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Paid in Full

Action . Crime . Drama . Thriller

Ace is an impressionable young man working for a dry cleaning business. His friend, drug dealer Mitch goes to prison. In an unrelated incident, he finds some cocaine in a pants pocket. Soon, Ace finds himself dealing cocaine for Lulu. Via lucky breaks and solid interpersonal skills, Ace moves to the top of the Harlem drug world. Of course, unfaithful employees and/or rivals conspire to bring about Ace's fall.

Actors: Damon Dash , Esai Morales , Regina Hall , Chi McBride , Kevin Carroll , Mekhi Phifer , Cam'ron , Wood Harris
Directors: Charles Stone III
Country: USA
Release: 2002-10-25
More Info:
  • Michael Wilmington

    It's good, hard-edged stuff, violent and a bit exploitative but also nicely done, morally alert and street-smart.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Keith Cassidy

    An intelligent crime drama, not because of the criminal activity it dramatizes but because of its powerful examination of the forces that drive criminals.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    An unpretentious, sociologically pointed slice of life.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    The movie is ambitious, has good energy and is well-acted, but tells a familiar story in a familiar way. The parallels to Brian De Palma's "Scarface" are underlined by scenes from that movie which are watched by the characters in this one.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Megan Lehmann

    Apart from the slightly sanitized look of Reagan-era Harlem, this raw ghetto drama rings true, from the smooth dialogue to the unaffected performances of the central actors.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Maitland McDonagh

    A vivid telling of a familiar story -- the rise and fall of a street criminal -- bolstered by exceptional performances and a clear-eyed take on the economics of dealing and the pathology of ghetto fabulousness.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Desson Thomson

    The direction has a fluid, no-nonsense authority, and the performances by Harris, Phifer and Cam'ron seal the deal.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Fred Camper

    Paid in Full isn't a complete success; still, it moves beyond many cliches to create an honest portrait of several Harlem drug kingpins on their way up and inevitably down.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    A fake street drama that keeps telling you things instead of showing them, though Mekhi Phifer, playing a hustler who loves the life, is electric and true.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Carla Meyer


    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The only victims in Paid in Full are the dealers and their families -- and the only word for that is one this paper can't print.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Ernest Hardy

    Lazily directed by Charles Stone III (the man behind Budweiser's "Whassup?!" campaign) from a leaden script by Matthew Cirulnick and novelist Thulani Davis.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Jan Stuart

    a freefall into urban hell that doesn't give us The impetus to jump or the awful gratification of the ride.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Scott Foundas

    Begins as a serious, straightforward account of the origins of the cocaine trade and "gangsta" culture in 1980s Harlem, but then downward spirals due to a weak plot and gratuitous violence.

    Variety Full Review
  • Ben Kenigsberg

    As superficial as his 1999 short film "True," the inspiration for Budweiser's "Whassup?" commercials, Charles Stone III's feature debut is set in a 1986 Harlem that doesn't look much like anywhere in New York.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Chris Kaltenbach

    Paid In Full's performances - especially by the always-engaging Phifer -- are strong, its message worthwhile and its sincerity doubtless.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
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