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DEEP COVER (1992) Dir. Bill Duke. Written by Michael Tolkin and Henry Bean. Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum, Paunita Nichols, Clarence Williams III, Charles Martin Smith, Roger Guenever Smith, and Sydney Lassick.

 "The jungle creed says the strongest feed on any prey that it can. And I was branded beast at every feast before I ever became a man."

The story of John Hull's descent into deep cover as drug dealer for the DEA, eventual shunning of the DEA, and acceptance of his criminal nature is a slightly sprawling tale with a few entertaining missteps - Goldblum's scenery chewing - that is ultimately held together by Fishburne's fantastic performance and Bill Duke's steady direction. As one of the few films to even begin to dramatize the role of the US Government in the crack cocaine epidemic to hit Los Angeles in the eighties, even if it is peripheral to the main story, Deep Cover is a bit of a breath of fresh air in its portrayal of corruption at the government and agent level giving us a far more thorough character study than the average crime film. John Hull's story of corruption begins with him as a boy, witnessing his father's death in a failed liquor store robbery and then moves on to his recruitment by Charles Martin Smith's DEA agent Carver citing Hull's psychological profile as reading like that of a criminal, nevermind that Hull up until this moment is a teetotaler. It's important to note that Hull's innocence is a forced innocence, one held onto desperately by someone who knows what he could become if he were to let go of it and not one based in lack of experience or strong moral code. Still, it is the DEA that notices this truth and that corrupts Hull. It is not the streets, but his naivete that the Government has any moral high ground at all and it's a betrayal that is felt almost instantly by the viewer and Hull. From the moment he arrives in Los Angeles we know this is a story of a man slowly accepting his own nature and while he can rightly lay blame at the DEA for setting him on this course, it feels in a way like a necessary evil for Hull to reach the man he has become at the end of the film; an enlightened righteous father who knows that in the real world the law of the jungle is all there is and all the man-made laws that say otherwise are simply window-dressing, a buffer and false sense of safety and order for the masses and nothing more. Last but not least, Deep Cover's soundtrack gave the mainstream it's first taste of Snoop Doggy Dogg as he was known at the time courtesy of Dr. Dre's killer track Deep Cover (187).

 

 

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