Juice tells the story of four inner-city teens that get caught up in the pursuit of power and happiness, which they refer to as “juice”. The film was released in 1992 and follows the lives of Bishop (Tupac Shakur), Q (Omar Epps), Steal (Jermaine Hopkins), and Raheem (Khalil Kain). The movie is seen through Q’s eyes as he watches his friends make bad decisions and eventually decides to go along with them. It starts out as innocent mischief but grows more serious over time. The violence in Juice is mainly portrayed through Bishop’s character. The film uses its characters to portray the downside of peer pressure and one’s desire to control, which leads to poor decisions and ultimately violence.
In Juice pressure is seen early and often. In the beginning of the film the boys discover an old friend had been killed in a shootout in a bar because of this Bishop tells his friends that they have no “juice”. Bishop is obsessed with “juice”. His obsession with “juice” can be seen in a scene early in the movie that explains that his father was bullied in prison. Bishop just wants to get respect. He wants the respect that his father never got. Everything he does, he does just to get a reputation. All of the boys want “juice”, but the type Bishop craves is to corrosive. To get some “juice”, they decide to rob a corner store where Bishop eventually shoots the store owner. Q is against this as he doesn’t want a life of crime. Q is the most sensible one in the group and he knows right from wrong. He also is the only one with plans for the future as he is an up and coming dj. He fears the robbery will interfere with his dj audition which he has been yearning to compete in for years. The audition is at the same time as the boys plan to rob the store. After continuous pressure from Bishop and other members of his gang, he decides to go along with the robbery against his own judgment. The peer pressure Q receives from being in a gang can be stressful and difficult to turn down. The pressure Q is faced with is shown by him assisting in the robbery that leads to the death of the store owner. Through the peer pressure Q faced he lost his identity. It forced him to lead a certain lifestyle that he wasn’t comfortable with.
Juice shows that things can easily get out of hand. Certain events can be the start of a downward spiral that can continue and get worse. In Bishop’s case it was his obsession with power and killing. After killing the store owner and facing no consequences, Bishop feels like he can get away with anything. Due to the ease of access he has to a gun, he feels like he can control everything and everyone. Bishop’s controlling nature is shown in a scene when he threatens to kill Q and Steal if they turn him in about the murder and admits that he has a thrill of killing people. Not only does he threaten to kill them, he starts to follow them around and demand they do everything he says and they comply. He feels as if he now has the power he has always wanted. With this new found power, Bishop also realizes he can now kill the leader of a rival gang, Radames, that has been harassing them for years. He knows getting rid of the leader will give him more “juice”, so he takes advantage of it and kills him. Although Bishop possessed dominance over the gang he was not sure that they would still be loyal.
Bishop knows that soon these murders will come to light and that he needs a way out. He devises a plan to pin all the murders on Q. He also plans on getting rid of Q and Steal while he is at it. Bishop attempted to kill Steal because he felt he and Q would be disloyal; therefore Bishop sets out to find Q. However Steal survives and is able to warn Q before Bishop finds him. Once Q finds out…