Customer Reviews: Sugar Hill
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on June 14, 2002
From Covenant Avenue to St. Nick-Harlem, once
the mecca that African-Americans lived, breathed and
thrived in, has become a pocket of infestation, a neigh-
borhood in hell, a timeshare in Vietnam. There's a war,
children, a war of values, of ethics, of lives, of genera-
tions and, ultimately, the spoils are simply blood, mate-
rial goods and empty futures. Wesley Snipes stars in the
new film Sugar Hill, which follows Roemello, a mid-
level drug kingpin, through the course of what seems to
be a week. Roemello is tired, but why he is exhausted is
never made clear. The film, directed by Leon Ichaso,
takes an unflinching look at both yesterday's addicts
(Roemello's parents) and today's (Roemello's brother
and partner Ray N athan) .The central theme is whether
or not Roemello will choose the true love of his girl-
friend Melissa, played with a defiant presence of char-
acter by Theresa Randle, or his surrogate father Gus,
mafia lord, supplier and the man who attempted to kill
Roemello's now-decrepit father. A battle over territory
ensues between Roemello and a competitor brought in
by Gus.
Roemello's father, played by Clarence Williams III
(who will be overlooked for an Oscar due the film's
release date), dealt drugs, supplied his wife's habit
(which leads to her death) , and lives in a walking death
of memories, regrets and heroin when the film opens.
Ray Nathan, played by Michael Wright, is the clingy,
needy older brother who relies on his Georgetown-
educated brother to balance his street insanity with
calculation and diplomacy. We then begin to see that all
Roemello is, all he has trusted, has abandoned him. Seen
this way we can finally understand why he's looking to
distance himself from his past. But the past is a curious,
vengeful, entangling animal tha t stalks all of Roemello' s
attempts to leave behind a vicious life for...? Well,
Roemello is never quite clear about where he'll go.
Sugar Hill is not one film, but several, and not one
story, but a legion of tales that fold into one another and
entangle tentacles of power, greed, lust, loyalty and
even family values. Two criticisms of this film are, one,
Roemello's character is made peripheral to the business
he actually controls. In a sense, we only see his hands
dirtied twice by murder. One is understandable, though
unjust, while the second is both unjust and inevitable.
Roemello, for all that his character embodies as an anti-
hero, becomes heroic as a drug dealer. His sense of
honor, supposedly gained through experience, makes
his moral caliber above those he deals with, and this is
where the film falters. How can the audience relate to
a good man who commits such a vile act as the extermi-
nation of his own people, his own father through
providing drugs? Is this a good man? Secondly, the film
also falters in that we, the audience, see the shadowed
results of murders-some not even shown. The audi-
ence can't visually connect to the crimes of the film
actually being committed by those we're supposed to
feel something for. In fact, a split occurs between the
good-bad guys and the bad-bad guys. Too many loop-
holes of justification and reverse condemnation perme-
ate the film. Are we, as an audience, so often spoon-fed
pabulum entertainment that we can't handle a mature
film where the characters redeem themselves not into
angels, but at least into something better than what
they were before? Do we need the hero going off into
the sunset so badly that we're willing to justify murder,
drug dealing and racial supplication just to feel good?
Make no mistake, Sugar Hill, even with it's intermit-
tently hard-soft hitting, is a film that needs to be seen, that
needs to beunderstood, and whose complexity and shades
of grey needs to be revealed and delved into. I highly
recommend it and feel strongly about the film, but I do
resent the soft-shoeing around the total impact that could
have been made. It's rated R, we're all adults, so let's live
in reality.
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on November 11, 2001
After reading how the critics panned this movie I wonder if they watched it. The movie has a very dark yet thoughtful feel to it. If we understand that critics rarely have talent as actors or screenwriters we can see how this nice movie could be so underrated by them. Wesley Snipes plays his role with a warm compassion for those around him. Michael Wright does overact quite a bit but he probably had a few years to go to become a good actor. Clarence Williams III was superb as the father. Theresa Randle is very good as the girlfriend. I almost fell in love with her myself. She seemed like the perfect woman. The rest of the movie is straight gangster done by a black cast except for Abe Vigoda who played his part excellently.
The opening scene and the scene about the mother and father is very good and sets up the whole movie. Especially the scene with the father and the thugs on the roof, which is fantastic. We understand so much about Roem's motives from that scene that we appreciate his later life and his rage toward the things which affect him later.
I usually don't like movies which are from the nineties but this one stands out. It is worth watching.
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on October 27, 2004
After watching "New Jack City", "Sugar Hill" is definitely a similar, but milder, pared down version of the former, still with the stark realities of street life and the drug trade being the common denominator. While in New Jack, Wesley Snipes character "Nino" is a cold,bloodthirsty,womanizing, and heartless druglord. Snipes' role as Carmello in SH is much more conservative in terms of his mannerisims, attire, and he is compassionate, humane, and sympathetic, but still not forgetting that he is first and foremost a drug kingpin who needs to take care of business. Ironically, Carmello must care for his ailing father, whose life is in shambles as a result of abusing the same product that made his own son rich, and eventually succumbs. I would even go on a limb to say Nino from NJC could be regarded as being re-incarnated in another life in this film as another character(Carmello). Carmello eventually tires of his life as a dealer, and realizes that there is more to life than the jet set lifestyle, wealth and material things.

