Fresh (1994) Poster

(1994)

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A movie to make your jaw drop open
Jaime N. Christley4 August 1999
Now I have witnessed the third truly great film to have come out of America in 1994. One that can hold its own, and more, against such films released that year as "Pulp Fiction," "Natural Born Killers," and "Vanya on 42nd Street." It's called "Fresh," and I'll go out on a limb to say it's as powerful an urban drama as any other I've seen in my life.

There are no fancy cinematic magic tricks going on in this film, aside from an instance of superimposed images that is so simple it almost seems like a throwback to old silent dramas. There are no choreographed gun fights, no switching film stocks to produce psychedelic effects, nothing like that. Not to say that these things cannot be used appropriately and judiciously to enhance the effect of a particular film, but "Fresh" is stripped bare, and must depend on its performances, direction, and writing alone.

For starters, a young Sean Nelson delivers a performance that puts the lion's share of veteran actors to shame. He's completely lacking in self-consciousness, almost like he's unaware that the camera is on him for nine out of ten of the shots in "Fresh." His character, for which the film takes its title, may be the smartest youth in motion picture history for whom genius is not a gimmick or a joke (i.e. "Good Will Hunting," "Real Genius," stuff like that). Watching him, you see a wise old actor in a teen's body; he does not "act" any emotions or thoughts, but merely feels them and thinks them. He seems to embody bits of screen legend: a little Bogart stalwartness there, some of Jimmy Stewart's quiet charm here, and most of all Morgan Freeman's ability to communicate much while doing or saying very little.

That'd be just enough for most movies, but Nelson is backed by a choice supporting cast: the two most recognizable names are obviously Samuel L. Jackson (Fresh's chessmaster/alcoholic father) and Giancarlo Esposito (the slimy, high-living drug dealer Esteban), and both are perfect in award-caliber performances. Two lesser known actors, N'Bushe Wright (Fresh's junkie sister Nichole) and Jean LaMare (as Jake, the hot tempered low-man-on-the-totem-pole employee of Corky) are also terrific in key roles.

The screenplay, by director Boaz Yakin, is doggedly unpredictable, but in retrospect it all makes perfect sense -- nothing in the movie pushes the bounds of credibility. I've seen truckloads of thrillers, most of them are wearily proficient at making you guess what's next. None but a few, however, kept me guessing WHEN to guess, or surprised me with such affecting emotional developments. None but a few moved along with such self-assured grace and style. "Fresh" knows its territory, the time and place it's set in, and it provides characters who talk like they do in real life -- not ones that sound like they're in a movie where they talk like they do in real life.

The use of violence is admirably restrained. Most of it takes place off camera, silhouetted, or cut away from quickly. The two scenes of bloodletting, when they are shown to us, are literally heartbreaking. Not only does "Fresh" keep us off guard on a psychological level, but on an emotional one as well, something few films ever think of doing.

If I were to offer one criticism, it would be that the chess metaphor was pressed just a bit too hard by Yakin (though the final scene is devastating): we already know that this kid is thinking like a master strategist, we don't need quite so many shots of him playing the game in his room. That's a small quibble, though, because the chess metaphor is entirely appropriate, and Jackson's early speech about the game is an ingenious device.
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10/10
Your queen is just a pawn with some fancy moves, nothing more.
film-critic24 March 2005
Fresh is one of those movies that you never see coming. From the opening credits until the end, it provides you with this deep, gritty, yet utterly realistic portrayal of a youth's mind on the streets. While our normal society will shrug a struggling African American living in the ghetto as someone without the intelligence to go forward in life. It is a sad reality in which we live, but it is a thought that goes through suburbia's minds. This film proves the age-old saying that you should never judge a book by its cover. What begins as a normal urban drama quickly unfolds into this tightly woven crime story where we have this unexpected hero that arrives from nowhere to pull of this incredible feat. With perfect acting, the right combination of drama and action coupled with suspense, and a story that literally keeps you glued to your seat until the very end, it surprises me that more people haven't discovered this cinematic gem and attached themselves to it.

