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September 2005

By Ollie Sloan Jr.

Distributor: Universal Studios and Rogue Pictures
Director: Michael Scott Bregman
Producers: Martin Bregman, Michael Scott Bregman
Cast: Jay Hernandez, Burt Young, Luis Guzman, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Giancarlo Esposito, Domenick Lombardozzi, Mario Van Peebles, Duke Valenti, & Jamie Tirelli



In 1993 director Brian DePalma gave devotees of the gangster genre another hood to
embrace, one Carlito Brigante.The creation of Edwin Torres , Carlito is the hero of a
series of novels recording Carlito's life on the other side of society's moral line. As
in all stories Carlito's must have a beginning. 2005's Carlito's Way: Rise to Power finds
Carlito (Jay Hernandez), sharing a cell with Earl (Mario Van Pebbles) and Rocco (Michael Kelly). Each man representing a different side of the major players controlling the drug trade in the Harlem of the 1970's .The trio decide that together they have a good working chemistry which they take to the streets .Using Rocco's connection to the Italian mob the three start to deal in central Harlem. Profits follow like honey and our 3 "heroes" and the mob are very happy! The only person who is unhappy is "Hollywood Nicky" (Sean "Diddy" Combs) who runs the area adjacent to Carlito, Earl and Rocco's. After reaching an argeement with Nicky , it’s business as usual. As with any life our hero falls in love, deals out his own type of justice and has a major conflict. Earl decides to retire from the business and leave the country, he attempts to school his younger brother Reggie (Mtume Gant) in the aspects of the life with Carlito's help and ultimately bad results.

At this point I'm not going to tell you anything else. While I'm not a fan of these types of
films I can always find value in any film. Jay Hernandez is a good actor, and instead of mimicking Al Pacino's Carlito, he opts for creating what the viewer could believe the character would be like if younger with a touch of Pacino's version added to remind us of what the future man is .Van Pebbles's Earl is all at once cocky, dangerous and weary , Michael Kelly's Rocco, when mixed with the other two is great; an outsider on the inside. The man to watch out for is Luis Guzman as Nacho Reyes, the mob's hitman! Guzman steals any scene he's in just like in the first film, and if you're a film freak you know him and this only adds another great character to his career. Burt Young (“Rocky”) and Domenick Lombardozzi as father and son mob bosses are typical, Lombardozzi is good when pissed and his gang of thugs including former Hell's Angels leader /bodyguard Chuck Zito give a standard face to the mob. Generally, I fear rappers/ singers who attempt to act but Combs actually pulls it off. Nicky is intelligent, and funny but the one thing he really needed to be was scary as hell!!!!!. Combs comes across way too soft for the crimelord who stands up to the Italian mob! Could Hollywood Nicky be based on anyone we know? If so please know that the gentleman could be sinner or saint at the blink of a eye while never losing his cool. By the way there are a lot more blocks in Harlem than the six or eight this film looks like it was shot on! Harlem's pretty big. As for Mr.Bregman, I know that this is his second time directing so I won't blame him for everything but an army is only as good as its leaders. Everything was shot dark which instead of adding a film noir funk to it just caused me to squint! And the clothes among the "playas" was little more colorful, and dialogue in the street at this time was .....COOLER! Basically what I'm saying is that RESEARCH is the right word! We also listened to other music then the stuff you borrowed for your film which has been used in hundreds of other 70's based films.

If you're looking for a action packed, gunslinging gangsta this is not the film .On the other hand if you're seeking a decent twist filled hood-drama this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be and is not a bad rental at all.