Menace II Society

Viewed – 21 June 2010  Blu-ray

Back in the mid-nineties, movies set in the crime ridden slums of South Central Los Angeles and referred to as ‘hood’ movies were pretty much a genre unto themselves.  Dealing with the lives of young black Americans, who murder, deal drugs and try to survive, these were eye-opening and often shocking, and had an attitude and style with a gangsta-rap soundtrack that gave them for me at least, a very appealing aura.  

This much acclaimed and popular movie followed in the wake of the award-winning Boyz N The Hood and promised a warts and all, no holds barred take on ‘hood life.  The debut movie from directing siblings Allen & Albert Hughes (From Hell, The Book Of Eli), this follows Caine (Tyrin Turner) a teenager whose father was killed in a drug deal, his mother died of an overdose, and now mixes with local gangs, skips school and steals cars.  Although often preached to by his grand parents and school teachers – he knows no other life and seems to not really care if he lives or dies, as he goes from petty crime to murder, barely breaking a sweat.  Not helping his plight is friends such as O-Dog (Larenz Tate), a psychotic and deadly thug who will kill for fun then watch his own crime back on videotape with his friends.  This movie paints a blacker than black view of hood life and with Caine we get a lead character that’s very hard to sympathise with, as although having the opportunity to get out, finds it easier to continue his descent into crime, drugs and murder.  The Hughes Brother’s movie doesn’t even try to have a moral message – this is how it is (or was) and the hood is hell – you either get out or you die.  Not exactly something to make you come away smiling.   Which I think is ultimately the movie’s failing.  It lacks the coming of age structure of Boyz N The Hood or that movie’s hopeful meaning, and although this is packed with gun violence, attitude and a smoking soundtrack – with somewhat more mature eyes these days – I found it a rather shallow experience.   

The Blu-ray although a little light on extra features (a hit and miss commentary by the directors and crew, a making of and an interview with the Hughes Brothers), this does boast a very detailed image, a definite upgrade from DVD or VHS, and with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtracks – this is certainly exceptional treatment for a catalogue title.

Verdict:  3 /5


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