The inside story behind the Biggie and Tupac murder investigations is laid bare using police case files, taped confessions never before shown on film, and interviews with lead detective Greg Kading and other witnesses.
Xavien T. Bailey,
I. Elijah Baughman
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In 1997, rap superstars Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls, The Notorious B.I.G.) were gunned down in separate incidents, the apparent victims of hip hop's infamous east-west rivalry. Nick Broomfield's film introduces Russell Poole, an ex-cop with damning evidence that suggests the LAPD deliberately fumbled the case to conceal connections between the police, LA gangs and Death Row Records, the label run by feared rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight. Written by
Russell Poole - LAPD Detective:
I almost took my life, but it was my kids that actually saved me. Okay? And, uh... it hurt. I was betrayed by my own department, because of the core values that the Los Angeles police department preached from day one. Honesty. Integrity, okay? Tell the truth, swear to tell the truth; nothing but the truth - so help you God. Do a good job, do a thorough job, work for the community. I believed in the oath of office. I believed in protect and serving the people. I really did, but on the inside and...
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Great documentary despite Broomfield's bumbling style
Filmmaker Nick Broomfield decides to take up the investigation into the murders of Biggie and Tupac in 1996/97. Taking his starting point to be an officer who claims he was discouraged from his investigation and forced off the job due to the involvement of other officers. His investigation leads him to uncover links to the FBI and fingers of suspicion that point all the way to the imprisoned head of Death Row Records, Suge Knight himself.
Broomfield has had good documentaries and bad documentaries, this is one of his best efforts and is actually very good work and may help the actual investigation. The basic story sees Broomfield stumbling into various interviews as a sort of wide-eyed innocent. His style can be a little annoying at times and also his voice is quite monotonous but his material is griping.
From the one officer that starts his trail, Broomfield uncovers lot of insightful stuff that shows a much bigger picture that has not been publically seen before. For example the FBI were trailing Biggie and Puffy hours before they got killed and had been for quite some time so where were they when they got shot? Asks Lil' Caese why didn't they at least catch the gunman? The conspiracy Broomfield puts forward is quite extreme but the evidence and the witnesses are there at every stage to back it up. By the time Knight is interviewed the case is pretty much made.
The film makes very good use of old footage including the East/West kick-off at an awards ceremony and old footage of Tupac in the studio and Biggie rapping live at outdoor shows. The atcual interviews are all good and mostly very illuminating. Knight is quite intimidating but is clearly putting on a face. Lil' Caese is helpful as are many of the bodyguards and cops but the best interviews are with Biggie's mum she doesn't have many facts but she really helps Biggie be a real person rather than just a larger than life rapper. The gaps are as prominent as the people why no Puffy, why no Snoop, why no Faith Evans etc. However those that are involved all provide a lot of information.
The music is good throughout (if you're into hip-hop) but can someone tell me why Gangstarr were used several times in favour of the artist's own stuff?
Overall this is a must see for all hip-hop fans, but it is also a good view for those who like conspiracy theories. Broomfield's style is a little annoying but the pace and depth of the material is gripping and makes for very, very interesting viewing.
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