Eventually,Carmello is given another chance at redemption, but must live the rest of his life with a crippling injury that was inflicted by his own brother, who eventually dies as well. Carmello starts over far from the concrete jungles of NYC with a new wife and child. The remarkable Clarence Williams, Ernie Hudson, Vondie Curtis-Hall, the lovely Theresa Randle, Abe Vigoda and other actors add to the depth of this film. Even after 10 years, this movie still hits home.
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VINE VOICEon January 1, 2014
Though I can rarely take Wesley Snipes seriously (in anything) this film has always stuck out to me as being one of the most effective examples of modern film noir that I have ever seen--also, one of the most dead on commentaries about drug use and the poverty of the inner cities. The mood that runs through it is, by turns, hopeful and funereal. At no point did I honestly think that Roemello Skuggs (Welsey Snipes' character) was going to escape Harlem, or that his older brother Ray (Michael Wright) were going to make it out of their harsh upbringing.

The story is complex and the anger pretty intense, but it's clear from the outset that all involved are doomed in some way. Even Abe Vigoda, of Godfather fame, who plays Gus, an Italian mobster who was close to Roemello from childhood, seems a bit worn and, well, old. This is the moral of the film: drugs make everyone who participate in them prematurely old, wasted, and greedy.

When Roemello was a child, his father (a heroin addict played with masterfully painful believability by Clarence Williams) was a dealer for Gus, and became hooked on his own product. Gus employed Roemello instead, who became his own employer, for a time leaving his old neighborhood. He returns to aid his older brother, a hopeless dope fiend.

The plot, though, is not what is as important here as the *mood*, which is absolutely masterful. The atmosphere is pure noir, and though it is clearly set in the present, it has the magical sheen of a 1940's film. Recommended viewing for all lovers of film, despite the occasional preachiness and hamminess.
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on August 5, 2008
I have always loved this film and will always love this film till my dying days. It reminds me of a time when Black cinema broke the mold with the stories that were told and how those stories were told. Sugar Hill is a well written and well acted tale film noir drama that never got the respect it truly deserves.

Roemello(Wesley Snipes) wants to break free from a world of crime but is constantly dragged back in. He cant live a normal life or have a girlfriend in it because something bad is always happening around him. His brother Raynathan(Michael Wright) is very high-strung and causes some of Roemello's problems plus he has to deal with his drug-addicted father A.R.(Clarence Williams III).

Wesley Snipes best performance is Roemello Skuggs. This movie proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Wesley can act as well as play a serious role. Michael Wright is good as Raynathan even though he can get buckwild at times. Clarence Williams III is excellent as their drug-afflicted father A.R. He was always a great actor that never got enough credit for great roles such as this one, Hoodlum and Deep Cover. Theresa Randle is is pretty good as Roemello's girlfriend Melissa. She is innocent in the sense that she is not numb to death and violence and actually feels pain upon seeing something like for instance a dead body. Melissa is gorgeous as well as likable. There are also some strong performances by Abe Vigoda and Ernie Hudson.

I love the setting of the movie as well as the cinematography. Director Leon Ichaso has an eye for things and you can see that as you watch this movie. Its a shame that the movie didnt do well and the director never did another movie again. I would have liked to see another movie from him.

In short Sugar Hill is an underrated masterpiece. No self-respecting fan of Black Cinema should be without a copy of Sugar Hill.
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on October 2, 2013
Product was shipped in a timely manner. It was in excellent condition, no flaws that I could find whatsoever. I had been looking for this movie for some time, and each time either was a sell-out or just hadn't found the right company to provide it! I am pleased that these days there are so many companies that one can research to find oldies that may possibly have been discontinued. Thank you for your expedience in getting the product to me . Will be using your company again. Thanks.
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on November 17, 2012
This is one of those movies that cannot be overlooked or forggotten about. I swear its almost like a gangster movie written by shakspear. For me its very inspirational, and thought prevoking. Sad to say but probably the last relevant and deep roles played by my boy snipes, similair to pachino in carlitos way. Love this movie.
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on November 10, 2013
Cautionary tale about the dangers of living the lifestyle afforded one in the 1980s and 1990s urban drug culture. I knew a few folks back in NYC who experienced this type of meteoric rise and fall...
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on May 17, 2013
Most movies I buy on amazon are movies I grew up watching. They aren't no where near the same as it was (especially now I understand them) but this one is still great. No problems with my purchase when it came in the mail.
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on January 1, 2010
No stranger to pain and tragedy, drug lord Roemello Skuggs is ready to quit his dangerous profession and settle down in a quiet new life with his girlfriend. Fate, however, has other things in store for him. After a lifetime in the narcotics trade, Roemello finds that getting out isn't so easy, especially with a brother still in the business and a turf war threatening to erupt. Nice dark film, with soft jazz, and beautiful rich scenery. This movie has depth and history. Wesley shows depth of character in this movie. If you plan on having a relaxing night type of movie, this is one to have for the collection.
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