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Menace II Society (1993)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  26 May 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 37,028 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 93 user | 24 critic | 19 from

A young street hustler attempts to escape the rigors and temptations of the ghetto in a quest for a better life.


(as The Hughes Brothers) , (as The Hughes Brothers)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Grocery Store Woman (as June Kyoko Lu)
Grocery Store Man
Anthony Johnson ...
Brandon Hammond ...
Five Year Old Caine
Reginald Ballard ...
Karen Lawson
Eugene Lee ...
Man #1
Man #2 (as James Pickins Jr.)
Teacher (as Nancy Cheryl Davis)
Jullian Roy Doster ...
Ronnie (as Jada Pinkett)


This urban nightmare chronicles several days in the life of Caine Lawson, following his high-school graduation, as he attempts to escape his violent existence in the projects of Watts, CA. Written by Daniel Bredy <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This is the truth. This is what's real.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 May 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Straßenkämpfer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)


$27,900,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Spice 1 was originally cast as Caine Lawson. See more »


In the beginning of the driving scene with A Wax, O-Dog and Caine, the police escort as well as a crew van can be seen following them out the rear window See more »


Pernell: [during a visit to the penitentiary] It's been a long time, Caine. How you doin', man? How come you never come see me?
Caine: [looking down] Man, I don't want to see you all caged up like some animal.
Pernell: Is that what you think? I'm a animal?
Caine: Nah...
[looks up, almost in tears]
Caine: When I was growin' up... you was like my dad, man.
Pernell: [takes the phone away from his ear in disbelief, only to return it] Your letters... in the beginning... it got me through, young bra. Away from my girl, away from my baby, away from you...
See more »


Referenced in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) See more »


Written by Lord Jamar (as L. DeChalus), Sadat X (as D. Murphy) and DJ Sincere (as T. Perry)
Performed by Brand Nubian
Courtesy of Elektra Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Meaning in the violence
27 January 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Boyz N the Hood" was a landmark film and certainly is one of the best movies of the 1990s. This is true but it was too preachy in the execution of its main themes. Director John Singleton has never matched it (and probably never will) but has come close with such hard-hitting films as "Higher Learning", "Rosewood", "Shaft" and "Baby Boy". Don't get me wrong, I love "Boyz" and I know that Singleton is one of the finest African-American directors in Hollywood, it is just that I cannot get past the tiring preachiness that has become common in his films.

Now, you do not see that with the Hughes Brothers. They portray their films in a much more realistic fashion. One thing that has become a main criticism with the Hughes Brothers, is how they portray violence in their films. How else can you show violence in a movie without it looking completely fake? Just look at anything they've done and you notice how frighteningly realistic their subject matter is. Yes in this film, people are shot, beaten, and robbed, but it is done a brutal fashion that is realistic. If you've seen any music video or film that they have directed, you can easily make the claim that they are the best at what they do - portraying life as for what it is.

First look at "Menace II Society". This film upon its release in 1993, was instantly compared to "Boyz N the Hood". What separated the two, was their subject matter. "Boyz" focused on the positive side of living in the Los Angeles ghetto, which was South Central if I'm not mistaking. It also showed us Tre (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who tries to survive, despite his harsh surroundings. He grows up with a caring father (Laurence Fishburne) and it also shows him with his friends, many of whom are doomed to the legacy of street violence. "Menace" shows us the other, darker side of that picture. The story focuses on Caine (brilliantly played by Tyrin Turner) and his life after graduating from high school. It goes without saying that Caine is a criminal, but we come to sympathize with him, even though there is no way we can support his actions. He's a product of drug-pushing/using parents, witnessed murder before he was ten, was orphaned sometime later, and is now living with his God-fearing grandparents. Throughout the film, Caine and O-Dog (Larenz Tate) commit numerous crimes. You may think that the Hughes Brothers are glorifying that criminal image, but in fact, they are condemning it. If they were glorifying Caine and O-Dog's actions, then the Brothers would not show us the consequences of those actions.

Now look at their music videos. I cannot describe any 2Pac videos because I haven't seen any, but I can describe the Korn videos, both "Here To Stay" and "Thoughtless". Now before I go into this, I'll say that I'm a huge fan of rap, but I also enjoy some metal, Korn being the biggest thing metal I listen to. At first I wondered why the Hughes Brothers would direct music videos for a band like Korn, and then I listened to songs on their newest CD, titled "Untouchables". Right there on the first track I realized the connection between Korn and the Hughes Brothers - the Brothers trademark of naturalness of everyday life combined with Jonathan Davis' angst-filled and sometimes violent lyrics, which often describe his childhood in school. In Korn's "Here To Stay" video, we are shown the band (Davis, Brian Welch, James Shaffer, Reginald Arvizu and David Silveria), silhouetted against a huge snowing television screen. Throughout the video, images of the band are intercut with footage of the Gulf War, C-sections being performed, the L.A. riots, the 1986 Challenger explosion, police chases, animals attacking other animals, and at one point during the video, we are shown a police a car with the numbers "666" on the roof. As a grand finale, we are shown a twelve year-old boy sucked into the television screen after coming into contact with it. The relevance here is not the band itself, but the Hughes Brothers direction. The end shows how images of violence and destruction in the news affect our youth, just like in "Menace II Society" with Caine, who was young and was exposed to the same conditions as the boy in the video.

In Korn's "Thoughtless" video, we're shown a seventeen year-old boy who gets revenge on his classmates by showing up at prom with a hooker for a date and ends with him vomiting all over his classmates, while his hooker girlfriend is laughing the entire time. Again, the Brothers are showing us violence in youth, but doesn't show us the consequences of the boy's actions. He wanted revenge, he got it, but is he truly satisfied? The connection with the Brothers here is like in "Menace", showing that there is always consequences and you most likely will suffer. In the case of the boy, he will most likely end up warped and needing psychiatric help.

The Hughes Brothers have come under heavy scrutiny for just about everything they've ever worked on. This is largely because as I've already stated that their work is often very grim, but people often miss the fact that their work is often very optimistic about everything they talk about. Caine could have moved to Atlanta, the boy in the "Here To Stay" video could have simply turned off the television, and the boy in "Thoughtless" could have put everything behind him and start over.

As an African-American person myself from Virginia and living in a middle-class neighborhood no where near any of the areas I've described, I can't say for sure how accurate these films are (nor the music videos), but I can say that the Hughes Brothers, John Singleton and Korn truly bring out a glimpse of what life can be for some people.

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