The Hughes Brothers’ iconic 1993 film Menace II Society was the darling of that year’s Cannes Film Festival. The gritty tale follows Caine Lawson, a recent high school graduate and felonious resident of Los Angeles’s infamous Jordan Downs housing projects. The picture was a critical and commercial success, recouping its three million dollar budget nine times over and joining the gangster film canon as well as the cult subgenre known as the Hood Classic. It even won the Best Movie award at the 1994 MTV Movie awards, beating out Oscar winnning pictures Schindler’s List and Philadelphia.
Identical twins Albert and Allen Hughes’ shot their debut feature film when they were twenty years old, and screenwriter Tyger Williams penned Menace‘s script at the age of twenty-four. Their legacy beyond creating one of the Mount Rushmore gangster films is that they helped cement young, black Hollywood’s place in the spotlight alongside other early 1990s auteurs such as Spike Lee, John Singleton, Reginald Hudlin, F. Gary Gray and Robert Townsend.
That said, this movie sucks balls. Menace II Society is trash; let’s find out why.
TUPAC WHOOPED ALLEN HUGHES’ ASS BECAUSE THE SCRIPT WAS SO BAD
It’s fairly well known that Tupac was slated to play the role of Caine’s muslim friend Sharif, and that he was fired from the movie after butting heads with the Hugheses. However, the reason behind Tupac and the Hughes Brothers’ problems wasn’t elucidated until fairly recently.
But before we get into that, let’s delve into some history.
Just before Tupac reached megastardom, he got the Hughes Bros to direct the music videos for each of his singles from his first album, 2pacalypse Now. A nice bone to throw to a couple of upstart filmmakers. In 1992, Allen and Albert were able to get New Line Cinema to fund Menace under one condition: they had to cast a platinum recording artist. MC Ren (the original A-Wax casting that when to MC Eiht [?]) and Spice 1 (the original Cain casting) left the project.
So who did they call? Their close personal friend, Tupac Shakur. Now, back to the ass whooping.
At a preliminary table read, Tupac took issue with the character he was portraying. Apparently, he thought Sharif lacked characterization and that a teenage Islam-convert hanging out with this group of dastardly friends was unrealistic. Characterization was thrown out the window; this same sentiment was echoed in several reviews of the film.
A good filmmaker is a good delegator and an even better appeaser. The Hughes Brothers are not good filmmakers.
Rather than convince Tupac to finish the table read and discuss the script at a later time, Allen Hughes called Tupac a “bitch.” Tupac left the reading session and, effectively, the movie. The next time they saw one another, Allen Hughes had a dozen crips feeding him knuckle sandwiches in broad daylight.
CAINE IS A TERRIBLE DRUG DEALER
Caine may be the worst crack dealer of all time. Let’s go through the tape.
In this scene, Caine does his daily walk through Jordan Downs, canvassing the neighborhood for folks who may be interested in crack. And they said the days of the door-to-door salesman were dead.
Ah! A customer!
In this shot, here is Caine REACHING INTO HIS POCKETS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT FOR CRACK THAT IS IN HIS POCKETS, WHICH EVERYONE CAN CLEARLY SEE.
And finally, here’s the hand-to-hand as Caine looks out for police.
RONNIE IS AN ABSURDLY TERRIBLE MOTHER
Ronnie, played by Jada Pinkett, does a terrible job of raising Anthony while her child’s father is locked away in prison. She also has terrible taste in men, but there’s not enough time in the day to talk about how short she falls in that category.
Being a single parent is hard enough without having to live in one of the most dangerous areas in the country. Ronnie compounds the difficulty by allowing murderers, drug dealers, drug users and other shades of miscreants to regularly come around her elementary aged son. Why she’s shocked that he’s using profanity and asking to drink beer should be a mystery to all of us.
In the third act of the film, Ronnie throws a going-away party for herself and Stacy, who are moving to Atlanta and Kansas, respectively. She’s inexplicably invites O-Dog (murder and drug dealer), Too Short’s character (cocaine dealer), A-Wax (murderer and drug dealer), Sharif (buzzkill), the rapper Yo-Yo (loud), and Clifton Powell, who ends up sexually assaulting her during the party.
So, where’s Anthony? She’s locked him in his room to play video games the whole night, presumably Mortal Kombat or Custer’s Revenge. After checking in on Anthony, she leaves him alone and goes to have sex with Caine. At this point it becomes clear that she’s just irresponsible on every level. The party is still going, she still has felons in her house, and Anthony is still awake. She couldn’t wait two hours to get her back blown out?
FELLATIO KILLS EVERYONE
Dick sucking kills no less than three people in Menace II Society.
This isn’t a special form of enchanted dick sucking, there’s no voodoo doll or mummy’s curse that precedes the dick sucking. It’s just dick sucking in general that’s the trigger for the deaths of Caine, Sharif, the crackhead that O-Dog kills, and the guy Caine’s dad kills.
Caine is killed by Ilena’s cousin, and Sharif dies after getting caught in the crossfire. Why did he kill Caine? Because Caine got his dick sucked by Ilena, and something else about not wanting to help take care of the baby he created with her.
What were the last words that crackhead said to O-Dog? “I’LL SUCK YO DICK!”
The last words of the man who insulted Caine’s dad? “You better suck my DICK!”
The ethos of Menace II Society would appear to be that fellatio, be it in theory or in practice, leads directly to a violent demise.
The bad doesn’t stop there. Half of the film plays out in the form of expository narration. The film’s best acting performances come from Bill Duke and Too Short. The sound editing is remarkably poor, even for a low budget film. Tupac shouldn’t have just whooped Allen Hughes’ ass, he should have faded the entire production crew and cast for squeezing this turd of a movie out. Pour a little out for Cousin Harold and the 90 minutes you wasted by watching this trash.