The Players Club is a 1998 American comedy/drama film written and directed by Ice Cube (who made his directorial debut and also has a small role in the film), starring Bernie Mac, Jamie Foxx, Alex Thomas, Faizon Love, John Amos, Terrance Howard, Anthony Johnson/ A.J. Johnson, Charlie Murphy, Monica Calhoun and LisaRaye.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Diana Armstrong (LisaRaye) arrives at the scene of the raunchy, dysfunctional Players Club. She narrates that she used to work at the club and begun when she moved out of her parents home after an argument with her father as she was pregnant with her son.
Diana ends up working at a shoe store, when she meets Ronnie (Chrystale Wilson) and Tricks (Adele Givens), who work for Dolla Bill (Bernie Mac) at The Players Club. They convince Diana she would make better money stripping, by saying, "Use what you got to get what you want."
Dolla Bill gives Diana a job, giving her the name Diamond. Everything is fine until four years into the game, her younger lost-minded cousin Ebony Armstrong (Monica Calhoun) comes to live with her. After listening to Dolla's rendition of "The Strippin' Game", she starts working at the club.
Ebony is soon out of control, excessively drinking, staying out all night and influenced more and more by Ronnie and Tricks who encourage Ebony to do more out-of-club parties for groups of men. Diana tries to warn Ebony to stay away from "those two" and quit doing house parties, but Ebony declines being told what to do, choosing to ignore Diana's advice.
After the heated confrontation, Diana has a flashback of a time when she was at a private party with Ronnie and Tricks. The men at the private party offers to pay Ronnie to perform cunnilingus on Diamond who has passed out on the bed drunk. Ronnie accepts the offer and proceeds to assault Diamond, the flashback encourages Diana to protect Ebony.
Meanwhile, Dolla Bill gets confronted by a man who works for St. Louis, a drug lord to whom Dolla Bill owes $60,000. He warns Dolla Bill if he doesn't make a payment of $10,000 to St. Louis, he will hunt him down. That same night, St. Louis comes to his club to collect. Little Man, who is the Doorman of the club, tells St. Louis that Dolla Bill is not at the club and they leave.
The next day as Dolla Bill tries to leave the club, he gets confronted by St. Louis' men, Brooklyn (Charlie Murphy) and KC (Terrence Howard). They beat him unconscious and throw him into the back of his car. Luckily, for Dollar however, they are stopped by Freeman and Peters, two crooked cops. However Dolla Bill is found in the trunk and is arrested on warrants.
The Following night when rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell comes to the strip club, Two thuggish friends Reggie (Ice Cube) and his friend Clyde (Alex Thomas) are discussing about him.
When Dolla Bill, who was bailed out of jail and returned to his club, is notified that Luke is at his club he alerts the strippers via a money alarm and believes he will gain a fortune profit. Clyde tries to meet Luke but his bodyguard (Michael Clarke Duncan) informs Clyde that Luke is trying to relax and not meet with fans.
Clyde insults the bodyguard causing him to hit Clyde in the back of his head as he leaves, leaving him unconscious. In retaliation, Reggie beats down the bodyguard and belligerently fights against Luke and his friends, only for him to be defeated and thrown into a glass window. The dazed Reggie opens fire wildly before being knocked unconscious by the bouncer XL (Tiny Lister).
Further tension develops between Ebony and Diana when Diana returns home one night after fleeing her obsessive customer Myrin, who admitted to stalking her and then tried to force entry to her apartment, to find Ebony in bed with her boyfriend Lance. Diana chases Lance out with her gun, shooting at him several times. Diana threatens and taunts Ebony. When Diana feigns leaving, Ebony is hit when she opens the door and is thrown out the apartment.
Diana then begins dating Blue (Jamie Foxx), a DJ at the Player's Club. Meanwhile, Ebony is offered a gig to dance at Ronnie's brother Junior's (Samuel Monroe Jr.) bachelor party, under the pretense from Ronnie that other girls from the club will be dancing there, too (Ronnie herself understandably had no desire to strip for her brother).
When Ebony realizes that she will be the only woman in a hotel room full of rough and horny men, she desperately tries calling Diana to come and pick her up, but Diana doesn't, still being mad at her. Reggie and Clyde (both feeling insulted by Diana and Ebony from a previous encounter) lie to Junior that Ebony will have sex with him, claiming that they "ran a train" on her.
Excited, Junior bursts in on Ebony while she is changing. Ebony resists, prompting Junior to brutally beat and rape her, leaving his friends to listen to it in full disgust and disbelief. Soon, Reggie, Clyde and the other guests leave, wanting no involvement with Junior anymore.
When Ronnie discovers Ebony unconscious, she and Junior flee the hotel room as she scolds him. Later, Diana has a change of heart and she and Blue decide to check up on Ebony at the hotel, only to discover her bloody and unconscious body on a bed.
This proves to be the last straw to Diana, who was growing tired of the stripper game anyway. Angered, she grabs her gun and goes to the Players Club where Ronnie and Tricks are hiding out. After scaring the other strippers away by firing a warning shot, Diana gives the gun to Blue to cover her while she gets into a brutal fistfight with Ronnie, leaving Ronnie badly beaten. She quits in front of Dolla Bill, punches Tricks and leaves along with Blue.
