Real life hip hop stars Pras and Ja Rule star as an ambitious young rapper and his violent best friend/producer in "Turn It Up," a film spawned by Pras' song "Ghetto Superstar," which appeared on the soundtrack for Warren Beatty's bold political satire "Bulworth."

But while these two recording artists do a sincere and effective job making their characters feel true-to-life and depicting the ugly side of the rap label biz, the movie adheres to a formula of "money, drugs and 'hos" (to quote Ja Rule's character) that is neither ambitious nor bold.

With a pretty standard edge-of-the-ghetto backdrop and a plot concerning what Pras' perfectionist proto-rapper is willing to do to make his dream come true, "Turn It Up" mixes the predictable (a ruthless drug kingpin, a pregnant girlfriend, an absentee father looking for redemption) with a few Hong Kong-style shootouts that making killing look cool as long as you're killing people less moral than yourself.

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