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Menace II Society

by

Roger Davidson

Menace II Society
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A slightly bleaker look at the territory covered in the more optimistic Boyz N the Hood, it follows two particular black males who rob, steal, cheat, kill, drink and physically and verbally abuse everybody in sight. Caine (Tyrin Turner), whose life has been mostly filled with drugs and violence, can't see any hopes in his future. So, he spends most of his time dealing drugs, car-jacking people and taking part in drive-by shootings. However, Turner's the Good Samaritan, next to his friend, the unrepentant killer O-Dog (Larenz Tate). The only sympathetic person in his life is the single mother Ronnie (Jada Pinkett), who refuses to let Turner go down a bloody path, the way her jailed boyfriend ended up going.

The solid directorial debut of the Hughes Brothers (Allen and Albert) paints a dark portrait of LA, full of people not willing to leave their violent lifestyles as the characters in Boyz N the Hood wanted to. Though it's hard to root for anyone in here, Turner does turn in a performance that has certain tender elements. He doesn't get sympathy for his violent actions, but his character does not expect it. He has no specific hopes or dreams, save for the fact that he wants to live to see his next birthday. Pinkett offers excellent support, as a black female character who can be intelligent, compassionate, as well as both masculine and feminine, all in the same scene. But it's Tate's brilliant performance as probably the most vehement movie killer since Hannibal Lecter. This violent, tragic, brutally realistic film does not let up one moment, from the shocking opening sequence in the grocery store to the tragic final scene, where Turner finally does something noble and sacrifices his life for that of Pinkett's young son.

My Rating = Four Stars


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