To begin, Sean Nelson is brilliant. I have not seen better acting from a young adult in my entire film life. Dakota Fanning comes close, but Nelson's emotion seems to be raw and uncreated by Hollywood. His reactions and passion behind his eyes is intense and compelling at the same time. You cannot watch this movie without keeping your eyes glued to this kid. I am very surprised that he has not done more roles that would be able to showcase this young protégé's talent. He interacts well with the other actors as well, giving us this rare glimpse into a world that many of us may not be familiar with. He takes us away from the clichéd child abandoned on the streets with nothing to loose and gives us faith in the family structure and bonds that are created between humans. Sometimes I think we forget this as we watch our televisions, buy our cars, and spend our money. There are important aspects in life, but at times our ideas of that can be skewed. That is what I love about Sean's role in this film. He defines himself early, and allows us to see his change clearly throughout the film. He begins as wanting to have a lot of money and power to using what he has earned to save his family and his friends. There is something redeemable about that which isn't shown as much in films today.

Add to the brilliant work of Sean Nelson are a couple of actors that really played well of the emotional child. Giancarlo Esposito, N'Bushe Wright, Jean-Claude La Marre, Ron Brice, and the unquenchable Sam Jackson are just a few. Nelson's ability to play off Jackson's intensity with the greatest of ease is just another glowing example of the power behind this film. You can honestly see where Fresh's talent began with the strong father/son dynamic that director Boaz Yakin has created. Yakin has crafted this beautiful story of a child's inner demons and desires with the greatest of ease. As a director, he has pulled more emotion out of these children than I have ever seen with any other child actors. Where he takes his story is bold and realistic. The dirtiness and grime of the streets contrasted with the intelligence of this child was nerve racking and intense. I loved it. Yakin had to be proud of himself to find such a great cast to work with as well as create this story that could be enjoyed by audience throughout the ages.

Finally, I would like to comment on one of the most important themes of this film that I didn't realize until closer to the end. Chess is a huge element in this film, and at first you will not see this, but by the end it will hit you like a brick. The power that Jackson brings to this young boy's mind simply by teaching him the strategies of chess is insurmountable. While I thought that Yakin was just trying to define the father/son relationship with this game, there was so much more going on underneath the top layer that I wasn't expecting it from this small title. I think that is what impressed me so much.

Overall, this film is great. It is boldly honest and originally beautiful (in repetition of myself) that needs to be re-released or remembered time after time. I am so glad that I discovered it and cannot wait to show it to friends and family. It is nothing short of the perfect film!

Grade: ***** out of *****
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10/10
Boy in the 'Hood
jotix10028 January 2005
Boaz Yakin, the enormously talented writer/director of "Fresh" has done the impossible, a real movie about real things that offers a sharp contrast with other films about the subject we have seen before. Mr. Yakin working with what appears to be a cast of non professional actors, mainly, presents a gripping tale of life in the ghetto that will probably be a classic in this genre.

If you haven't seen the film, please stop reading now.

Fresh is the young boy at the center of the action. We follow him as he runs illegal drugs for the dealers of his area. Fresh comes from a broken home where the mother is not around and the father is absent from the picture. His kind aunt Frances has gathered about a dozen youngsters in the home she shares with her mother, who is the grandmother of all of them. In spite of the poor surroundings, this is a decent home.

Fresh probably learned quickly in his young life he must be a step ahead of the drug dealers and their henchmen in order to survive in that world. It's a heavy trip for a young child to deal with in his own life and still have a head in his shoulders. What Fresh does, of course, is illegal, but this is a determined young man that is looking for a better future in spite of what he sees around him.

Fresh loves to play chess. We watch him win games in Washington Square Park over more skilled players. Sam, his absent father, is a master of the game. Sam teaches his son the game and how to think the way the champions do. Sam is a highly intelligent man who has had the misfortune of falling victim to the bottle. His son, admires him but bears a resentment against him for abandoning him and Nicole, his sister. One thing is sure, Sam always wins when he plays Fresh. Only after all the big events at the end of the film, Fresh beats the old man up. In doing so, we see tears coming out of him because maybe then, Fresh realizes the enormity of the events he's been involved in, and the fact that his father, in yelling at him, perhaps shows the boy how much he cares for him.

There is a scene in the film involving pit bull fighting that will make, even the coolest viewer cringe. Fresh's dog wins a match, but it is a menace that has to be put to sleep. The scene where Fresh hangs the dog by his collar is one of the most horrible things we watch in the movie. Fresh is venting his frustration at a dog he clearly loved, but now he cannot keep.

