointing. It was the most derivative of the three, and stylistically the most distant from San Francisco. You've seen it done before and you've seen it done better. Even the video game was better!

    Despite the generic non-locality and aimless script, these characters have potential, the actors have talent, and something interesting starts to force its way around the clumsy direction... about ten minutes before the ending. Good concept placed in the wrong hands.

    PS, there is a missing minority here, see if you can guess which one.
  • I was quite impressed at this mini-series debut. It was well worth the weight. The actors were entirely credible in the language, and life situations they were going through.

    Mr Lee was quite adept at showing the human side of each character set against the monstrous deeds and situation they were involved with. He was able to show in an episode what others can't accomplish in a season the similarities of man no matter what ethnic group of the human race we rep. We all have family, issues in family, desires, needs, mistakes, spiritual perspectives, a need to connect with loved ones and inspire them, and a hope in a future that is not only better for them but those around them. How you get there is the question, and what manner of man/woman will be if/when you arrive.

    I hope that Spike Lee is able to get this project going on Showtime. I know it will give HBO's original programming a run for its money. I was quite disappointed in HBO's third season of The Wire. The characters became predictable and less engaging. However, here with a multi-ethnic view it may be what this nation needs to help dispel stereo types and credit real conversations that connect us as humans and not categories.

    I hope Shotime sees this as a project to support 100%
  • This movie or pilot was incredible, and to later find out that Spike Lee had a hand in this totally amazing. It's been a long time since Spike has had something worth watching that was not totally focused on the read between the lines subject matter but a real story.The sad part is that some Higher power felt that this show would not make the cut, hello can we say Showtime did not clearly know what they were watching. If not equal to HBO's wire a definite second with potential to one day be number one.Currently I don't have Showtime because I feel that there shows lack that re watch appeal,but if the Slapnuts at Showtime would decide to carry the show I would order it in a heartbeat.
  • Much better than I expected - more real and gritty depiction of street life in SF than most NYC-based movies. Believable and gripping story line. Negative: Most of the story lines were left wide open w/out any closure. In retrospect, seems obvious it was a pilot for something bigger - just doesn't stand well on its own - just leaves the viewer wanting more. I would definitely watch this series in its entirety. Acting: Excellent acting from a group of unknowns - and a couple good cameos from seasoned actors. Direction: most of the scenes were very tight - no-nonsense, great editing. Camera-work: google-earth (like) opening credits and use of geography was really cool to show where scenes were happening. Some old-time TV scrolling narratives/history were a nice touch. Good recommendation ROH.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Just to put it out there first: I appreciate Spike Lee films because he has been one of the few out there taking risks about contemporary urban environs. That said, my opinion about this film is simply out of someone who appreciates good character depth and development, characters who are multi-faceted, and plot lines that weave a lot of disparate actions/ characters together (like in "Syriana").

    Just talking about the characters, the Lincoln Ma character had the potential to be a great movie character. Here is a guy who controls a lot of power in his hood, and he's definitely well-connected. But he's not self-controlled, he's got a streak of jealousy riding him everywhere, he's always both exercising his power but he's also not that strong, not that strong-willed. It's almost like the character "Iggy" in "The Wire." He's going to snap eventually, but unlike Iggy, he's going to snap real real slow...like he's going to mess up soon. Anyway, in reality of the film, his character is set up this way, but we never get to see what happens. It's great to see an anti-hero who you're not sure whether you like, or you don't like, but you kinda are real curious to see him/her deal with their surroundings....

    This is just Lincoln's character. K-Luv's character I thought would be more predictable, the benevolent gangsta. But he takes action/revenge that I didn't expect. It was kinda surprising. Well, to avoid writing more, a TV series definitely allow directors to explore themes and characters whom they create much more deeply. An something that is dedicated to an urban setting will mosdef be about communities...and THIS SHOW would have been on point to be taking this approach. And Spike Lee was going to really go full-on with this.

