Jason's Lyric is a 1994 romantic drama film, written by Bobby Smith, Jr., and directed by Doug McHenry. The film marks the directorial debut of McHenry, who co-produced the film with George Jackson. Both Jackson and McHenry have been notably successful as producers with films that include New Jack City. Jason's Lyric features an ensemble cast of African American actors that includes Allen Payne, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Treach, Eddie Griffin, Lahmard Tate, Lisa Nicole Carson, and Forest Whitaker. Set in Houston, Texas, the film is a story about young African American adults learning how to deal with love and maturity.
Jason (Allen Payne) is a responsible young man who has a job in a television repair shop and lives at home with his hard-working mom (Suzzanne Douglass). Joshua (Bokeem Woodbine) is the younger brother just released from prison. He is volatile, disturbed ex-con who is obviously bound for a violent end. Joshua deals drugs for short-term cash and joins a crew plotting a bank robbery. When Lyric (Jada Pinkett Smith) walks into the shop to buy a television, Jason meets his perfect match. She has dreams of escape, and inspires Jason to do supposedly romantic things like borrow a city bus to take her on a date. Their relationship continually grows and blossoms into love. The height comes when Jason and Lyric take a romantic ride in a rowboat, then make love in the woods. In a series of flashbacks, Forest Whitaker plays the boys' father, Mad Dog. Throughout the film, Jason has nightmares about a tragedy in his childhood. Either Jason or Joshua killed Mad Dog while he was drunkenly attacking their mother. It turns out that Jason accidentally killed Mad Dog in the end. Jason managed to take the gun from Joshua and accidentally shot Mad Dog in the chest. After being comforted by Lyric, he learns to deal with his past. The robbery does not go as planned; Joshua comes late, and more significantly, causes bedlam by independently terrozing and beating the customers of the bank, nor does he promptly get in the getaway car when the heist is over. As punishment, Joshua is flogged by the rest of his gang. Joshua returns home and Jason realizes how badly he's been beaten, so he confronts the leader of the gang, Alonzo (Treach), and the two have a vicious fight in a public restroom. Jason then meets Lyric at the bayou and tells her that he can't leave with her and that his nightmares occur because he killed his father when he was a child and that's why he feels obligated to his family. Things get worse when Joshua hears his mother tell Jason to leave town with Lyric because he doesn't owe her or Joshua anything. Joshua believes that Jason is leaving not only because of Lyric, but because Alonzo may take revenge. Joshua plans to kill them all in order to keep his brother from leaving. Jason hears about Joshua's plan and heads to Alonzo/Lyric's house, but he's too late. He see's what has happened and rushes upstairs looking for Lyric. He finds that Joshua has a gun pointed at her neck. He draws a gun, as well and is able to convince Joshua not to kill her, but he accidentally pulls the trigger and shoots her on the right-side of her shoulder. Jason carries her out of the home to a growing crowd outside the house. Lyric is injured, but still alive. However, Joshua is too fed up with his life and decides to end it all by killing himself (offscreen), in earshot of everyone outside. The film ends with Jason and Lyric riding a bus, leaving town, however some versions do not show this part.