The Original Ending To “Juice” Shows Bishop Choosing His Own Destiny (Video)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Juice. The film, which starred Omar Epps, Jermaine Hopkins, Khalil Kain, and Tupac Shakur, in his debut role, became an instant classic, both for its gritty portrayals and its high-powered soundtrack, which featured the likes of Eric B. & Rakim, Naughty By Nature, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Too Short, Cypress Hill and more. It also served to launch the career of Shakur, who had yet to release an album.

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Despite its place in the canon of revered films, the version of Juice that was released to theaters was not fully in line with the vision of its director and writer, Ernest Dickerson. Last Summer, in a panel discussion, Dickerson, who wrote the film with Gerard Brown, revealed that the original ending to the film did not test well, and needed to be revamped. Now, that alternate ending has been released, along with the silver anniversary home video edition of Juice.

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“Part of who Bishop is [was] shaped by what he knows…what he has heard happened to his father in prison. We see that his father is traumatized,” Dickerson says in setting up the rationale for the original ending. “So, as scripted, when we did the final fight between Bishop (Tupac) and Q (Epps) on the rooftop, and Bishop goes over and Q holds on to him…then [Bishop] hears police sirens coming…and he stops struggling, and he looks at Q’s eyes, and he says ‘I’m not going to jail,’ and [Bishop] lets go. He would rather die than go to jail.”

Rather than position Bishop’s decision as a cowardly choice, Dickerson sees it as representative of his courage. “It was just an attitude that showed that Bishop wasn’t a punk, and that he was a force that really had to be reckoned and dealt with, in the right way.”

The release of the anniversary edition of Juice coincides with that of All Eyez On Me, the biopic on the life of Tupac Shakur, which is in theaters on June 16, on what would be Tupac’s 46th birthday.