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Menace II Society (1993)

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

Directors:

Albert Hughes (as The Hughes Brothers), Allen Hughes (as The Hughes Brothers)

Writers:

Allen Hughes (story), Albert Hughes (story) | 2 more credits »
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3,304 ( 829)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyrin Turner ... Caine
Larenz Tate ... O-Dog
June Kyoto Lu ... Grocery Store Woman (as June Kyoko Lu)
Toshi Toda ... Grocery Store Man
Samuel L. Jackson ... Tat Lawson
Anthony Johnson ... Tony
Brandon Hammond ... Five Year Old Caine
Glenn Plummer ... Pernell
Reginald Ballard ... Clyde
Khandi Alexander ... Karen Lawson
Eugene Lee Eugene Lee ... Man #1
James Pickens Jr. ... Man #2 (as James Pickins Jr.)
Nancy Cheryll Davis Nancy Cheryll Davis ... Teacher (as Nancy Cheryl Davis)
Jullian Roy Doster Jullian Roy Doster ... Anthony
Jada Pinkett Smith ... Ronnie (as Jada Pinkett)
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Storyline

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 <gt3655a@prism.gatech.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 May 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Straßenkämpfer See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$27,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

New Line Cinema See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A-Wax used a two-tone IMI Desert Eagle Mark VII when he, Caine, and O-Dog execute the carjackers at the take-out food stand. It is believed to be the .357 Magnum version, as A-Wax fired ten rounds (nine in the magazine and one in the chamber), but the prop weapon may be chambered in a larger caliber, since he fires ten rounds over the course of three takes (during which it's possible that the gun was reloaded off-camera between the takes). See more »

Goofs

Reflected in the security mirror as O-Dog drags the lady into the back room. See more »

Quotes

[Playing cards at a table]
Tat Lawson: Look here, man. Now that you been out the joint two weeks don't you think it's about time you gave me my money?
Man: Told you I ain't got your money yet, man.
Tat Lawson: 'da fuck you mean you ain't got my money yet? motherfuckin' everybody know about that money you hid from that robbery!
Man: mu'phucka I told you I ain't got your money yet, man!
Tat Lawson: [tilts head to the left]
Tat Lawson: 'Da fuck you mean you ain't got my money yet? muthafucka you best be comin' up wit' my cash or else you know what I'm ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

UK video, LaserDisc, and the initial DVD versions were cut to remove footage of O-Dog unlocking a car door by using a metal strip. The cuts were restored to the 2003 DVD. See more »

Connections

References Super Fly (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

PACKIN' A GUN
Written by Ant Banks (as A. Banks), S. Jordan, R. Gooden
Performed by Ant Banks
Courtesy of Jive Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I thought killing those fools would make me feel good, but it really didn't make me feel anything.
5 September 2009 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

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 movie 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 friends and the way of life afforded him. Even as love and a chance of a way out arises with Jada Pinkett's (terrific) pretty 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 always the case though, many critics in the 90s were prone to calling it a film that glamorises the lifestyle of "Hood" gangsters, but offered a saver of sorts by correctly saying 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 fully rounded characters, character 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 film with (the opening is nigh on horrific) has long since gone as they try to make a film that touches all the bases of Black Americana.

Easily the most realistic of all the ghetto films made, in fact the film 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 whole target it was aiming for. Still it's one hell of an experience though. 8/10


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