In Pusher, which hits theaters this weekend, Briton Richard Coyle stars as a mid-level drug dealer, whose business is booming in London’s underground culture. A remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1990s thriller, the film (which also marks director Luis Prieto’s English-language debut) watches as a drug lord’s life implodes, a process with which filmgoers are quite familiar. Throughout much of cinema history, and especially in recent decades, drug pushers of all walks have graced the screen, providing brief escapes for lost souls and party people. But be them morphine sellers, pot distributors, or even moonshine runners, the party has to stop some time.
Wesley Snipes in New Jack City (1991). Wesley Snipes gets his villain on as Nino Brown, the crack-pushing head of the Cash Money Brothers in Mario Van Peebles’s directorial debut, New Jack City. A power-hungry thug bent on keeping his business trucking, Nino always insists that none of his acts are personal, but they certainly are for Scotty (Ice-T), the New York detective who goes undercover in Nino’s crew. Released in response to the crack epidemic spawned in the ’80s, New Jack City marked the start of a bond between Snipes and co-screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, who’d go on to collaborate on Above the Rim andSugar Hill.