DEEP COVER comes at us like a shot from a gun. Forgotten for too long, often because it came out in the same year as RESERVOIR DOGS and just a year after BOYZ AND THE HOOD. These two films are abut a small portion of the films released in the age of New American cinema, that distracted us.  Interestingly though, you would need to look a generation earlier to see the influences on Bill Duke. A Cop under cover is often a marked man and that is exactly what Russell Stevens (Laurence Fishburne) is. He is undercover as “John Hull,” the partner of an ambitious legal eagle and bona fide coke trafficker (Jeff Goldblum) with a taste for death and money. But Stevens has something bigger as his target. His bosses also seem to have an eye on the big bosses at the end of the drug rainbow.

Marked by an imaginative use of colour, filter and frame. We are introduced to a world where petty crime is gone and murder, drug dealing and smuggling are central to the success of the operation. This marks out the classic troupe of violence and retribution. Good are few, bad are many. The drive to infiltrate and bring down a powerful Latin American drug ring is our set up but our pay off is more expansive. Is Stevens a good man? Fishburne plays him such. A better man. A better cop. An honest avenger in a world of money, violence, and power. These are royal Noir territory indeed and Duke produces a neon-soaked nightmare, with every frame. It is exceptional, ignored both in mainstream as in Black cinema but finally this character study about America, her political agenda and the disaster of the war on drugs, is exemplary.


4K restoration has a few light issues. Drawing the richer notes of red out and making it instead become a softer version. Though I suspect wholly not displeasing for Duke. Did I like it outside of that? Yes. Very much. Very, Very much indeed. Colour issues are gone for the most part and Sony deliver.


Listen to Duke. The flavours of his film are all in there. He is such an engaging man. I delighted in hearing his take on the film and his thoughts.


  • New 4K digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • New interview with director Bill Duke
  • AFI Conservatory seminar from 2018 featuring Duke and actor Laurence Fishburne, moderated by film critic Elvis Mitchell
  • New conversation between film scholars Racquel J. Gates and Michael B. Gillespie about Deep Cover’s place within both the Black film boom of the early 1990s and the noir genre
  • New conversation between scholar Claudrena N. Harold and professor, DJ, and podcaster Oliver Wang about the film’s title track and its importance to the history of hip-hop
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles

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