The acting by all the principals is first rate. The only problem is that sometimes some of what he hear in the dialog is incomprehensible because of the use of street slang most of the viewers don't know. Sean Nelson makes a perfect Fresh. He is one of the most natural actors we have seen in a while. The lack of formal training works out as we watch a portrayal that is devoid of any mannerisms, or other cute poses that someone with more experience would have done with this role.

Samuel L. Jackson makes another incredible appearance as Fresh's father Sam. Mr. Jackson's take on this man is an excellent example why he is on of the best actors working in films today. Giancarlo Esposito as Esteban, the nasty drug dealer, adds another great role to his brilliant film career.

Adam Holender, the cinematographer, has given the film the right look. The dreamy scenes where Fresh is seen looking toward Manhattan at different times of the day, is pure poetry. This is an important movie dealing with an important subject. Thanks to Mr. Yakin, we go into that world that, for some of us, might as well be in another continent, but never right here in another part of town!
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10/10
The very, very best of modern drama
Talib_Kweli_Fan4 June 2001
This is simply an incredible film. Deeply thought provoking, it is not for those of you who like your films to have guns, sex and violence. This is NOT a typical 'hood' film - there are no banging hiphop beats, no flash cars, and no cheesy action scenes.

It tells the story of a clever 12 year old brought up in a culture of danger, mistrust and urban decay. Sean Nelson displays a maturity which would guarantee any adult actor many millions a film, and the film never wavers from the incredibly high standards set by its fabulous scripting and casting.

The storyline is oddly compelling throughout, and never veers either towards the 'nannying' line that plagues so many drugs films, or the insane satire that kills off others. It moves at a healthy, but not crazy pace, and there are some truly chilling moments, which really make you ponder over humanity's capacity for mindless violence.

This is certainly the best film I have ever had the pleasure of seeing, and I advise anyone who craves intelligent, thoughtful films to go out and buy this one.
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10/10
This is the best drama I have EVER seen
WestSider30 April 2001
This film will completely astound you. Unspoiled by the gangsta rap, and glamorisation of street culture that normally pervades a 'black' film, it tells the story of the 12-year old, chess-playing, drug-dealing streetwise genius, Fresh.

Living in poverty with 11 others in his aunt's house, and using his wits to survive, he slowly gets trapped deeper and deeper in the world of drugs, a world in which all his loyalties are challenged.

Most 'hood films either satirise black culture completely with their loud, cool attitudes, or on the other become touchy-feely anti-drugs schmaltz. This is the ONLY film I have seen to tread the thin line between them and come away looking not only credible, but superbly enjoyable.

Both Giancarlo Esposito (the smooth talking drugs dealer) and Samuel L. Jackson (the alcoholic chess-master tramp) give strong, realistic performances in challenging roles. The other characters (like N'Bushe Wright's portrayal of Fresh's sister) are also incredibly well played, and every single one of them is believable.

However, the main credit HAS to go to Sean Nelson. I have never seen such a dignified performance, and i can honestly say that I was AMAZED at how involving the film was. You could empathise with him every step of the way. He was never overly emotional, yet never came across as being arrogant and calculating. He plays the 'streetwise genius' role to perfection, again, remaining completely credible.

The script was also fantastic. Full marks to Boaz Yakin for such an accurate picture of life in the ghetto. This is not a film for those who want the cheap formulaic thrills of violence, sex and guns that are so prevalent today. There are no special effects, no overly violent scenes. Instead, the movie relies on superb acting and a relentless drive for gritty realism.

I cannot recommend this film enough to anyone who appreciates drama - it will really open your eyes.
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9/10
Great Movie
jtfsouth14 April 2000
This movie didn't have to rely on BIG NAMES to make this movie great. It didn't have to rely on lots of on screen killing to be great. This movie was great because the dialog between the characters as well as the screen play were excellent all by themselves. The people who did play the parts DID justice to the characters they played. As the movie started and in the first 15 minutes, all I could think was this kid (Sean Nelson) was a punk trying to make a buck. I didn't realize, like most, until the end of the film what this kid was actaully doing, which was playing everyone like they were live chess pieces. He got what he wanted all by playing one against the other. This movie proved that a film does not have to be high budget or big names to be great. If that were the case, The Last Action Hero or Reindeer Games should win an OSCARS for Best Movie.
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Multilayered chess puzzle
gizmiak21 March 2004
Many comments confirm the strength of this movie in simple manipulation of an camera eye. Well, that's true. You will not find any fancy FXs here. But, does it make the picture less spectacular? Of course not. Script is brilliant. Whole plot resembles well played chess game telling the story about violence and losing innocence. This is not only a game in an explicit chess meaning. Main characters , wonderfully played by S. L. Jackson and Sean Nelson, are playing chess with themselves, struggling with their lives. There is another aspect of chess game that accompanies the plot till the end. Throughout duration of the movie chess puzzle gets clear. We can finally see where 'Fresh' is heading to and what he wants to achieve through his plan. Anyway, Boaz Yakin made one of the best movies of 94' , really worth seeing.

