Once In The Life

Laurence Fishburne not only produced and directed this downbeat urban fable, he adapted the script from his own 1994 stage play Riff Raff. The good news is that Fishburne also stars, and has recruited a talented group of actors to flesh out the cast; the bad news is that no one seems to have been on hand to help out with the rest of film. New York City...read more

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Laurence Fishburne not only produced and directed this downbeat urban fable, he adapted the script from his own 1994 stage play Riff Raff. The good news is that Fishburne also stars, and has recruited a talented group of actors to flesh out the cast; the bad

news is that no one seems to have been on hand to help out with the rest of film. New York City scam artist and ex-con "20/20 Mike" Williams (Fishburne) may have a sixth sense when it comes to trouble, but it can't save him from landing in an NYPD holding tank on a parole violation, where he's

reunited with his estranged half-brother, Billy "Torch" Williams (Titus Welliver). Mike's gift also doesn't help him see that Torch is a serious junkie, and he proposes a little business between brothers. Mike has heard from a guy who goes by the name Freddie Nine Lives (Dominic Chianese Jr.)

about a upcoming delivery of heroin; all Mike and Torch have to do is beat the real recipient to the drop and walk away with the dope. But just as the deal is about to go down, Torch gets hinky and everything goes wrong: Torch has half his hand blown off, and he and Mike hole up in a rat-infested

squat. In a panic, Mike calls good friend and former cellmate Tony the Tiger (Eamonn Walker) for help, not realizing that Tony is hooked up with vicious drug dealer Manny Rivera (Paul Calderone), and that it was Tony's smack they snatched. Fishburne lights the lights, sets the mood and gives

everyone — rats included — solid motivation; suddenly, the movie loses focus and falls apart. Torch gets sick, Mike gets misty, Freddie tells jokes while he's being tortured and Tony agonizes over whether or not he can kill his best friend, in between recitations of a long, rude and

crude prison poem. Pity.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Laurence Fishburne not only produced and directed this downbeat urban fable, he adapted the script from his own 1994 stage play Riff Raff. The good news is that Fishburne also stars, and has recruited a talented group of actors to flesh out the cast; the b… (more)

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