Menace II Society

Year: 1993
Director: Albert Hughes/Allen Hughes
Writer: Albert Hughes/Allen Hughes
Cast: Jada Pinkett Smith, Samuel L Jackson
Extremely nasty, what must be the most violent and nihilistic of the Compton dramas in the vein of Boyz N the Hood.

At the heart, a tale of how violence begets itself and how justice is never served from the barrel of a gun. Plenty of good people get it, some of the worst survive scot free. But it's just a Day In The Life Of style story, you know that everything you do is going to come back to you no matter how insignificant it seemed at the time. Especially when so many angry young males are driving round in six-fours packing heat, sporting forties and gunning for street glory.

It doesn't take a black and white view - the hero, Kaidee, is talented but not above the lawlessness he lives among. Egged on by what must be one of the nastiest movie villains in ages, his friend O Dog, Kaydee uses his fists and his gun plenty, so you have a very hard time cheering for him, hoping he gets out. His decent grandparents (who took him in after the deaths of his hood drug pusher and addict parents), the woman who may be his soulmate (Smith) and her young son who looks up to him all suffer because of him.

The Hughes brothers went on to much bigger and better things, including their expansion on the black experience to the Vietnam War and the dislocation felt by returning veterans in Dead Presidents and the brilliant From Hell, but this was their calling card.

It doesn't have a particularly strong or cohesive storyline but it's very uncomfortable viewing. Ironically, it's movies like this - mostly made by young black filmmakers - that aroused so much terror in white middle America about black gangs in the inner cities, and guys like Singleton and the Hughes brothers seem to have done themselves as much of a disservice as anything.

© 2011-2024 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au