Mariusz Pelka
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Best of its genre
ah`Pook13 October 1999
I watched 'Fresh' again recently, with several other examples of

its genre (urban crime drama, or words to that effect). It

stands out head and shoulders above the rest as an engaging and

intelligent film. Part of 'Fresh's strength is that it belies

many of the genre's expected conventions. Rap music is vaguely

incidental, giving way to a poignant soundtrack by Stewart

Copeland. For once, gang life, alcoholism, and drug addiction

are never glamourized as they are simultaneously condemned...

the fault of so many films which purport to be morally aware of

the destructive nature of these things (but seem to say,

backhandedly, "isn't T-Bone a badd mutha, though?") And as

another reviewer noted, the central character as an intellectual

prodigy is neither a joke nor a gimmick, his mind is the means

of his survival and eventually his triumph over the forces

around him. The cast is excellent, the standouts being an

extraordinary debut by Sean Nelson as the Fresh and the reliable

Samuel L. Jackson as his alcoholic speed-chess-master father.

The final scene is one of the most devastating and memorable

scenes in the last decade of films. The sincerity and unpredictability of 'Fresh' are unparalleled in films of its

type.
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7/10
Checkmate!
=G=14 August 2003
"Fresh" (Nelson), the title character and a black kid in his early teens, is a runner for low level drug distributors in the mean streets of NYC with a plan to get out of the ghetto. He plays speed chess with his estranged father and stashes money in a tin can but his plan goes well beyond just saving for a bus ticket. "Fresh" offers good production value, par performances, somewhat stereotypical characters, and lots of grit. However, what sets this critically lauded flick apart from its peers is a human drama with a clever storyline which transcend the usual stuck-in-the-ghetto flicks full of sensational crime stuff. An engaging watch for those into drug/ghetto/crime flicks. (B)
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can you say authenticity??
whoTheFuqRyou3 June 2003
Fresh was a very unique movie, the opening montage was great and the dialogue was so realistic to the point where li'l kids in the ghetto are talkin' about bein' rich and Scarsdale, NY which really impressed me 'cause Scarsdale is a rich neighborhood. Sean Nelson in a great role as Fresh the young drug dealer who's livin' in a home with 10-11 other relatives and has to move crack in order to survive. N'Bushe Wright shows up in her most depressing role as Fresh's under-confident sister - you really feel sorry for her in this as well as a few others. Giancarlo Esposito is cool to watch as Esteban, A drug dealer that looks out for Fresh and the other top-tier performance comes in the form of Ron Brice as Corky the other drug dealer who is ruthless and demands that you do what you have to while he's looking and not behind his back. We already know Samuel L. Jackson would give a good performance that's no surprise at all.

Good story about the ghetto life and the drug game from the eyes of those around it. The ending in this epitomizes the saying "every man for himself"

another gunshot in the air for the ghetto genre 10/10
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10/10
The perfect accident
jlm-63 August 2003
Perfect accident because as director Yakin explains, while casting, he almost overloooked Sean Nelson for the part of Fresh and then there would have been no Fresh.

Perfect accident because, tired of Hollywood, Yakin had almost given up on ever making something he felt he could identify with, till friend and producer Lawrence Bender hit the jackpot with Reservoir Dogs and made space for Fresh to be born.

Perfect accident because former The Police-drummer Stewart Copeland writes a beautiful non-rap score that frees Fresh from becoming just another political statement about inner-city living conditions, yet highlights the sparkle and charm of the characters.

Perfect accident because the mastery of Samuel Jackson and Giancarlo Esposito blend to perfection with the innocence of such a young cast.

Perfect accident because Boaz Yakin - away from the constraints of major league production (THANKS AGAIN MIRAMAX and French producers Lumière!!) was able to smash this trash some call Political Correctness to pieces and tell a great story, the way he felt it, not caring where he trod, unafraid of those susceptible-many who confuse storytelling with an accusatory poke in the ribs.

