10 Best Black Crime Movies

Friday, February 11 by Shawn Lealos

The ten best black crime movies tell stories from the streets, mostly from the perspective of an African American filmmaker. Some of these movies are considered the finest of all time, preserved in the National Film Registry, while others remain cult favorites, remembered for their gritty reality and violence.

  1. “Boyz ‘N the Hood” – This is one of the best black crime movies ever made, telling the story of young men trying to stay alive on the streets. The movie shows the life of three friends from Los Angeles, two of which never make it off the streets alive. The movie was added to the National Film Registry in 2002.
  2. “Menace II Society” – This movie shows the harsh urban violence in South Central Los Angeles and remains one of the best black crime movies ever made. The movie follows a drug dealer who finally finds a way to get off of the streets, but realizes it is too late.
  3. “Do the Right Thing”Spike Lee directs this slice of life story, one of the best black crime movies of all time. While not the basic crime story, the movie transcends into a violent battle, with police and the people of the neighborhood facing off in a race-riot. The movie was named to the National Film Registry in its first year of eligibility.
  4. “Black Dynamite” – This 2009 film is a loving homage to blaxploitation movies and is one of the best black crime movies of all time Black Dynamite is a former CIA agent who avenges his brother’s death while trying to clean up the streets of a new, dangerous drug.
  5. “New Jack City” – Mario Van Peebles directs this, one of the best black crime movies of all time. Wesley Snipes plays a rising crime lord in New York City who faces off with an undercover police detective played by Ice-T.
  6. “American Gangster” – Denzel Washington stars as true-life gangster Frank Lucas in this, one of the best black crime movies of all time. The movie is unusual because it portrays the crime lord as a good, family man while the policeman chasing him is a streetwise thug.
  7. “Shaft” – This is one of the original blaxploitation movies and one of the best black crime movies of all time. Richard Roundtree stars as Shaft, a private detective in the streets of Harlem. In this original movie, Shaft is searching for the missing daughter of a black mobster.
  8. “Dead Presidents” – The Hughe brothers followed up their successful “Menace II Society” with this, one of the best black crime movies ever made. The movie tracks the life of a black Vietnam vet who returns home to the Bronx and turns to a life of crime.
  9. “Clockers” – Based on the novel by Richard Price, this Spike Lee movie remains one of the best black crime movies of all time. In the movie, clockers are drug dealers on the street. One of the dealers is ordered to kill a rival dealer and when the clocker’s older brother admits to the murder, police dig into the operations.
  10.  “Juice”Tupac Shakur stars in this, one of the best black crime movies ever made. The movie follows a group of friends living in Harlem whose lives change when one of them murders a man. The killer grows more violent and dangerous, becoming a threat to his friends as well.