John Singleton emerged from USC film school with his passionate script already written, and at age 23 he made the film that spawned a score of ghetto dramas. From the opening shot--a sign reading "Stop"--to the final message of "Increase the Peace," Singleton's desire to galvanize his audience is clear. The violence destroying South Central Los Angeles is seen through the eyes of Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Jr.), whose intelligence and common sense would be wasted in the 'hood if not for his father, Furious (Laurence Fishburne), who imparts discipline and responsibility to his son. Tre's friends aren't so lucky, though, especially Doughboy (Ice Cube), who has been in and out of institutions since childhood and now sits on his porch with a forty in his hand and a pistol in his waistband. Singleton is ambitious enough to tackle a host of problems, from African American business practices to the bias of the SAT test, but the real power of the film lies in the performances of its principals. Cuba Gooding, in his first role, doesn't let Tre come off like a goody two-shoes, while Ice Cube gives a tragic nobility to a young man who knows he's doomed.