I honestly don't see how such thrilling honest and human films will ever be made while US citizens keep sending signals to Hollywood that all they want is something brainless to go along with their soda and popcorn. Take drugs! They're far more effective and leave cinema to those who want to use their imagination.
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9/10
Perfectly Fantastic
ivony14 September 2003
I have very little criticism for the movie Fresh. There just isn't really anything there TO criticize. This movie is one of the few that is close to cinematic perfection...yes, it's THAT good.

Young Michael (or Fresh) witnesses the horrors of street life every day. His mother is gone, his father is a virtual bum, he loses his friends to violence, his sister is a prostitute, and he is a runner for the drug lords of his neighborhood. Not surprisingly, Fresh isn't content with his lifestyle and is determined to make life better not only for him, but for his sister as well.

The movie sounds like a standard cliche film, but this is far from the truth. Fresh is a breath of fresh air in the realm of movie redundancy and predictability. There is no overacting, use of gratuitous violence or sex, or unbelievable plots to spoil this little gem. Young Sean Nelson is as gifted as any veteran actor and carries this movie on his small shoulders. Yes, he is simply *that* good. Fortunately, he is supported by a fabulous cast in Samuel Jackson as his father, N'Bushe Wright as his prostitue sister, and Giancarlo Esposito as the local drug dealer.

There are no big budget shootouts, no computer enhanced scenes, or ridiculously cliche special effects. No, Fresh relies on the very basics of moviemaking: acting, plot, setting, and direction. And it succeeds where so many others have failed.

All of this is woven into an intelligent and entertaining movie that is as close to perfection as Pulp Fiction. Undoubtedly, it is that good.

Fresh earns a 10 out of 10 stars rating and I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys seeing what movies SHOULD be.
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7/10
Unusual
ctomvelu113 July 2013
This slice of ghetto life is like nothing else I ave seen. A young drug runner decides he wants out of the life. He also wants to save his sister, who has taken up with one of the kid's drug kingpins. In order to get out, he has to do some pretty fancy footwork. But he is a master strategist as we see when he plays chess with his dad. Wonderful location photography and acting, with a large cast of mostly unknown actors except for Sam Jackson as the dad and Giancarlo Esposito as the drug kingpin. The plot doesn't necessarily go in the direction you might think. There is a fair amount of violence, but most of it is off camera or quickly cut away from.
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3/10
this is not a spoiler this is how i feel about this movie
jessellymstudent27 September 2017
people online are giving this movie good and bad reviews. what this movie did good was the shooting,fresh meeting his father. One thing i wouldn't do in this movie is shoot the dog because the dog didn't do anything. this movie shows how teenagers use violence to show that they are tough. it takes place in the 80s and 90s. the saddest part of this movie was when fresh started crying to his father but he did what he had to do. this movie would of been better if he didn't kill the dog cause i think that not right for a innocent animal to die.
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Excellent cross of "hood" movie and thriller with great delivery across acting, score, cinematography and direction
bob the moo10 April 2012
If you will allow me a personal moment, Fresh was one of the films that I saw at a time when I was really in love with film. I had just moved to England in 1995 and had gone from being a 20 minute drive to a small multiplex chain cinema, to being a 5 minute walk away from the Light House independent cinema in Wolverhampton. Not only was it close but it was cheap and I would regularly go there to see films big and small. I was lucky because this rough period was throwing up things like Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction and many other really strong films. Fresh was one of these and I remembered thinking it was great but, not having seen it since, I wasn't sure if maybe the period in my life was also giving it a rose-tinted memory in my head.

I watched it again last night and did so as a different person – 35 instead of 18, living comfortably instead of a struggling student; regardless of time and place though, the film still gripped me from start to finish and justifies my memory of it being an excellent film. The plot starts out as a "ghetto" film that fits into the genre of the early 90's (Menace II Society, Boyz n the Hood etc) but then in the middle it becomes much more of a thriller where young Fresh tries to turn the table on his dealing employers in revenge for the murder of one of his friends. Both parts of the film work equally well and merge into each other seamlessly. Just like the construction of the city environment in the opening titles, the film builds on the details and at times the viewer will be a few steps behind Fresh in terms of his plan. It is a dangerous game and there are quite brutal moments in it, but these just help up the tension, of which there is lots.

