Menace II Society
|Menace II Society|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Allen Hughes
|Produced by||Darin Scott|
|Written by||Tyger Williams|
|Story by||Allen Hughes
Jada Pinkett Smith
Samuel L. Jackson
|Music by||Quincy Jones III (credited as QD III)|
|Editing by||Christopher Koefoed|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Release dates||May 26, 1993|
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$27.9 million|
Menace II Society is a 1993 drama/hood film and the directorial debut of twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes. Set in South Central Los Angeles, the film follows the life of a hoodlum named Caine Lawson and his close friends. It gained notoriety for its scenes of violence, profanity, and drug-related content. Menace II Society was critically acclaimed for its gritty portrayal of urban violence and its powerful underlying messages.
Caine Lawson and his best friend Kevin Anderson (O-Dog) enter a local store to buy malt liquor, as the Korean storekeeper and his wife eye them suspiciously. As they begin to leave an argument ensues where the shopkeeper says "I feel sorry for your mother", so O-Dog shoots him and his wife. He then takes the store video surveillance tape and empties the cash register. In a flashback, it is revealed that Caine’s father was a dope dealer who was killed in a drug deal when Caine was ten, and his mother was a heroin addict who later died of an overdose, as a result he went to go live with his grandparents. Later, Caine and his cousin Harold are carjacked and Harold is murdered, with Caine shot. O-Dog informs Caine that he has learned the identity of the carjackers. He and Caine then find the assailants and kill them.
Caine and O-Dog are hired by a local hood Chauncy, for a car insurance scheme but are caught in the process and arrested by police. A detective attempts to link Caine to the store killings by matching fingerprints. Once released, Caine, buys a new car from a chop shop and robs a local hustler for his Dayton wheels. Caine than purchases a large quantity of cocaine to cook into crack cocaine in order to sell. Caine begins to enjoy his new hustler life with his crew, meeting a local girl named Ilena. Caine's friend Ronnie tells him that she has found a job in Atlanta and invites him to come with her. Later, Caine tells Ronnie that he will accompany her to Atlanta.
Before leaving for Atlanta, Caine gets into an altercation with Ilena's cousin, who comes to Caine's house. They have a small exchange with Ilena's cousin berating Caine to which Caine replies "So what, now we're going to fight over a bitch?", after that Caine cheapshots Ilena's cousin and proceeds to kick him while he's down. Moments later, it is shown that Ilena's cousin says he has to take care of his business, leading the events ahead.
Ilena's cousin and a gang of gunmen execute a drive-by shooting on the house during which Sharif is killed and Caine is fatally wounded, just as Caine was packing the car to move to Atlanta. As Caine slowly dying in Stacy's arms, seeing flashbacks of the events that led to this final moment, he realizes that "in the end it all catches up with you".
- Tyrin Turner - Kaydee (Caine) Lawson
- Larenz Tate - Kevin (O-Dog) Anderson
- Jada Pinkett - Ronnie
- Samuel L. Jackson - Tat Lawson
- MC Eiht - A-Wax
- Glenn Plummer - Pernell
- Clifton Powell - Chauncy
- Marilyn Coleman - Mrs. Lawson
- Arnold Johnson - Thomas Lawson
- Pooh-Man - Doc
- Julian Roy Doster - Anthony
- Too Short - Lew-Loc
- Jermaine "Huggy" Hopkins - Tyrone
- Khandi Alexander - Karen Lawson
- Vonte Sweet - Sharif Butler
- Ryan Williams - Stacy
- Bill Duke - Detective
- Dwayne L. Barnes - Basehead
- Charles S Dutton - Mr. Butler
- Garen Holoman - Junior
- Brandon Hammond - Five Year Old Caine
- Saafir - Harold Lawson
- Cynthia Calhoun - Jackee
- Erin Leshawn Wiley - Ilena
- Samuel Monroe Jr. - Ilena's Cousin
- Clifton Collins Jr. - Vato #2
Originally, Tupac Shakur was set to play Sharif and rapper Spice 1 to play Caine, but they were later fired with director Allen Hughes claiming that Shakur was causing trouble on the set. Six months after the firing, Shakur assaulted the director, resulting in Shakur being found guilty of assault and battery. Shakur did not want to play the role of Sharif, as he did not agree (in regards to the authenticity of such a role) that a Muslim could also be a gangbanger. He is quoted as saying saying the following in a video interview,
"I said okay, cool... fire me from this $100,000 movie, because I ain't goin' play no gangbanger who's a Muslim. There ain't no such thing (as that), I refuse to play parts that don't exist. I will be a young nigga, but will be a real young nigga."
The movie featured realistic dialogue, and is known for its crude and profane language. The word "fuck" and its derivatives are used 300 times in the 97-minute film. This was a record up to that time and the film still holds one of the highest fuck per minute rates at 3.07 times per minute. The movie was edited for an R-rating; edited scenes included Samuel L. Jackson's character's killing of the man in the poker scene, the shooting of the red-sweatered gang member by A-Wax, and Caine's death at the end. This was all reinstated in the director's cut. The director's cut was first released on laserdisc, then released on DVD in 2008. The film's first DVD release was the R-rated theatrical version. The director's cut has since been re-rated R for strong bloody violence, drug use and pervasive language (instead of strong violence, drug use and language). An additional scene was also added, showing Caine and O-Dog breaking into a car in the garage. But according to the Hughes brothers, a prison riot scene, which was cut by the studio to avoid an NC-17 rating, has not been restored.
