Paid in Full (2002)

Paid in Full (2002)
  • Time: 97 min
  • Genre: Drama | Action | Crime
  • Director: Charles Stone III
  • Cast: Wood Harris, Mekhi Phifer, Kevin Carroll, Chi McBride


Ace is an impressionable young man working for a dry cleaning business. His friend, drug dealer Mitch goes to prison. In an unrelated incident, he finds some cocaine in a pants pocket. Soon, Ace finds himself dealing cocaine for Lulu. Via lucky breaks and solid interpersonal skills, Ace moves to the top of the Harlem drug world. Of course, unfaithful employees and/or rivals conspire to bring about Ace’s fall.

One comment

  • ‘Paid in Full’ is based on the 80’s true life story of Harlem drug lords Alpo, A.Z. and Rich Porter, yet appears so ordinary and generic that it could be based on any black ‘hood’ style drug lords. Harlem itself doesn’t even play out as a character in the story. It could be based anywhere. Drugs and in particular dealing them serves as a way of life for these people, but as an ends to what? I ask.

    Wood Harris plays Ace a dry cleaner who witnesses, first hand, the flashy cars and bling that pass by his shop window every day. These pushers command respect within his playground, a status he secretly harbours himself. Following a chance meeting with LuLu he gets the chance to sell the best coke around and fill the void caused by his best friend Mitch’s incarceration. You haven’t got to have seen ‘Boyz n’ the Hood’ or ‘Menace to Society’ to know that this kind of drug dealing existence will only end in tears. You just need to care, unfortunately I did not.

    I’ve heard people state that this is a realistic take on this kind of lifestyle, with wholly believable characterisations, well it’s so far removed from what I’ve experienced in my English upbringing that I’ll have to take him at his word. I can’t bemoan the lack of budget for why I felt this movie suffered its biggest failings. The characters seemed underdeveloped, as a result I never really cared for any of them. The women appear as little more than sex objects, only a few ‘fleeting’ scenes between Harris’ character and his girlfriend hint at any real tenderness. Things just happen in this movie with no real explanation as to what really went on?

    Director Charles Stone III draws attention to ‘Paid in Full’s’ subtlety by inserting shots from De Palma’s more than over the top ‘Scarface’, a movie forever popular with crack barons the world over. The cast do a pretty good job to be fair, especially the three leads, my issues are with the writing and characters, I just didn’t care enough to buy into its central message. Did it even have one?

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