Yakin directs really well throughout the film and is aided by excellent cinematography, capturing a sense of place really well. The patient orchestral score also fits with this and the slower pace that it can at times have, however all of these qualities (however good they are) tend to get lost in the background of the praise because front and centre is a terrific performance from a very young Sean Nelson. He is the heart of the film and the ability to deliver his character is key – and he nails it. Fresh isn't on a moral quest for what is right, he is very much on a personal mission and he does it by playing cynically with those around him, making sacrifices of both himself and of them. It is a great performance throughout and it is hard to imagine anyone else but him in that role – perfect bit of casting. That he stands up on his own with such a strong support cast is also impressive. Esposito is great despite hamming up his accent and his abs a little bit – amusing to watch this character back through the filter of Breaking Bad as well! Jackson was pushing to the front on the DVD cover due to Pulp Fiction's success, but he is only in a small role, albeit a good one. Beyond them La Marre, Brice, Wright and others are also good.

Almost twenty years old, Fresh is an excellent film that is well made across the board as both a hood movie and a thriller – my memory was not faded, this is a great film.
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10/10
Excellent!
supersam03212 October 2006
The modern day "Through the Looking Glass". Enough said. But because of requirements here is a bit more. I caught this movie midway through in the middle of the night on one of the movie channels. I was intrigued by the honesty of the characters, the lines, and the idea of Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo. Fresh, as he is known, is a boy dealing with the harsh realities of inner city life and a broken family but rises above his circumstances although he is walking in them. This movie is a drama and a thriller. Just a heads up- there is a lot of brash language and situations but none gratuitous and no glamorization of crime. I found it to be a deep, thoughtful, heart-wrenching tale of the realities of life's circumstances and how one little hero overcame through the wisdom of chess.
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10/10
I have seen the movie before BUT NOT LIKE THIS
dasked23 July 2006
Hi all.

I have seen this movie before and it didn't touch me then. Now 10 years after, much have happened in my life.

Now I was touched all the way into my bones. What a movie. So real. So cruel. So a world of drugs and feelings blended to, much death and some hope. A hope so strong that nothing breaks through.

Like life. A road is to be decided. You, other decide. All life will be affected by your choices. This movie contains 2 well known highways along your journey of decisions.

Thanks for a great experience on my journey around.

D. Severinsen
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10/10
Very dark and Real masterpiece
dsablaze1862 May 2003
This movie both surprised and impressed me for all the right reasons. I noticed that the acting from Sean Nelson as Fresh was amazing, totally unfaltering. That kid must be from a bad area! There are very good performances from everyone involved especially Giancarlo Esposito. I don't really notice good acting unless it is truly excellent and in this case there is no doubt about that. The look of everyone and the area ( BK or the Bronx NY, i think?) was real convincing unlike many other ghetto movies.

The story encompasses a young black kid being a runner for drug dealers in NY working his way up, while the whole time he hates them and forms an elaborate plot to f*** them all up for their evil deeds!!! That is quite a poor summary I must admit but I can assure you the plot is very good, and not cliched like my summary might suggest.

Films do not get much better.
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10/10
One of the best of the 90's or any other decade - exceptional.
mbfrank9 January 2000
This movie did a lot for me and it is my hope that other new viewers will feel the same. The proof of the power of the film grabs you from the beginning with the simple musical texture of the film score by Stewart Copeland coupled with the piece by piece layering of the street scenery. It is unique and perfect, revealed as an even more appropriate detail to the movie as more of the plot themes are revealed. The main character in the movie, Fresh, is played by a really exceptional young actor, Sean Nelson, who manages to steal scenes from two of my other favorite actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Giancarlo Esposito. I am trying to remember the other movies that came out in 1994 and recall why one as powerful as this one would not receive much consideration for the Academy Awards that year. It was a good year for movies - Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption (7 nominations but no Oscars), Ed Wood, Hoop Dreams (received no nominations), and on a lesser scale Forrest Gump (which you'll recall received the majority of Oscars) - but regardless, 'Fresh' should have been recognized even amongst that competition. The sad truth realized from all this is that voting is usually conducted along "white" lines based upon publicity, demographics and exposure rather than upon "quality" lines.

Accusations have been thrown out there a number of times in the past and unfortunately the majority of those accusations are true. I used to deny the possibility for bias when movies like 'Amistad' received attention for not getting its share, but the difference there was that 'Amistad' was not a good movie and 'Fresh' was an exceptional movie. The two are united only by their "non-white" content and not by their level of quality.

