|The Players Club|
|Directed by||Ice Cube|
|Produced by||Patricia Charbonnet|
Ice Cube (also executive producer)
|Written by||Ice Cube|
|Music by||Frank Fitzpatrick|
|Cinematography||Malik Hassan Sayeed|
|Edited by||Suzanne Hines|
Cube Vision Productions
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$23.3 million|
The Players Club is a 1998 American dark comedy drama film and thriller written and directed by Ice Cube in his directorial debut. With Ice Cube, the film stars Bernie Mac, Monica Calhoun, Jamie Foxx, John Amos, A. J. Johnson, Alex Thomas, Charlie Murphy, Terrence Howard, Faizon Love and LisaRaye in her first starring role.
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The story is presented as a memory of Diana “Diamond” Armstrong (LisaRaye) sparked by her arrival at the ruins of the raunchy, dysfunctional Players Club. She explains that she used to work at the club, beginning working there after getting pregnant with her son Jamal and getting into a heated argument with her father about wanting to go to a local historically black college (HBCU), prompting her to move out of her parents' home. Initially, Diana ends up working at a shoe store. There she meets Ronnie (Chrystale Wilson) and Tricks (Adele Givens), who work for Dollar Bill (Bernie Mac) at The Players Club. They convince Diana she would make better money stripping, saying, "Use what you got to get what you want."
Dollar Bill gives Diana a job and the name Diamond. Her job initially goes well. However, four years later her younger cousin Ebony Armstrong (Monica Calhoun) comes to live with her after leaving Florida. After listening to Dollar's rendition of "The Strippin' Game", she starts working at the club.
Ebony is soon out of control - drinking excessively, staying out all night and influenced more and more by Ronnie and Tricks, who encourage Ebony to do more out-of-club parties for groups of men. Diamond tries to warn Ebony to stay away from Ronnie and Tricks and to quit doing house parties, but Ebony rebels against being told what to do and ignores Diamond's advice.
After a heated confrontation with Ebony, Diamond has a flashback to a time when she was at a private party with Ronnie and Tricks. Diamond is passed out on the bed drunk, and the men at the party offer to pay Ronnie to perform cunnilingus on Diamond. Ronnie accepts the offer and proceeds to assault Diamond. The flashback encourages Diamond to continue to try to protect Ebony. Clyde (Alex Thomas) and Reggie (Ice Cube) - two watchmen who work for a drug lord named St. Louis - offer Ebony money to come off and have sex with them, but Diamond intervenes.
Meanwhile, Dollar Bill gets confronted by a man who works for St. Louis, a drug lord and loan shark to whom Dollar Bill owes $60,000. He warns Dollar Bill if he doesn't make a payment of $10,000 to St. Louis, he will hunt him down. That same night, St. Louis comes to his club to collect. Lil' Man, the doorman of the club, tells St. Louis that Dollar Bill is not at the club; St. Louis and his men leave. The next day as Dollar Bill tries to leave the club, St. Louis' men Brooklyn (Charlie Murphy) and K.C. (Terrence Howard) confront him. They beat him unconscious and throw him into the trunk of his car. Luckily for him, they are stopped by Freeman (John Amos) and Peters (Faizon Love), two crooked cops. Dollar Bill is found in the trunk and is arrested on warrants; he is later bailed out and returns to the club.
The following night rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell comes to the strip club, Reggie and Clyde discuss him. When Dollar Bill is notified that Luke is at his club, he alerts the strippers via a money alarm, believing he will make a fortune. All of the strippers in the club come rushing down where Luke and his crew are sitting, while Diamond chooses to stay pleasuring Miron. Shortly afterwards Diamond's professor comes in the club and notices her dancing. Embarrassed and ashamed, Diamond runs away downstairs to the locker room. Ronnie then comes in and attempts to sexually assault Diamond again but Diamond fights off her advances. Back upstairs, Clyde attempts to meet Luke, but Luke's bodyguard (Michael Clarke Duncan) informs Clyde that Luke is trying to relax and not meet with fans. Clyde insults the bodyguard, causing him to hit Clyde in the back of his head as he starts to walk away. The bodyguard, Luke and the others in the V.I.P. section all laugh. In retaliation, Reggie grabs a chair, smashes it over the bodyguards head and beats down the bodyguard and belligerently fights against Luke and his friends, only for him to be gang-beaten and thrown into a glass window. The dazed Reggie opens fire wildly while the patrons flee before being knocked out by the bouncer X.L. (Tiny Lister). Clyde then gets up and begins throwing punches himself at the entourage. Back downstairs, a panicked Tricks comes busting in yelling about the shooting upstairs stopping Ronnie from assaulting Diamond.
