Director: Hype Williams
Stars: DMX, Nas, Taral Hicks, Method Man, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Tyrin Turner, Oliver “Power” Grant, Hassan Johnson, Louie Rankin
A critic's take: “Belly is a film that begs for a pat on the head for its virtue while catering to cinematic tastes more interested in crotch shots, topless dancers, wall-sized television screens, ganja galore and, wherever possible, crime without punishment, all to the accompaniment of a high-octane soundtrack.” - Lawrence Van Gelder (The New York Times)
Why it's bad (meaning good): Some people will tell you that Belly doesn’t deserve to be on this list, and they’ll most likely cite Hype Williams’ visual flair as the movie’s best asset. To which we’d say, “True, Hype and his cinematographer really did their things with this one.” Who didn’t do their respective things, however, were the main actors and the screenwriter, who altogether combined to downgrade Belly into a weakly performed knockoff of every gangster movie classic that predated it.
Taking recognizable imagery and sequence set-ups from flicks like Scarface and Goodfellas, Belly is devoid of one single original thought—it’s the cinematic equivalent of rappers sampling older, beloved songs to make hit records. The thing is, as much as we love Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” we really love Biggie’s “Mo Money Mo Problems,” and in the same spirit Belly’s shark-like bites are ultimately dismissible.
As for Nas’ sleepwalker performance, however, that’s not as easily forgivable. Nothing says “Go to acting school, homie” more than the scene in which God’s Son catches a bullet and says, in complete Napoleon Dynamite drollness, “Yo, I’ve been shot.”