Fresh is a classic part-noir/part thriller crime movie starring Samuel L Jackson, N'Bushe Wright, Sean Nelson (as the eponymous character) and Gian Carlo Esposito. It was released in August 1994 by Luminiere Pictures and later distributed, in some cinemas by Miramax.
The story revolves around 12-year old Michael, who goes by his street name Fresh. He lives in a housing project in Brooklyn with his Aunt Frances and his sister Nicole (Wright), a low-self esteem girl who doesn't make being taken advantage of and his bros, after his parents divorced. He spends his day in the opening, running drugs for both Corky's and Esteban's gangs. We then see him go into Herbie (Yul Vazquez) store, who counts the drugs for Fresh to give him the money. He then goes to school where his teacher scolds him for coming late. After that we see what the kids do in school all day, including one graphic scene where the kids talk about smacking girls who they think are bitches and act "all that," including not wanting to be with guys they deem as beneith them. After Fresh hides his money, in order to evade being caught by cops, he comes home late. His sis is fed up with him coming home late, and says that if they end up in a group home because of him, she'll kill him.
The next day we see the typical daily operations of Corky's crime family, consisting of Fresh, Jake (Jean La-Marre) and Red. We see a foreshadowing of Jake's evil nature in which Jake threatens to kill someone because of a personal debt he is owed. We then see Corky's gang. And Corky gives Fresh crap for wanting to demand his money. This gets Corky into admiring Fresh for sticking up for himself. We then see Fresh go to Manhattan to play a game and we meet his father, Sam (Jackson). Here, Sam teaches Fresh about how chess can be applied to life. Little does he know at the moment that this will end up helping Fresh later, in a grand plan to pit the evil men who run his neighborhood against each other. He scolds Fresh for being materialistic, after watching him play a game with someone else for money. He says, "Time ain't money... no matter what those morons who eat that kind of shit up say," and then says, that the only thing that really matters is not wasting your life. They play each other, but Fresh loses.
We then see Fresh and his friends walk east on Broadway in Brooklyn, in which they talk about their baseball cars and about comics. We then meet Esteban (Esposito) who thanks Fresh for saving an ounce of heroin for him. Esteban then convinces Fresh that his gang is more safer to work for than Corky's, because Corky's gang has a reputation of killing people who even look at them the wrong way, and that crack causes more violence. In some ways it's a lie to manipulate Fresh, however there is some truth -- Jake is extremely evil and kills for the most evil of reasons (as we'll see later) and Corky seems to tolerate it. But Esteban is no different. Later on he implies a desire to kill Fresh if he doesn't tell him where his sister (who he wants to bang) is. We then go to Nicole's home, in which her boyfriend, James, a distributor of drugs, berates him, calls him ugly, and then we see a sad scene where Fresh talks to a low self-esteem Nicole. But Fresh says he loves her.
We then see a basketball scene, where Curtis is playing against Jake. Jake is so evil, that when Curtis beats him, he takes his gun and shoots him three times mercilessly (however it's not graphically shown, that's why it didn't get an NC-17 for bizarre behavior). He notices that Rosie was also killed, and he tries to resistate her. But it fails, cause she dies. We see Fresh all sad. Perez tries to ask Fresh what would happen, but Fresh is too scared to talk. Next day, we see Fresh back in Manhattan with his father. Sam is annoyed that Fresh is not himself, and tells him that if he's gonna be all messed up, not to play. Fresh then snaps out of it and starts playing like he should, almost beating Sam, except for one move. They celebrate because this is the first time Fresh says "checkmate." At Sam's house, a trailer park, we see Sam talking to Fresh about all the players who played chess. Then we see a discussion about Fresh's family. It abruptly ends with Fresh saying "nigga," which his father disapproves of. He continues it anyway, saying that he's not even in his life. Sam wants to do something but restrains. We then see a dog fight at Ricardo's, the building where Chuckie was talking about earlier. In what is a bone-chilling scene of foreshadowing, we see Jake staring murderously at Fresh (this might be a foreshadowing of Chuckie's murder later on). In another bone-chilling foreshadowing, we see Roscoe being a killer dog (which is a foreshadowing of Fresh killing Roscoe later on, to put him out of his misery).
Later on we go back to his apartment where Fresh tries to tell his sis not to touch his board. But she angrily says that hes' never home, so he has no right to tell em what to do. Later on we go to Esteban's crime place, a housing project in Vinegar Hill, right by Downtown Brooklyn. Here we see what Esteban plans to do, using kids to do his dirty work, and says that one day, Fresh will be "the man." We then see the beginning of Fresh's plan after this scene. Fresh goes to Hector, a drug distributor, somewhere near Kensington in Brooklyn, where he lies that Corky needs his money. He then lies that the phones are wiretapped and implies that if he calls Corky again, he'll have Smokey kill him. We then see a montage of the plan in action, where Chuckie brags to Corky's gang that he'll working for Esteban, as part of his plan to bring attention to Corky. Nicolas then warns Fresh that he should tell Esteban to cut out the lying, but refuses to listen. We then see them hanging out by the railyard in Queens, where Chuckie discusses his loneliness. Then we see them go to Mahattan to pick up some books from a Chinese guy, but it's obviously a set up. They then go back to Brooklyn, where they will hide the drugs, unsuccessfully, to make Esteban look bad. Then three of Corky's men in shadows gang up on Chuckie and Fresh, in the shadows, and kills Chuckie. Fresh tells Chuckie to run, however Chuckie drops his gun and tries to retrieve it. One of the gang members shoots the tire to pinch Chuckie, thus leaving him doomed to death. Fresh then runs, in a montage, in fear, around Brooklyn, until either the next morning or later on in the night when we see him at the police precienct, where a racist Detective Sharp calls him a "monkey" and then gives up and hands over the investigation to Perez. Perez knows what Fresh is doing and sides with Fresh with his plan, against his own better judgment. He warns him to act soon, because he will be the next victim if he doesn't. The next few sequences are heartbreaking, Frances tells Fresh he'll be in a group home, because she can't risk their kid's lives for him, as much as she'd love to keep him. The next scene is heartbreak, with Nicolas turning his back on Fresh by beating him up, where the teacher stops him.
We then see a scene where Fresh shoots Roscoe, and it's hear that we see Fresh turn from being innocent to being someone ready to kill if he had to. Fresh then gets ready for Corky's men to gang up on Fresh. Jake and his men kidnap Fresh, and Corky interrogates him on all the crap Chuckie was talking about. He gets ready to murder Fresh, however Fresh lies that Jake was the one who he was forced to sell drugs to, and that he only had Chuckie say it was Esteban out of fear that Jake would kill him. Jake tries to convince Corky that he's lying. But Corky calls Hector to get the bottom of this. However, while Hector doesn't say anything, the nature of his conversation, convinces him that Fresh was telling the truth. He then precedes to kill Jake and Red with chains. But Jake tries to convince Corky that Fresh is lying. But Fresh says otherwise. Corky murders both of them. And then demands that Fresh tell him who Jake was running for. He lies that it was James. Then he goes to Esteban and tells them that Corky was trying to have James wipe him out. He also says that James was seeing Nicole. This leads to a violent shootout on Myrtle Avenue right by Broadway. Esteban shoots James for messing with his product. Then Fresh runs from them and has Perez come in. Fresh then lies that Esteban was trying to set each of them up. This ends with Esteban getting arrested.
Fresh then goes to Sam for one last time. Sam then says he's had enough of his nonsense, and he's going to play the game without giving any life tips. Fresh then breaks down and cries, and the movie cuts to black and ends there.