Menace II Society received generally positive reviews from critics. The film scored an 85% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 35 reviews. Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum stated, "This is a powerful, convincing, and terrifying look at teenage crime in contemporary Watts." Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly gave it a positive review, stating, "Menace II Society is bleak, brilliant, and unsparing." EmanuelLevy.com gave the film an A, saying it is "The most stunning feature debut in the new African American cinema, even more so than Boyz n the Hood to which the coming of age feature bears thematic resemblance." The film was placed on both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's 10 best films of 1993 lists, with Ebert praising "the way the filmmakers tell Caine's story without making him seem either the hero or victim".
The film received some negative reviews. Geoff Andrew of Time Out stated, "Regrettably, the Hughes Brothers' first feature is a compendium of cliches." Stephen Holden of The New York Times stated, "If Menace II Society is terrific on ambiance, it is considerably less successful in revealing character." At the 1994 MTV Movie Awards, the film was awarded Best Movie, beating out the likes of Philadelphia, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List. The film also won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography.
- The Boondocks, a cartoon series on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, has incorporated quotes from the movie into the dialogue of the character voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. "Thank You for Not Snitching" (season 2, episode 3) parodies the interrogation scene, and in "Ballin'", Uncle Ruckus calls Riley O-Dog during a basketball game.
- One episode of the short lived TV series, The Critic, features main character Jay Sherman reviewing a movie titled Dennis the Menace II Society, in which Dennis the Menace pulls out two machine guns and shoots up George Wilson's house.
- The 1996 Wayans Brothers spoof, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, based its main storyline mostly on the movie. Multiple characters from the movie parody those of Menace II Society, such as Marlon Wayans' character named "Loc Dog".
- The Simpsons spoofed the film in one episode, wherein Lisa and Homer watch a short cartoon starring Ludacris, called "Menace Tooth Society".
- In the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, members of the Grove Street Families resemble O-Dog. In the mission "Ryder", the pizza shop clerk says to Ryder, "I feel sorry for your dad", echoing what the Korean liquor store clerk says to O-Dog in the beginning of the movie. A few actors from the film, notably Samuel L. Jackson, MC Eiht, Clifton Powell, Yo-Yo, and Clifton Collins, Jr., appeared as many of the main characters in San Andreas. Additionally, the start of the game contains a scene wherein the main character is left in rival gang territory.
- A number of rap songs by Snoop Doggy Dogg featuring The Dogg Pound, 50 Cent, The Game, Jay-Z, and T.I. have made reference to Menace II Society. Also Jadakiss has a line in a verse on the Ruff Ryders Anthem (remix): "give it to you at the lights like Cains cousin Harold" In Doggy Dogg World, Kurupt raps: "I'm going out looney like O-Dog."
- Gucci Mane's album "The Appeal" has a song titled "ODog" featuring Wyclef Jean.
- Lupe Fiasco's song "Double Burger With Cheese", which in the title itself is a reference to a scene from the film, makes numerous references to the film and includes dialogue from the scene where Caine robs a man of his car and has the man order him a "Double burger with cheese."
- In the debut album of rapper Lil Zane, Young World: The Future, in the track "Ride On 'Em", you can hear at the end O-Dog and his infamous quote before the shooting of the carjackers:"You act like a lil bitch rite now, you act all paranoid and shit..."
- Immortal Technique, in his song "Angels and Demons", quotes the main character's line, "Young, black, and don't give a fuck".
- ASAP Rocky's song 1 Train contain's a reference to the character O-Dog with the line, "Braids like I'm O-Dog/My la familia go hard."
- In Chief Keef's song featuring Philthy Rich "Menace II Society", scenes of the film are depicted.
- The music video for the rap song 'Chunk Up The Deuce' (with Paul Wall, Lil Keke, and Bun B) paid homage to the film where the interrogation scene depicted in the video was based on the scene where Caine was grilled by Bill Duke (seen in the film as a detective).
- "Menace II Society (1993)". Box Office Mojo. 1993-07-27. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
- Jet - Google Books. Books.google.ca. 1994-02-28. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "2pac Turning Down Menace 2 Society". YouTube. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- Randall Sullivan, Labyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G... page 80
- "Violent 'Menace' drawing accolades from unlikely fans". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- "Blog Archive » Menace II Society". JonathanRosenbaum.net. 1993-06-04. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- Reviewed by Owen Gleiberman (1993-05-28). "Menace II Society Review | Movie Reviews and News". EW.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "Welcome to Emanuel Levy » Menace II Society". Emanuellevy.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "'SCHINDLER'S LIST' TOPS SISKEL'S & EBERT'S EAGERLY AWAITED '10 BEST FILMS OF 1993' - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. 1993-12-27. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "Menace II Society :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "Menace II Society Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- Holden, Stephen (1993-05-26). "Movie Review - Menace II Society - Review/Film; Teen-Agers Living Under the Gun - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- "1994 MTV Movie Awards | Past Movie Awards | Awards Show Highlights and Winners". MTV.com. 1994-06-04. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- Jaxon Brooks (2007-05-21). "Simpons: Menace Tooth Society". Seattle: MilkandCookies. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
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- Menace II Society at the Internet Movie Database
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- Menace II Society at Box Office Mojo