    SHOWTIME: You blew it. Here we had a combination of good story, a real setting, and a director whose interest is in urban neighborhoods, and the people who make a living in urban places. Plus, not to mention the great cinematographer. You missed it SO BAD....and not just in challenging The Wire or anyother HBO show, but just for missing the boat on a new concept on how we connect with our cities, and finally giving S.F. some props...

    alright, no more ranting on Showtime. We'll just have to wait until Spike gets his own channel.
  • Leon is one of the most entertaining sociopaths I've ever seen depicted. Hilarious and scary at the same time. Showtime dropped the ball on picking up the series
  • Sucker Free City refers to San Francisco, where three interlocking stories take place with black, white and Chinese guys on the street. Some are gang-bangers (black), or hard-bitten mafia (Chinese), and the other (white) are more marginalized with some dabbling in some 'thug' business. What's very strong here in a pilot episode is also something of an unfortunate weakness considering it's Spike Lee directing, and directing well: it ends on a note of 'what comes next', of a few too many loose ends to feel totally at ease as a stand alone work, which it sadly became once Showtime decided not to pick it up. While one wonders if they could pick up the reins properly from Lee, or if he could produce the series, or (more logically) if it could properly compete with HBO's The Wire, taking it as a stand-alone made-for-TV movie, it's quality s*** we're talking about, so to speak.

    Lee directs with a professionalism that is uncanny, but like any good film artist trying to work into something mainstream he only puts his marks here once in a while, even less than in something big like Inside Man (one of the trademarks though, Da-BOMB malt liquor from Bamboozled, is a fun and nice touch). He does what he needs to do: tell all these stories, set up a lot of things to play out within the two-hours and for the future (as there is uncertainty even in what feels finished), and cast everything to a T. In this case we get Anthony Mackie, fresh off of what turned out to be a turkey for Lee, She Hate Me, as a gang-banger K-Luv in abandoned wasteland Hunter's Point trying to go somewhat legit with his endeavors; Ben Crowley as the credit-card hustler and sometimes coke-dealer Ben Wade, who's parents have decided to move right into Hunter's point across the street from K-Luv's people; (way underrated) Ken Leung as a collector for the Chinese mob getting in over his head with a new decked-out car and debts unpaid.

    Lee creates an atmosphere that's tense, funny, and occasionally really shocking (not to spoil, but it does involve children), and he has a surprisingly strong script to work off of from first-timer Alex Tse. Everything easily gets linked together, but the tensions rise with some conventionality- just enough to keep things believable for TV. The set-up is even so good I'm reminded of Oz, where the psychology and sociology of street-life got examined with mature entertainment. One can only think how the characters lives could go on from here, but the fact that Lee keeps us guessing is a mark of his talents; ironically, this is one of the director's best works in recent years, and should be seen by more than just those looking him up this site. 8.5/10
  • Spike Lee's film about inner city San Francisco is amazing. It intertwines the story as a white family from Mission District move to local projects, Hunters Point, who end up starting feud with the Chinese triad gangs from Chinatown. Lee does a great job tapping into stories of all 3 sides really well and actually gives better insight into the Mission district and Chinatown area than the storyline of the Hunter's Point mob. Overall its a well written film by Alex Tse, and i thought they did a great job of combining different elements and giving it a very original feel. Great cinematography by Cesar Charlone and music by Terence Blanchard.--- IMDb Rating: 6.6. MY Rating: 10/10
  • This show was a pleasant surprise.

    A friend suggested it to me, due to the fact that I was suggesting that he watch "The Wire", which is by far my favorite show on television! (which doesn't get all the credit it deserves I might add) The very next day I viewed this show and was very impressed. I was wondering if this was Showtimes answer to The Wire. It seems as if it would be an actual series based on the way it ended. If I'm not mistaken, they'll be/have made an actual movie of this? And if so, will it be altogether different, or will this 2005 release be the same thing that we have already viewed? Will someone be kind enough to shed some light on this for me? Thank you very much.
  • While watching this movie I was thinking to myself "What an interesting plot with all these people's stories intertwined". Five minutes later it ended just as I was getting engaged in the movie and the characters.

    I'd probably give the film an 8 if it hadn't ended so abruptly. I actually came here to look for a sequel because I wanted to know how things ended. I learned from other reviews that it's a pilot episode for a series that was never released.

