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This film is nothing short of brilliant. Hype Williams made music videos prior to this. This would have been an amazing movie for a seasoned director, let alone someone in his position. An absolute classic. The way i see it, the story is timeless and important, it's well acted for the most part, especially considering the cast of non-actors, it's visually beautiful. Love it.
I liked it, even if it is kind of ghetto. Opening scene is one of my favorite opening scenes, right up there with Blow and Willy Wonka.
(*):
awesome cinematography!!
"Belly" is the first movie directed by famed music video director Hype Williams. This also happens to be one of the first DVDs I ever bought when I finally got a DVD player (I bought it in a 2-pack along with "Caught Up" starring Bokeem Woodbine.... don't expect a review on that movie though). I don't know, I loved 'Belly' but I know that this movie got trashed by critics and even hip hop movie critics, in whom this movie was more directed towards. I remember reading then-hip hop bible "The Source" and some editorial trashed the movie but I really don't know how this movie went wrong with so many. Many called this no more than an extended music video but honestly, like honestly? This movie was so much more and I could totally see where Hype was going with this... And because I'm a genius and real recognize real, I hold this movie in very high regard. It was a cinematic delight with the colors and angles and cinematography, and the story was well played out. I guess main actor Nas could have done a much better job in acting but you can't blame a rapper... they're just not good actors! Well, except for Will Smith, he's the man.

The movie was made around 1997/98 but it's set around the end of 1999, as Y2K approaches New York. It involves a group of friends, but primarily two best friends, Buns (DMX) and Sincere (Nas), who are fairly well off financially but the way they gain their funds is definitely illegal. The movie starts off when they enter into a night club and shoot up the office of the club owner, killing whoever was unfortunate enough to stand in their way. As the movie progresses we see that Sincere is becoming more and more spiritual and gets to be more of an intellectual, as Buns dives deeper and deeper into the crime world. The two remain friends although they do less and less of the same things together. Sincere wants to become a better husband to his lady (T-Boz) and a better father to their child, while Buns becomes more entangled with drug lords and gets in a mess with rival cartels. At the end, they both are forced to realize what's really worth giving a dang for in life.

I think people need to realize what the title of the movie means and why I think this is a very essential film. The title is "Belly" referring to the phrase "Belly of the Beast". Many people in urban, impoverished areas in the U.S. regard the streets as the Belly of the Beast, where life is rough, crime is high, and poverty is something everyone worries about. Although the movie seems a little extreme because the violence gets a little too intense, it's very much something people go through when they dive in too deep into the illegal world to get out of their poverty. Hype wasn't trying to glorify anything, that's why he gave the movie a real gritty and grimy look. He's giving off somewhat of a warning to the hip hop crowd. It's true that in rap music, drugs, guns and sex is glorified to a dangerous extent and Hype was trying to tell people to keep away from it before they get swallowed up. But in a sense, the movie is also about redemption and second chances, which a lot of people are looking for in life. I mean, why would anyone wanna trash something with a good message like that? And man, the movie is just beautiful!

I would say the worst part about the movie was definitely Nas's acting. He's my favorite rapper but he definitely needs to stick with the mic! But anyone who loves Nas would need to see this movie because he acted out a scene that he rapped about in one of his best songs from his debut album, "Illmatic". Just wait for that scene to come, it's cinematic beauty!

Overall, this movie deserves more credit than it got. Maybe it's more geared towards the urban hip hop crowd but I think anyone could appreciate the message. It's overall a positive message, and dangit, we need more positivity anyway. Buns baby!

"There's mad money out here, you tryin to get it?"
"Word up."
"You gonna bust your gun to get it?"
"Whatever yo."
"I hear you dawg."


Two friends who grew up in Queens New York find themselves in their mid twenties still doing whatever it takes to survive. One friend grasps that they have made a lot of money for where they are from, and it may be time to move onto bigger and better things. The other friend sees the money they have made as opening to additional opportunities. Some of those opportunities are good, some of them may lead to his death. The two friends will have to continue to work together to survive despite their conscious pulling them in two separate directions.

"Born by myself, die by myself."

Hype Williams, director of numerous music videos, delivers Belly in his directorial debut. The storyline for this film is intriguing and fell in line with Menace to Society and Boyz n' the Hood. The acting in this film was believable, but not outstanding. Williams utilized the voices and personas of the actors over their actual acting ability to create believable characters.

"Will you choose the light over the darkness?"

The opening club shooting under the black lights, Tommie's house, Keisha's conversation with the 16 year old, the PHD reference, the naked money counting sequence, the "scared" conversation, the escape from the police attempt in Omaha, all the scenes in Kingston, the strip club shootout, the restaurant shooting, the female assassin sequence, and the twelve year old on the park bench were amongst the better presented portions of the film.

"The fucking top dog with his throat slit from ear to ear."

Belly is a film that I found disappointing when I first viewed it in college. The soundtrack is outstanding, but it seemed to be trying too hard for my liking. However, upon a second viewing, I found Belly entertaining. Nas and DMX were utilized more for their charisma, and they presented the proper aura for their characters. Belly is worth watching for those who enjoy the gangster genre, but it is not worth owning.

"Now more than ever, I could see the error in our ways."

Grade: C+
big hype fan good movie
Visually it's awesome, and the intensity is there, but the story is just so weak I can't help but not consider this movie a failure.
A slick and stylistic movie but fails due to its plot and acting.
Very flashy cinematography that adds to the story extremely well. This movie gives you a look at the crazy life of some hustlers as they battle to make a life for themselves.