Deep Cover (VHS, 1992)

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Deep Cover: Undercover Noir Classic

Dec 8, 2000 (Updated Apr 1, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Fishburne, Goldblum, Plot, Script, Photography, Soundtrack

Cons:Bimbo Alert: Victoria Dillard

The Bottom Line: Larry Fishburne's best role. Superlative sound track. Watch this!


Deep Cover (1992)

Larry Fishburne lends unexpected weight to his role as a undercover police officer who almost forgets which side heís on in Deep Cover.

The movie opens with a small boy witnessing the killing of his father as he robs a liquor store. That boy is Russell Stevens, who vows never to get involved in crime as his father was.

Next, we see federal agent Carver (Charles Martin Smith) interviewing potential candidates for an undercover drug operation. All are uniformed police officers, all are black. The agentís question is simple, to each candidate he asks, "Do you know the difference between a black man and a n!gger?" and receives varying responses. Fishburne (Officer Russell Stevens) answering, "The n!ger's the one that would even answer that question." Apparently, that was the right answer as Carver offers him the position.

Stevens goes undercover using the alias "John Hull." He quickly descends into the underworld and meets plenty of interesting characters among the druggies of Los Angeles. Hull is a drug dealer and must play the role looking for Mr. Big. Russell becomes hooked up with a medium-weight drug dealer named David Jason (Jeff Goldblum). Jasonís idea is to make enough money to finance a new designer drug of his own. He enlists Hull to help him as he is a very heavy character, and everybody knows the drippy Goldblum couldnít whip his way out of a wet paper bag.

Jasonís front includes a trendy art gallery, staffed by sexpot Betty (Victoria Dillard). Hull has some banter with Betty, who begins by spurning him; later heís boffing her eyes out. In the meantime, Hull is actually selling drugs, the money is coming in, bullets are flying and connections to bigger fish are starting to come through. Hull witnesses a murder and then performs one himself to rid himself of a rival drug dealer. When he comes to his senses, he realizes heís in deeper than he ever thought he would be. You will have to watch the rest so that you get the full impact of this stylish thriller. I guarantee you will want to watch it again.

Deep Cover is a stylish production, sort of a new wave film noir, directed by Bill Duke and far superior to the usual blaxploitation flick that it is usually lumped with in the video store. The reason to see Deep Cover is for the superior photography, including many nifty visual touches and the hip hop soundtrack that puts it right in the barren reaches of East LA. Listen for Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre, among others. The dialogue is also very good, with Fishburne and Goldblum trading most of the good lines.

The real weighty performance comes from Fishburne, who does the heaviest lifting of his career, and secondarily from Goldblum, as the quirky guy who goes off the deep end. Goldblum also has never played a better part, with a wise-cracking, perky attitude that advances to full-blown mania before your eyes. Supporting cast is variable, from excellent to horrible. Gregory Sierra as Felix Barbosa is a big plus as the Colombian Mr. Big. Victoria Dillard, on the other hand, while easy on the eyes, is about the most wooden actress I have ever seen, far worse than many actresses that are disparagingly referred to as bimbos. Nevertheless, she still couldn't take away from Larry Fishburne's heavyweight performance.

If you like a good police drama with some unconventional twists, Deep Cover is the film to watch.




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