    I suppose that as a pilot for a TV series, it was great, but as a standalone movie, its inconclusive ending is really disappointing. If you don't mind a movie ending with lots of loose ends, you may enjoy this film very much. If you do, save yourself the time and watch another movie instead.

    I'm not an expert, but I enjoyed how the lights and music were adapted to different sceneries (e.g. more red-ish light and Chinese-sounding music in Chinatown).

    Regarding another review: I don't care if the characters don't wear genuine SF "gangsta" clothing. It's a movie for ***'s sake, not a documentary! You can't expect a fictional story to be entirely real. As a Scandinavian, I found it to be fairly realistic.
  • Spike Lee, by mere presence, can apparently tick people off. Here he makes an excellent pilot (and man, oh man, I so wanted this story and series to continue by the time the ending came), pinpointing so many feelings and tensions that have run deep in the city since clear back into the times of the emergence of the GD. Racial tensions bubbling over, gangs intruding on each other's turf, the hapless and hopeless feel of the HP, a ghetto with a capital G, which also, thanks to the ridiculous chemicals in the ground and the cancer risk, will be the hood with the best views for probably the next 30 years (you can't gentrify cancer, sorry).

    I won't do another plot spoiler, but it's very well done, this view of intersecting stories, and gang life as more than just dangerous games to make money. Lee really shows gang as also a protecting family, and the different levels of involvement people in the neighborhood have. In short, we have the ugly side, and see the scary full-bore, but also the good, loving aspect. The tensions between the neighborhoods and different races, the actions of the intelligent members who wish to avoid bloodshed vs. the hotheaded thugs who simply want blood and vengeance, it's all detailed excellently. In fact, there isn't a single badly-drawn character here.

    It's all here, and it's done the way you'll really see the city as one of these people. Not everybody lives in North Beach or right at the base of a cable car (I swear, if I see another stupid movie with gratuitous shots of Telegraph and the Financial D I'm gonna scream), so there are none of the classic tourist shots, but the location shots are handled perfectly, with a real feel for the neighborhoods. Yet on the other side there are people who take exception with small details, like neighborhood layout, or the fact that many of the bangers had NY-influenced speech and dress. Yes, it wasn't perfect, but it was close enough, and I would hope that if this series was picked up they would have given it a more authentic city flavor, but it was a NY production, and give them credit for what they did--a rich, nuanced story involving three areas and subcultures which don't get much attention in the city. Plus, they actually used it, vs. some sound stage in LA with a row of generic Victorians. I especially loved the fact that the ending used that classic song ("Flowers in Your Hair") that every city native hates because of the idiotic and simplistic LA view it gives of the city, because it gave such a clear picture of the contrast of real life vs. what people expect the city to be "all about." Masterful. I was drooling for at least one more scene, shot, anything more after that ending. I can only pray that one day Showtime or someone with brains resurrects this amazing show.
  • godfather-1323 February 2005
    This would have been a great show and Showtime is stupid for not picking it up. As a movie, there is a lot of strong acting and camera work, but it's not that tight because there is no closure. It is obvious that it was made to be a pilot for a TV Series because it just leaves you wanting more... I am happy I saw it - I just lost a lot of respect for Showtime though. Their station is weak except for the late night skin movies which suck too, and it could have potential to rival HBO if they would have picked this up. I highly recommend seeing it because it shows Spike's diversity, filming on location in San Francisco and working not only with African-American protagonists, but Chinese and Caucasions too. Good work Spike, stay in there!
  • I liked this film not only for the diversity of actors but I thought the story was cool too. I think Savage plays a great bohemian. Kinda reminds me of my pops a bit. When the Chinese kids are playing basketball I was laughing cause it reminding me of my days at Uni. Coming from the high school I went to where the majority of players were either black or white, I learned quickly that basketball had a real big following in East Asia.

    I think big kudos have to be given to the casting exec who made some of the calls for the supporting cast. K-Luv's girl was slamming. So was Nick's sister and his co-worker.

