John Singleton's portrayal of social problems in inner-city LA takes the form of three friends growing up together in the "hood". Athlete Ricky hopes to win a football scholarship, Dough succumbs to violence and alcohol while Tre is kept on the straight and narrow by his father. This gritty portrayal of poor America is leavened with a strong sense of humour from the trio.
Cuba Gooding Jr
Amid so much that's dross and inconsequential in modern black youth films, it's good to find a film that's so relevant to modern living.
To be accurate, black modern living in the poor quarter of LA, where children grow up (if they grow up) trying to concentrate on their homework against background noises of police helicopters patrolling the district and the machine-gun fire of rival neighbourhood gangs exchanging mutual murder.
If the outcome of this particular story is fairly predictable, that's not to deny the strength in its telling - an amazing first-time effort from its 23-year-old director John Singleton.
His portrait of growing up comes across as real and affects us all.
An excellent cast includes Larry Fishburne and Angela Bassett, who both won Oscar nominations as co-stars of Tina What's Love Got to Do With It.