This debut offering from twin brothers Albert and Allen Hughes was one of the most critically-acclaimed urban crime films to appear in the wake of John Singleton's influential Boyz N the Hood. Set in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, the film is narrated by 18-year-old Caine (Tyrin Turner), a drug dealer and car thief who lives with his religious grandparents. After graduating from high school, Caine shows no ambition beyond hanging out with his friends, so his grandparents kick him out. Among his other troubles are his best friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate), a vicious thug hunted by the police, and the friends and family of the girl Caine got pregnant and then turned his back on. Perhaps the lone positive influence in his sphere is Ronnie (Jada Pinkett), a single parent struggling to raise her young son without the boy falling prey to the 'hood mentality. When their friendship becomes a love affair, Ronnie tries desperately to convince Caine to move with her to Atlanta; soon afterward, he is shot and nearly dies. After recovering, he accepts Ronnie's offer, but tragedy strikes as they pack their van in preparation to leave.
Tyrin Turner - Caine Lawson
Jada Pinkett Smith - Ronnie
Vonte Sweet - Sharif
Larenz Tate - O-Dog
Ryan Williams - Stacy
Samuel L. Jackson - Tat Lawson
Charles S. Dutton - Mr. Butler
Glenn Plummer - Pernell
Bill Duke - Detective
Tony Valentino - Vato3
Toshi Toda - Grocery Store Man
Rolando Molina - Vato 1
Reginald Ballard - Clyde
Nancy Cheryl Davis - Teacher
Yo-Yo - Girl at Party
Brandon Hammond - Five year old Caine
Eugene Lee - Man 1
Chad Dowdell - White Guy in Street (uncredited)
Marilyn Coleman - Grandmama
Julian Roy Doster - Anthony
Robert Gonzales - Car Dealer
Christopher M. Brown - Lloyd
Khandi Alexander - Karen Lawson
Clifton Powell - Chauncey
Michael Kelly - Officer Gadd
James Pickens, Jr. - Man
Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez - Vato 2
Arnold Johnson - Grandpapa
Anthony Johnson - Tony