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ONCE IN THE LIFE
USA: Lions Gate Films
Cast: Paul Calderon, Michael Paul Chan, Dominic Chianese Jr, Sue Costello, Laurence Fishburne, Gregory Hines, Annabella Sciorra, Eamonn Walker, Titus Welliver
Director: Laurence Fishburne
USA: 110 mins
USA Rated: R for pervasive language, strong violence and some drug content
USA Release Date: 27 October 2000 (Limited Release)
A gritty drama centered around brotherhood and friendship, ONCE IN THE LIFE is a realistic depiction of how every day choices affect our path in life. It is a cautionary tale about making the wrong choices and the inevitable, tragic conclusion of an individual who is drawn to a life of crime - - Once in the life, always in the life.
The story focuses on two estranged brothers, 20/20 Mike and Torch, both of whom are involved in the world of crime. Mike is street smart and intuitive while Torch has a quick fuse due in part to a drug habit. They reconnect by chance in a police station and become involved in a heroin deal set up by Freddie Nine Lives, a flunkie for Manny Rivera, the local crime boss. The deal goes bad resulting in the death of Rivera's nephew.
Distrustful of everyone, including each other, the brothers are now forced to turn to an old friend of Mike's, Tony the Tiger, for help. Unfortunately, Mike is unaware that Tony works for Rivera, who has already instructed Tony to kill the brothers and avenge his nephew's death. Tony sets forth as ordered, but finds himself in inner turmoil over his genuine fondness for Mike. Rivera, sensing Tony's conflict, kidnaps Tony's wife and child to insure that he completes the task.
As Mike, Torch and Tony each attempt to deal with their emotions and find a way out of their own predicament, the issues of friendship, family and loyalty are deeply explored. In the end, the inevitability of the life they chose leaves them with no way out and reaches a forgone conclusion of death and tragedy.