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'Set It Off' could ignite more prominent women's roles

Queen Latifah November 8, 1996
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Sherry Dean

NEW YORK (CNN) -- "Set It Off," a new action thriller starring four African-American women, has taken off at the box office. And if all goes well, it could ignite an explosion of female action films.

The movie opened Wednesday with an impressive $1.8 million, taking a bite out of hot new films like "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet" and "High School High."

Much of the movie's early success can be attributed to its unique action-movie casting: four black women in the lead.


"This is unique in the fact that you have four black women carrying an action film," said Blair Underwood, one of the few male stars in the movie. "They were so excited about it, and I'm excited and happy for them."

"Set It Off" stars Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett, Vivica Fox and Kimberly Elise, close friends who turn to robbing banks out of desperation.

They started as hard working young women, just trying to make an honest dollar. But when life got tough, they turned to crime.


Pinkett explained the women's roles. "When your backs are against the wall, you don't have anything to lose. There are several choices you can make and we just decided to make a bad one," Pinkett said.

Queen Latifah said the women prepared for their roles by "hanging" out at sushi bars. All said they got a rush from the scenes.

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"It was really weird for me to go out there, pull out my glock and be like, 'Everybody lay down,'" Fox said.

But while the film has violent content, Elise said the movie highlights several positive messages: "Crime doesn't pay. Don't get into peer pressure. Listen to your instincts and find another option."


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