HTF REVIEW: "Paid In Full" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 1, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    [​IMG]

    Paid In Full





    Studio: Dimension
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 98 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English




    The American Dream... Their way


    Paid In Full is one of those films that
    probably received little recognition during its
    theatrical run thanks to lack of of advertising
    or publicity. Thankfully, the DVD format gives
    life to these type of movies, and its my hope that
    through this review I can convince some of you to
    give this film a look.

    Paid in Full is the feature film debut for
    director Charles Stone III (who gave us Drumline
    and those memorable Budweiser "Whassup" ads) and is
    based on the true stories of famous drug lords (Alpo,
    A.Z. and Rich Porter) during that era of ever-growing
    cocaine addiction. The setting is the heart of Harlem
    during the late 80s when its community was sharply
    divided by the rich and powerful vs. the low lifes.

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    Ace (Wood Harris) is a young man who lives and works
    in the well known block of Harlem. He works at a dry
    cleaners, and watches from the store window as his
    friends drive by in fancy cars wearing flashy
    jewelry. Ace is a good guy with his head on straight.
    He doesn't want to deal drugs, but he loves the
    good things in life that money brings. He watches
    as his best friend Mitch, (Mekhi Phifer) makes money
    dealing drugs. Mitch has got cars, women and respect,
    in addition to being the envy of Ace.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    When Mitch gets busted by the police and sent to jail,
    an opportunity gets presented to Ace as he steps in
    to fill the void. Ace hooks up with a Colombian drug
    lord he met at the cleaners (Esai Morales), then hits
    the streets with a better business plan: sell a good
    product for less. Slowly, Ace begins building his
    own empire through his low-key drug selling tactics.

    Often brutally violent and often depressing, Paid
    in Full
    is a gritty portrait of the "Golden Age"
    of Harlem, as this film successfully recreates its
    style, fashion, music and nightlife. It is full of
    powerful performances by all its cast members,
    particularly Mekhi Phifer and Wood Harris. Though
    this type of story has been done many times before,
    I give credit to director Charles Stone III for
    this often gripping drama on the erosion of urban
    life.


    How is the transfer?


    Filmed in somber, dark tones, the film has a dated
    look to it, and that's probably exactly what the
    filmmakers intended. Colors are muted and the soft
    focus prevails. Normally I would be disappointed
    in a transfer like this, but in this instance, it
    effectively adds to the gritty feel of the film.

    [​IMG]

    I wouldn't call the film's 5.1 Dolby Digital
    surround track an enveloping experience, but the
    audio does come across the front channels with
    strong dynamics that are bass-heavy. This is
    important for the film's excellent old-school
    hip-hop soundtrack that is put to good use along
    with good .LFE response. I would have been more
    elated if the rears played a part in supporting
    this music, but alas it does not. Instead, the
    rear channels mostly provide the sounds of the
    Harlam streets as well as other ambient noises.


    Special Features

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    The lack of any sort of bonus features on this
    disc should immediately clue you into the lack of
    promotion that Dimension gave to this movie.

    The only extra feature included here is a full-length
    commentary by director Charles Stone III who
    often talks about the film's balance between realism
    and surrealism. I was fascinated listening to the
    second chapter as Stone talks about the meaning of
    starting Ace's story inside a dry cleaning
    establishment which acted as a womb for the character
    that sort of protected him from the evils of the
    world outside its window. It's amusing to find out
    that many of the exterior shots that represent
    Harlem were actually filmed in Toronto, thus saving
    lots of money on film production costs. As Ace
    starts climbing up the ladder of his own success,
    the director points out many of the subtle changes
    that were made to his character, going from gawky
    to confident. I actually enjoyed sampling this
    commentary more than Stone's Drumline effort.
    The director seems to have a lot of pride in this
    film, and it's quite enjoyable to listen to this
    laid-back cool cat talk about his vision for this
    project.

    Though there is no inclusion of the film's original
    trailer, I was sort of happy to get a Sneak Peek
    at Quentin Tarantino's upcoming theatrical Kill
    Bill
    as well as other non-anamorphic trailers of
    Miramax catalog product such as Dracula II:
    Ascension, Halloween: Resurrection, Asunder
    and
    Full Frontal. There is also a promo for the
    film's soundtrack.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Though this type story has been told countless
    times before, Paid In Full still manages to
    engulfing you in its world of tough guys, their guns
    and their rivalries. It's a world so well recreated
    in this film that makes for quite an interesting watch.

    If you see it on store shelves, rent it!


    Release Date: April 8, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. LaMarcus

    LaMarcus Screenwriter

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    I definitely check this one out. I saw a music video about this movie but that was the only promotion that I saw about it at all. I was curious from the video, but I never heard anything else about it. I didn't know if it went to theaters or not.

    Well, at least I'll be able to see it now.
     
  3. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    it's not bad.

    but I feel it's also not compelling.

    sound and picture are ok.

    as a real life drama, it's worth a rental.
     

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