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Menace II Society 1993
Description: Sobering and incisive, this cautionary drama centers on a road tough 18-year-old facing a moral quandary while trying to turn his life around.
Released: 26 May 1993 Director: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes Writers: Allen Hughes (story), Albert Hughes (story), Tyger Williams (story), Tyger Williams (screenplay) Actors: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, June Kyoto Lu, Toshi Toda Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
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Menace II Society Reviews:

Extremely brutal, but gripping and compelling storyline of a volatile, alienated young teenager (Turner) growing up in the violent atmosphere of the L.A. Watts District and—against the tip of family and friends—makes no effort to transcend the harshness and ignorance of his surroundings, instead selecting to head down a dead-end path. Violent, almost unbearable at times, but faultlessly acted by the cast, and filled with powerful, authentic scenes. Tate is an absolute powerhouse as Turner's younger, impulsive, and extremely cold-blooded pal. Obviously not for all tastes, but a monumental achievement regardless, thanks to a superior cast of actors. ***½


The Hughes brothers made quite a splash with this film, making one of the greatest inner town movies since Men in the Hood. While I didn't care much for the voice overs, the ending to the movie proved to be bone chilling, especially after becoming so close to the characters who were killed. I felt Larenz Tate did an perfect job in his role as O-Dog. While too many folks focused on the violence in the movie, it really wasn't the focal point. It was really more about how the characters were conditioned, how they became used to the idea to random violence. A solid movie with some nice performances.


The directorial debut of twin brothers Albert and Allen Hughes, Menace II Society is a tough, no nonsense look at youthful black life in the Watts section of Los Angeles. The Hughes Brother's film charts the hapless life of Caine (Tyrin Turner) as he seeks to escape the ghetto. The son of both a drug dealer (Samuel L. Jackson in a potent appearance) and an addict, Tyrin, surrounded by guns and a machismo culture, is tied to his mates and the method of life afforded him. Even as love and a possibility of a method out arises with Jada Pinkett's (terrific) cute Ronnie, it's doubtful if Tyrin will escape from the revolving door of death.Menace II Society had a troubled beginning, refused a video certificate on the grounds of its profane language and brutally violent scenes, it has since gone on to be viewed as one of the finer exponents of anti-violence involving Black Americans. That wasn't everytime the situation though, many critics in the 90s were prone to calling it a movie that glamorises the lifestyle of "Hood" gangsters, but offered a saver of sorts by correctly telling it had realism in amongst the harshness. Certainly the dialogue and regional slang was refreshing to hear, thus affording "Menace" and its makers praise for keeping it real, so to speak.Ineviatbly comparisons were (are) drawn with John Singleton's 1991 film, Boyz n the Hood. But although "Menace" is rawer, uncompromising and more visceral with impact, it lacks the intelligence of Singleton's film. Where "Boyz" had totally rounded characters, hero with which to hang your hat on to, "Menace" is just a social group of youths we neither know or care about outside of the group, ego driven dynamic. When lead protagonist Tyrin is trying to deal with his inner conflict, we the audience are treated to standard run of the mill melodrama. The streetwise edginess that the Hughes' began their movie with (the opening is nigh on horrific) has long since gone as they test to create a movie that touches all the bases of Black Americana.Easily the most realistic of all the ghetto movies made, in fact the movie at times feels like we are on a documentary drive around downtown Watts. Menace II Society, however brutal it clearly is, has loaded the gun and shot the bullet, only to see it narrowly miss the entire goal it was aiming for. Still it's one hell of an experience though. 8/10



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