Also a surprise for me is the background of the writer-director, Boaz Yakin. He is not African-American yet the dialogue of his characters holds an authenticity of the New York streets which is phenomenal. I understand his next movie concerns Orthodox Jewish characters, leading me to my final question - Who is this guy and where did he come from? No matter.
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10/10
Extraordinary film, a must see
Wot-219 February 1999
Fresh is a stunningly original story, that at first seems merely some sort of ordinary, ugly gangster/drug pusher flick -- but that is just the setting. Half way through the film the story shifts, its disparate elements come together, and you realize that everything has been very carefully laid out. The script is intelligent, the acting superb, the direction sublime.

You can watch the film come together time and again, with fascination. One of the ten best films of the decade.
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9/10
Shocking good!!!!
anton-610 October 2001
This film was one of those films which I didn´t expect much of but it was very good.I first saw this with my brother a couple of years ago and I don´t use to like this sort of films(Boyz N the hood Menace to society.....)but I liked it much more then my brother did,even if he loved those "hood" films at that time.The film has a low budget but one big star:SEAN NELSON!!! His acting is fantastic.The best parts of the film is when Fresh plays chess with his dad(Samuel L. Jackson).Also very good music by Stewart Copeland.Fresh is a intelligent gangster drama.4,5 out of 5
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10/10
FOR ALL Y'ALL MENACE II SOCIETY LOVERS OR HATERS...
thricea21 May 2001
The tag-line for this movie in no way does justice to this superb look at the not so ghetto-fabulous world of Fresh. There is portrayal without judgement that does not demonise black people, black men, Fresh or his sister. What is supremely enchanting about Fresh is the spirit of love that survives under such precarious conditions. Fresh's determination to leave the drug culture behind and take his sister with him, masks the fact that he is only a child. He is the only male to tell his sister that she is loved. We only see his vulnerability and pain at the very end, facing a father who does not know how to hold his own child.

This is the best film I have seen in a long time. It is not clichéd and avoids a minefield of ghetto stereotypes. Drug and gang culture is not glorified but realised as real and tragic. For all y'all Menace II Society and New Jack City lovers or haters you have to see this... you might learn something.
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10/10
Seriously superb film. Cannot get it out of my mind
stuhodes30 January 2000
I was not prepared for so fine a film. Perhaps one never is prepared for true excellence. It presented a world into which most can never go, but a world where other filmmakers pretend to take us. Only Spike Lee's films have given me a sense that I am getting a glimpse of this intense and intensely human world, yet Lee's films are so dramatic I'm always aware that it is a story being told, even if by a master storyteller. "FRESH" seemed to unroll before me as if happening then and there. I remain moved, shocked, amazed.
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7/10
Good, but not great
Keltic-226 September 1998
I enjoyed _Fresh_, in particular the way the repeated image of chess and chess players mirrors Fresh's machinations. However, I found it very difficult to empathise much with Fresh, apart from one or two scenes. Here we have a kid who we see dealing drugs and running errands for dealers and wheeling and dealing in a *very* adult manner; in light of this the ending was, for me, more than a little unbelievable. Overall though, I found the film enjoyable.
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1/10
Blaxploitation At Its Worst
luvley23812 August 2007
This had to be one of the worst written movies i've ever seen. I am highly insulted by the ridiculous/fake dialogue. These people are supposed to be in New York. The sad attempt at 'ghetto slang,' and so-called realistic portrayal of 'life on the streets' makes my stomach turn. I am from the Bronx. Most of my family is from NYC. And my childhood/adolescence took part in the Bronx in the early 90s. As a black person I am offended. This movie is a prime example of why movies like 'Hollywood Shuffle' were created--to exploit offensive movies like this. I'm so tired of movies trying to normalize this type of sick behavior. this is where stereotypes come from. And if you believe the lifestyles presented in this movie are realistic scenarios, you're an idiot. Get over it.

and by the way, the plot sucked. I'd have to write another post to address that...

oh, and that little Spanish kid--"She be likin you Homes...I'm kickin the stupid dope moves"?!? what the heck?!? are they in fake south central or fake new york? No one talks like that. seriously, homes.

everyone sucked--from sam jackson to fresh to his crack-ho sister. they can't possibly be proud of this movie.
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