Submitted by Tornado Dragon
One night, Q (Omar Epps) buys a handgun from Sweets (Jacqui Dickerson), a local small arms dealer, for protection against Bishop (Tupac Shakur), fearing that he has come to enjoy killing and that, given the fact that neither he nor Steel (Jermaine “Huggy” Hopkins) helped him out when he had a confrontation with Radames (Vincent Laresca) and his gang earlier that day (which ended with Bishop killing Radames), he will likely try to kill one of them sooner or later. He then visits his girlfriend, Yolanda (Cindy Herron), and while they are having dinner, he confesses to her that he knows who killed Raheem (Khalil Khan). However, he won’t tell her who it is, nor does he plan to go to the police about it, and she quickly figures out from this that he is mixed up in it somehow. After making it clear to her that he is not Raheem’s killer, she asks him what he intends to do about it. When he replies that he doesn’t know, she criticizes him for this by reminding him that Raheem was his best friend.
Just then, Yolanda gets a call from Steel, and he asks her to put Q on the line. Q finds out from him that he is down at the neighborhood pool hall with Bishop; Bishop surprised him in the main hallway of his apartment building, and he ended up agreeing to go there with him because he was too scared to say “no” to him. As he asks Q to come down here, Bishop interrupts and gets on the phone and demands to know who the caller is, but Q hangs up on him. Q tells Yolanda that he has to go, but won’t explain why, and after he refuses her offer to help him, she tells him that she will be working her nursing job at the hospital later if she needs him. Meanwhile, Bishop takes Steel into an isolated spot in an alley not far from the pool hall and points his gun at him, and after accusing him and Q of disloyalty, he shoots him. Bishop then returns to the pool hall and decides to frame Q for the murders he committed by telling the owner, Trip (Samuel L. Jackson), that Q has lost his mind and killed Raheem, Radames, and Quiles (Victor Campos). He also tells him that Q might try to do something to Steel as well and that he might have to take out Q himself if necessary. Shortly afterwards, we find out that Steel is still alive, and he musters up enough strength to walk out into the street so someone can see him, and an ambulance is soon called for him.
While Q is looking around the vicinity of the pool hall for Steel, he wanders up to the scene where Steel is being loaded into the ambulance and being watched by a crowd of onlookers. Moments later, he notices some of the onlookers looking in his direction and pointing and whispering, and he realizes that someone has put the blame for Steel’s condition on him. He runs away from the scene, and though a couple of cops chase after him, he manages to lose them. He then sneaks into the pool hall after closing time so he can talk to Trip, and after meeting with him, he asks him what is going on. Trip informs him that he received word that he was the one who killed Raheem, Radames, and Quiles, and though Q tells him that that is a lie and that he ought to know him better than that because he has known him since he was a kid, Trip doesn’t really believe him on the grounds that he has known a lot of killers since they were kids. Q decides then and there that he needs to put a stop to Bishop, so he tells Trip to get in touch with Bishop and tell him to meet him by the diner on 125th Street alone at midnight. After leaving the pool hall, Q ventures down another alley and gets unintentionally surprised by a homeless man, which causes him to draw his gun on him. Though he doesn’t pull the trigger, Q is disturbed by what he just did, and he quickly comes to think that he is turning into Bishop by carrying this weapon around. He thus decides to be the bigger man and face his former friend unarmed, after which he throws the gun into the Hudson River. Meanwhile, Steel arrives at the hospital and is taken right into an operating room, and he draws the attention of Yolanda when he is brought past her on the way there. She goes into the room to check on him, and after finding out that he will survive, she asks him what happened. Steel informs her that Bishop shot him, along with everyone else, and he is trying to frame Q for it all.
Later on, Bishop confronts Q at the meeting place with gun drawn, and he asks Q where his gun is because he knows that he bought one from Sweets. Q replies that he didn’t come here to have a gunfight with him because he is not like him, and if he wants his weapon, he will have to go into the river to get it. He then tries to tell Bishop that killing him just isn’t worth it, and even if he does take him out, his actions will come back to get him sooner or later. Bishop refuses to listen to this advice, and he tells Q all about his master plan to get away with all of his crimes: He will kill Q here and now, and when the cops are called in to investigate the matter, he will tell them that Q was responsible for all of the murders he committed (or thinks he committed, in Steel’s case), and then he will say that Q tried to kill him as well, but he managed to get “Q’s” gun out of his hands and shot and killed him in self-defense. Bishop then asks Q if he is ready to die, and Q answers “yes.” This answer surprises and confuses Bishop for a moment, giving Q an opportunity to punch him in the face and disarm him. He then brawls with Bishop to try to keep him from reclaiming his gun, but Bishop manages to fight him off and get his weapon back, forcing Q to flee. Bishop gives chase and tries to shoot Q, but he is only able to put a bullet in his upper left arm.
Q goes into an apartment building where a party is taking place in one of the units on one of the upper floors, and he enters an elevator with some partygoers. However, Bishop suddenly gets in, and Q soon asks him if he is going to shoot him in here. Without a second thought, Bishop tries to do so, but he fails, and the other people in the elevator are sent into a panic. After the elevator reaches the floor that the party is being held on, Q takes advantage of the panic by slipping out into the hallway without Bishop noticing, then jumping him from behind and knocking his gun out of his hand. Bishop pushes him off him and escapes into the party, and his gun is picked up and pocketed by one of the partygoers. Q follows Bishop through the party and then up onto the building’s roof, but he loses sight of him there. Bishop soon launches a surprise attack on him, and they have a brawl that ends with Q hitting Bishop with a punch that sends him over the edge of the roof. Q grabs Bishop’s arm to keep him from falling, but his grip is not strong enough, and Bishop soon slips through his grasp and falls to his death in the darkened alley below.
When Q turns away from the edge, he sees that a crowd of people from the party have already gathered around the roof’s entryway to witness the fight. As he makes his way through the crowd to go back inside, one of the guys remarks to him, “you got the juice now, man.” Q responds to this by looking at him and silently shaking his head in disgust. The movie closes with a clip from earlier in the film showing Q, Bishop, Raheem, and Steel in happier times.
As the credits roll, a DJ for a top New York City radio station is heard in voiceover playing one of Q’s mixtapes for the first time, an indication that Q was not jailed for anything that took place and that he is now on his way to achieving his dream of becoming a successful DJ.