In Clockers, Mekhi Phifer stars as Strike, a 19-year-old Brooklyn drug dealer with an ulcer and a hobby of collecting model trains. The pressure on him gets worse when Rodney (Delroy Lindo), his boss and surrogate father, orders him to execute a pusher who is stealing from him.

Although Strike's brother Victor (Isaiah Washington) tells the police that Strike killed the pusher in self-defense, homicide detective Rocco (Harvey Keitel) believes he did it deliberately, and decides to dog him. The young dealer finds himself also under siege from a housing cop (Keith David) and increasingly enraged members of the community who are tired of seeing their children succumb to drugs and early death.

Spike Lee has characterized his hard-hitting screen adaptation of Richard Price's 1992 novel as "the hood movie to end all hood movies." Clockers effectively conveys the conflicting factions in ghetto areas where black-on-black violence makes death a member of the family.