Nineteen-thirties Harlem is a state of mind, a place where forbidden fantasies intersect: for whites it's the promise of illicit pleasure, for blacks the promise of illicit power, and for first-time director (writer-executive producer-star) Eddie Murphy it offers an opportunity to depict
his own peculiar idea of the hip and the cool. Murphy is Quick, an orphan who has become the ward and partner of Sugar Ray (Richard Pryor), whose onetime seedy after-hours joint is now a fashionable nightclub. Mobster club-owner Bugsy Calhoune (Michael Lerner) doesn't like competition, so he
attempts to put the squeeze on Club Sugar Ray, first by having a corrupt cop (Danny Aiello)...