Paid in Full (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Paid in Full (2002)



Critic Consensus: Though well-acted and non-exploitative, Paid in Full treads a very well-worn story.

Paid in Full Photos

Movie Info

Paid in Full marks the feature debut of director Charles Stone III, who rose to fame after creating Budweiser's "Wassup" commercials. The urban gangster drama is loosely based on the true story of 1980s Harlem drug kingpins AZ, Rich Porter, and Alpo. (This story was also the basis for a documentary, Game Over (Part 1).) Ace (Wood Harris) works at a laundromat, struggling to get by, while his friend Mitch (Mekhi Phifer) lives the high life selling heroin. His sister's boyfriend, Calvin (Kevin Carroll) also sells drugs, and looks down on Ace for struggling to earn a living. Out delivering laundry one day, Ace meets Lulu (Esai Morales), a big time coke dealer, who lives better than anyone Ace has ever known. When Lulu leaves some coke in the pocket of a coat he's having cleaned, Ace returns it to him, and Lulu rewards him for his honesty by letting him keep the drugs. When Calvin gets busted, Ace hesitantly takes his place in the neighborhood, and starts working for Lulu. As the crack business takes off, Ace finds himself making more money than he knows what to do with. Mitch goes to jail for a short time, where another inmate, Rico (rapper Cam'ron in his acting debut), defends him in a fight. By the time Mitch gets out of prison, Ace is running the neighborhood. Ace makes Mitch his right-hand man, and when Rico gets out of jail, he joins the crew. The drugs and money flow, and Ace tries to keep everyone happy, but there are some who want what's his, and will stop at nothing to get it. Paid in Full was shown at the 2002 Urbanworld Film Festival.

Watch it now


as Rico
Elise Neal
as Aunt June
Pedro Salvin
as Columbian Man No. 1
Ramon Marroquin
as Columbian Man No. 2
Bruce Robinson
as The World Famous Brucie B
Jonas Chernick
as Detective/Surgeon
as Mitch's Friend
Jason Burke
as Street Runner
Chris Collins
as Kid No. 1
Tyson Hall
as Customer
as D.C. No. 1
Martin Roach
as D.C. No. 2
as Runner
Eduardo Gómez
as Columbian No. 3
Anthony Clark
as Rico's Buddy No. 1
Michael Pope
as Rico's Buddy No. 2
Busy Bee
as Himself
Khalida Outlaw
as Homegirl on the Street
Terrance Telfair
as Neutral Kid
Derrick Simmons
as Taunting Guy
Damon Dash
as Cruiser
Angela Martinez
as Girl in Car
Hassan Johnson
as Accomplice
Jermaine Lloyd
as Money Counter
Clarence Fok Yiu-leung
as Dancer/Roller Choreographer
View All

Critic Reviews for Paid in Full

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (18)

I'm going to give it a marginal thumbs up. I liked it just enough.

October 29, 2002

This familiar rise-and-fall tale is long on glamour and short on larger moralistic consequences, though it's told with sharp ears and eyes for the tenor of the times.

October 25, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Needed a little less bling-bling and a lot more romance.

October 25, 2002 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Rings true, from the smooth dialogue to the unaffected performances of the central actors.

October 25, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4

A fake street drama that keeps telling you things instead of showing them.

October 25, 2002 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

It does offer an uncommon thoughtfulness that makes it far less exploitative or sensationalistic than most examples of its genre.

October 25, 2002

Audience Reviews for Paid in Full


Paid in Full has a gritty realistic quality that is excellent in its' world building. It's well acted by largely unknowns, and succeeds in painting a real picture of Harlem without making it glamorous. The pacing, however is uneven, with the film seemingly dragging at points. More time should also have been devoted to fleshing out some of the characters. Still, its realism reminded me of The Wire, the greatest crime show ever.

Jeffrey Meyers
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer

Paid in Full Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features