Ronnie & Tricks are arrested by the police on charges of the rape of Ebony and Junior had been arrested moments before. Later that night, Diana's timing proves to be perfect when St. Louis comes to collect. He personally shoots up the club (though he does give warning to the customers beforehand, allowing them to leave).
As he try to leave Reggie and Clyde grab Dolla, he is face to face with St. Louis' associate who had confronted him earlier and they both throw him into the trunk of his car. St. Louis has Brooklyn destroy the club with a LAW rocket.
Ebony (still sporting the bruises from her rape) now has a job working at the shoe store. Having been berated by two strippers who work at a new club, called Club Sugar Daddy's, with the same slogan that influenced her to strip, she firmly stands her ground.
In the end, Diamond narrates that Ebony moved back to Tallahassee, Florida to be with her mother. Blue is a top DJ at a radio station and that he and Diamond are moving further in their relationship.
Ronnie and Tricks got jobs at Club Sugar Daddy's after their release from jail. Junior is serving time in prison for raping Ebony and that he never got married. Reggie and Clyde were last seen at the Freaknik in Atlanta. St. Louis is still "running the South" along with his crew Brooklyn and KC. Peters and Freeman are still harassing people all day. Little Man is Managing a Strip Club in Chicago.
Dolla Bill was never heard from again (it can be safely assumed that he was murdered by St. Louis's men for his debts as he was last seen being stuffed into the trunk of their car). Diamond is now a successful reporter.
- Bernie Mac as Dollar Bill: the dim owner of The Players Club who is threatened by a loan shark name St. Louis as Dollar Bill has yet to pay him. At one point earlier in the film, he was captured by Brooklyn and K.C. but escapes death when the two loan sharks are arrested. At the end, he was re-captured by St. Louis' men and is presumed to be murdered after.
- LisaRaye as Diana "Diamond" Armstrong: a college worker who is employed at The Players Club to raise money for her college funds as she aspires herself into becoming a journalist. However, Ronnie and Tricks opposes a rivalry against her and she quits after a beatdown between her and Ronnie.
- Monica Calhoun as Ebony: Diamond's younger cousin who becomes sensibly out-of-control after being employed in The Players Club. She befriends Ronnie and Tricks, who manipulates and prompts her throughout. In the end, she begins working at a shoe store after being beaten and raped by Ronnie's younger brother.
- Jamie Foxx as Blue: the club's radio disc jockey and Diamond's love interest of the film.
- Chrystale Wilson as Ronnie: A stripper at The Players Club who rivals against Diamond as she aids Ebony. She is later beaten by Diamond due to her affiliation with Ebony's beating and rape (though she was unaware about this) and was arrested.
- Adele Givens as Tricks: A stripper at The Players Club and a right-hand of Ronnie. She was arrested at the end of the film.
- Anthony Johnson as Lil Man: the club's doorman who is frequently taunted and harmed by St. Louis and his crooks when he covers up for Dollar Bill's absences.
- Tiny Lister as XL the Bouncer: a tall, muscular bouncer of the club.
- Larry McCoy as St. Louis: a wheelchair-bound gangster who Dollar Bill owes money to.
- Charlie Murphy as Brooklyn: St. Louis' main henchman.
- Terrence Howard as K.C.: St. Louis' secondary henchman and Brooklyn's partner in crime.
- Ice Cube as Reggie: a regular who is somehow working for St. Louis who is at the Players Club to look over Dollar Bill's business and has affection towards Ebony.
- Alex Thomas as Clyde: Reggie's best friend who, like Reggie, has an affection towards Ebony and works for St. Louis.
- Samuel Monroe Jr. as Junior: Ronnie's younger brother.
- Faizon Love as Officer Peters: a police officer who harasses suspects.
- John Amos as Officer Freeman: another police officer who harasses suspects.
- Luther Campbell as Luke: a rapper who visits the club.
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Bodyguard: the tall, muscular bodyguard for Luke.
- Montae Russell as Lance: Diamond's boyfriend who she ended her relationship with due to his attraction towards Ebony.
The filming dates for "The Players Club" took place from March to April 28, 1997. It was filmed in Los Angeles, California.
"The Players Club" was first given a limited release on April 10, 1998 and opened at #5 at the box office, grossing $5,894,607 during its opening weekend.
On April 24, 1998, the film was given a wide release and opened at #9 at the box office, grossing $2,034,303 during its opening weekend.
Domestically, the film grossed $23,047,939 and $23,261,485 worldwide.
On Rotten Tomatoes, "The Players Club" was giving a rating of 31% based on 16 reviews with an average rating of 5.1\10.
Roger Ebert gave the film a three-star rating, describing it as "Rich with colorful dialogue and characters, it's sometimes ungainly but never boring, and there's a core of truth in its portrait of exotic dancers."
Peter Stack from the San Francisco Chronicle said, "the film writing and directing debut of actor and rapper Ice Cube, looks in a seriocomic way at the tawdry, exploitive life of a Georgia strip joint. The lines between prey and predator are blurred in this raw, raucous movie."
Janet Maslin from the New York Times called it "a hearty throwback to the formula behind '70s blaxploitation films."