The success of Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way ensures that the straight-to-DVD release of Carlito's Way: Rise to Power will attract an eager audience among fans of urban gangland melodramas. A stellar cast provides adequate compensation as this tame, relatively bloodless prequel trots out every cliché in the book, qualifying as the 21st-century equivalent of a Warner Bros. gangster programmer from the 1930s. The well-chosen cast of new and familiar faces is caught up in a standard plot of territorial tension in Harlem between the blacks led by Hollywood Nicky (Sean Combs, adding a touch of blingy humor), the old-school Mafia led by Artie Sr. (Burt Young), and the caught-in-the-middle Puerto Ricans who are gaining control as Carlito (Jay Hernandez, in the role Al Pacino originated) and his cross-cultural gang rises to power after his recent release from prison with cellmates and partners-in-crime Earl (Mario Van Peebles) and Rocco (Michael Kelly). They're a tight trio in a climate of mistrust and deception, and Earl's hot-headed brother (Mtume Grant) sets off a series of events that force Carlito to invent a clever alliance that raises the body count while ensuring his long-term status as a dude-you-don't-mess-with. It's fun, for what it's worth (and fans of De Palma's film will enjoy connecting events from one film to the other), but there's not a shred of originality in script or direction by Michael Scott Bregman, whose father Martin produced Carlito's Way. Still, there's something to be said for a gang picture that never promises more than it can deliver. On those terms, and with enough violence and strip-joint nudity to satisfy its generic prerequisites, Rise to Power is definitely worth a look. --Jeff Shannon
Fuck you and your self-righteous code of the goddamn streets. Did it pull you out of a 30 year stint in only 5 years? No, it didn't, I did. Did it get you acquitted 4 fucking times? No, it didn't, I did, so fuck you, fuck the streets, your whole goddamn world is this big, and there's only one rule, you save your own ass.
Sorry boys, all the stitches in the world can't sew me together again. Lay down... lay down. Gonna stretch me out in Fernandez funeral home on Hun and Ninth street. Always knew I'd make a stop there, but a lot later than a whole gang of people thought... Last of the Moh-Ricans... well maybe not the last. Gail's gonna be a good mom... New improved Carlito Brigante... Hope she uses the money to get out. No room in this city for big hearts like hers... Sorry baby, I tried the best I could, honest... Can't come with me on this trip, Loaf. Getting the shakes now, last call for drinks, bars closing down... Sun's out, where are we going for breakfast? Don't wanna go far. Rough night, tired baby... Tired...
I'm reloaded! Okay? Come on in here, you motherfuckers! Come on, I'm waitin' for ya! What, you ain't comin' in? Okay, I'm comin' out! Oh, you up against me now, motherfuckers! I'm gonna blow your fuckin' brains out! You think you're big time? You gonna fuckin' die big time! You ready? HERE COMES THE PAIN!
Hey Louie... Louie, your fuckin' chick's givin' you a handjob right in front of everybody. I got guests here, for christsake. People are eating.
No-you take it easy. You got any manners? You wanna fuck her, fuck her like a normal human being - take her in the bedroom.