Further tension develops between Ebony and Diamond when Diamond returns home later that night after fleeing her obsessive customer Miron, who admitted to stalking her and then tried to force entry to her apartment, only to find Ebony in bed with her now ex-boyfriend Lance (after he breaks up with Diamond earlier). Diamond loses it and lunges at Ebony but Lance restrains her. Ebony frantically flees to the bathroom and locks the door and Diamond chases Lance out with her gun, shooting at him several times. Diamond then threatens and taunts Ebony. When Diamond feigns leaving, she punches Ebony when she opens the door and throws her out of the apartment. Diamond begins to grow sick and tired of the drama with Ebony and the club. Days later, Diamond reconciles with her professor; he tells her he understands and promises to help her start her career after she graduates.
Diamond then begins dating Blue (Jamie Foxx), a DJ at the Player's Club. Meanwhile, Ebony is offered a gig to dance at Ronnie's brother Junior's (Samuel Monroe Jr.) bachelor party, under the pretense from Ronnie that other girls from the club will be dancing there as well (In actuality, Ronnie lied to use her as a way out of stripping for her brother's friends at the party so Ebony can strip for them instead). When Ebony realizes that she will be the only woman in a hotel room full of horny men, she desperately tries calling Diamond (who is out on a date with Blue) to come and pick her up, but Diamond refuses, still being mad at Ebony for sleeping with Lance.
Meanwhile, at Junior's party, Reggie and Clyde, both feeling insulted by Diamond and Ebony from a previous encounter (she aggressively told them she wasn't interested anymore when she first arrived to the party), tell Junior that Ebony will have sex with him, claiming that they "ran a train" on her. Excited, Junior bursts in on Ebony while she is changing. Ebony resists, prompting Junior to brutally beat and rape her, leaving his friends to listen to it in full disgust and disbelief. Soon, Reggie, Clyde and the other guests leave, wanting no further involvement with Junior. When Ronnie discovers Ebony unconscious, she and Junior flee the hotel room as she scolds him. Later, Diamond has a change of heart and she and Blue decide to check up on Ebony at the hotel, only to discover her bloodied and unconscious body on the bed. This proves to be the final straw for Diamond.
Furious, Diamond grabs her gun and goes to the Players Club, where Ronnie and Tricks are hiding out. After scaring the other strippers away by firing a warning shot, Diamond gives the gun to Blue to cover her while she gets into a brutal fistfight with Ronnie, leaving Ronnie badly beaten. Diamond punches Tricks and this prompts Dollar Bill to firing her from the club. Diamond says final insults to Dollar and alongside with Tricks, Dollar and the others check on a beaten and bruised Ronnie and nurse her facial injuries, while Diamond and Blue leave.
Ronnie and Tricks are arrested by the police on charges of the rape of Ebony. (Junior was already arrested.) Later that night, Diamond's timing proves to be perfect when St. Louis, comes to collect. He personally shoots up the club (though he does give warning to the innocent customers and employees beforehand, allowing them to leave). As he desperately tries to escape, Dollar is captured by Reggie, Clyde, and St. Louis' associate, whom Dollar Bill met earlier. Later, Brooklyn destroys the club with a LAW rocket, which explains the opening scene.
Ebony, still sporting the bruises from her rape, now has a job working at the shoe store. Having been berated by two strippers who work at a new club, Club Sugar Daddy's, with the same slogan that influenced her and Diana to strip, she firmly stands her ground. Ebony and Diana are back on good terms again. She reminds her to "make that money", which Ebony replied, "Don't let it make you." In voice-over, Diamond narrates that Ebony moved back to Tallahassee, FL to be with her mother. Blue is a top D.J. at a radio station, and he and Diamond are moving further in their relationship. Ronnie and Tricks work at Club Sugar Daddy's after their release from jail. Junior is now serving time for Ebony's rape and he never got married. Reggie and Clyde were last seen at the "Freaknik" in Atlanta. St. Louis is still "running the South" along with Brooklyn and K.C. Peters and Freeman are still harassing people all day. Little Man manages a strip club in Chicago. Dollar Bill was never heard from again (It can be safely presumed that he was murdered by St. Louis' men for his debts as he was last seen being stuffed into the trunk of their car). Diamond becomes a successful reporter, having put the past behind her to move on to a new life with her son and boyfriend.
A successful soundtrack was released on March 17, 1998, peaking at #10 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It featured artists such as the film's star, Ice Cube, DMX, Master P and Jay-Z, among others.
The movie debuted at No. 5.It went on to gross $23,047,939 domestically, and $213,546 in foreign markets for a total lifetime gross of $23,261,485.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 31%, based on 16 reviews, with an average rating of 5.20/10.
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