    I think this would make an excellent series for Showtime. Hopefully, someone with some vision can pitch this and maybe make this happen.

    I would really like to see further developments with the bootleg business and the business with the stolen card numbers. Also, I'd like to see if a little something-something happens between Nick and the chick from his office and if K-Luv tries to kick it with Nick's sister. Business is business but things can get sticking when it becomes personal.

    With the ending of the film, especially, writers left a lot of possibilities for continuing stories.

    Another top joint from the man they call Spike!
  • Codacraft20 February 2005
    Writing from the Bay Area.... This Sh*ts real. Dialogue's real & Tight including the parental speak of aging hippies caught between Accommodation & Slaughter. Spike, If Showtime is too Dense Take this to HBO. Showtime is too Lame for you anyway man. That would work best for me. I would never subscribe to Showtime after the preview. .... but I would have if this Pilot had gotten picked up. TAKE IT TO HBO, SPIKE & The EMMY will be YOURS. Great Acting & real SF Street scenes. Characters I want to see grow & develop...Wanted to see the Latino element brought In. What are they smoking up at Showtime anyway.... Were they disappointed that Spike did'nt Serve up some weak Pablum like Soul Food.... ? Darn. Instead he shot a masterfully accurate portrayal of Multi cultural thug life that runs deep in SF.... Must have made their Brains hurt. Were they looking for Karl Malden??? westside o Flatbush
  • yusefcarrillo20 February 2005
    Would give it a 9.0 if it was more polished in the end, but i understand where the writer and director is coming from. This "movie" was intended as a Series, until Showtime backtracked and pulled this "feature presentation" BS on Alex Tse. Sad really, this is a very high quality partnership, and the birth child is very nice. The camera work FYI is by Cesar Charlone (Cuidade De Deus, Man on FIre). It explains why they change filters, lighting and texture as they shift location and characters. Very high quality production. The story is very good. It has sharp ironies and is very critical with all the characters, with a very realistic picture of the underground in the City of San Francisco. The inconclusiveness of the end should be understood as a criticism to Showtime for not giving them the chance of a pilot, and as a way to convey that this was meant to be open ended, life goes on for the characters, even though the movie has captured an important part in their life.
  • chinatown161614 February 2005
    I have just been told that my comment need be at least ten lines of text long. grr. In short, I am a big fan of Mr. Lee's. I have been out of the loop and not heard of or read about the film prior to having stumbled across it on precious cable. It is the most beautiful thing I have seen in years, along with Angels in America. I was trying, throughout the entire film, to pay more attention to the wonderfully woven plot than to the lighting. But it is damn near impossible. The film is superb, in every aspect. Each actor had me convinced of the existence of their character, It is told like the tale of Another Country. Please watch.
  • cccyynn13 February 2005
    Well, I am not certain why this movie has such a low rating. I absolutely enjoyed every single aspect of it. Maybe its because I had the lowest expectations imaginable or maybe its because I decided to forget who directed the movie. Why did i like the movie? well it was not a new story by any means, but it was the fact that you get attached to the characters and also see how each characters story is reflected by the other I now understand why this was meant to be a series and I pray that it does become one. I did not want it to end. I wanted to know what was going to happen to each character, there had been already so much change and growth (if thats what u want to call it), in only 2 hours. Do not let the expectations of a spike lee movie, or the low average disappoint you. Take it for what it is and enjoy the ride.
  • I recently attended the Miami Film Festival screening of Sucker Free City. I am a big fan of Spike Lee, so I was expecting a lot. But then again I knew it was a Showtime movie, so I didn't know if Lee would put in less work. Obviously this was not the case. As usual, I was impressed with Lee's writing. His ability to include comedic elements into very dark material is ever-present in this movie. Lee uses the tales of three people (one white, one black and one Chinese) to tell the story of gangs in San Francisco. All three go through similar plights as the movie progresses, which Lee uses to comment on San Francisco as a whole. The acting in this movie is incredible, with a wide range of parts. My favorite was the father of the white family. A typical "old hippie," he is totally out of his element when the gangs collide. A very funny part. Overall the movie was very good, a great and logical progression of Spike Lee's talents.