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
Starring Tyrin Turner
Jada Pinkett Smith
Samuel L. Jackson
Music by Quincy Jones III (credited as QD III) Distributed by New Line Cinema Release date(s) May 26, 1993 Running time 104 minutes Country USA Language English Budget $3.5 million Box office $27.9 million
Menace II Society is a 1993 urban crime drama and the directorial debut of twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes. Menace II Society is set in South Central Los Angeles and follows the life of a hoodlum named Caine Lawson and his close friends. The film gained notoriety for its frequent 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.
The film begins with a cold open as Caine and his best friend O-Dog enter a local store to buy two bottles of malt liquor as the Korean storekeeper and his wife eye them suspiciously. The couple repeatedly exhorts them to pay and leave, even as O-Dog and Caine approach the register to do so. An argument ensues and while Caine drinks his beer, the now irritated O-Dog shoots, kills and robs the storekeeper. He then kills the wife and takes the store video surveillance tape. Frightened, Caine drops his bottle and beckons his friend to flee the scene as Police sirens advance nearby.
The titles flash over stock footage of the Watts riots in the 60's and the dawn of of the drug age in South Central Los Angeles during the 70's. A short flashback shows a night in the life of young Cain and his parents, filled with partying, drinking, drugs and murder that hint at both of their eventual deaths. Pernell, a local hood and friend of Caine's father, served as his would-be mentor.
Years later, on the last day of high school, Caine visits Pernell's ex-girlfriend Ronnie and her son Anthony, who congratulate him on graduating while Pernell is now serving life in prison without parole. During a voice-over, he explains that he deals drugs to financially support himself and help Ronnie, while living with his grandparents in the LA housing project Jordan Downs.
That night, Caine and his cousin Harold go to a graduation party where they meet up with O-Dog, an old school street thug called A-Wax, the muslim Sharif and highschool football star Stacy. Cain reprimands O-Dog about showing the store video tape to entertain neighborhood friends. Later, while en route to meet the others at a local fastfood eatery, Harold and Caine are carjacked. The robbers murder Harold and shoot Caine in the shoulder who is rushed to the hospital afterwards by O-Dog and their crew. A week later, O-Dog informs Caine that he has learned the identity of the jackers and with A-Wax in tow, murder the assailants, exacting revenge.
Weeks later, 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. As a minor, O-Dog is released with a warning; Caine, however, being the age of eighteen, is charged as an adult. Although, the authorities lessen the charge to joyriding a detective attempts to link Caine to the store killings by matching fingerprints from the dropped beer bottle. Once released, Caine ups his game, buys a new car from a chop shop and robs a local hustler for his Dayton wheels, jewelry, and stereo.
Caine begins to enjoy his new hustler life with his crew, meeting a local girl named Ilena and shirking all ambition and responsibilities. One night, Caine and Sharif are pulled over and assaulted by racist police and left in Mexican gang territory to die. However, the local gang showed sympathy and take the wounded youths to a hospital. Ronnie visits Caine there, telling him that she has found a job in Atlanta and invites him to come with her. Caine agrees to consider it. A week later, at a going away party for Ronnie, Sharif and Stacy (moving to Kansas for college), Caine tells Ronnie that he will accompany her to Atlanta and the two consumate their relationship. Afterward, Chauncy tries to force himself on Ronnie and Caine, using O-Dog's Glock 19, savagely pistol-whips Chauncy. Later that night, Caine gets a phone call from Ilena, informing him that she is pregnant with his baby. Caine accuses her of lying and hangs up. Soon thereafter, Chauncy, harboring a grudge against Caine, turns over a copy of the store surveillance tape to the police, who begin scouring the area for Caine and O-Dog, now wanted in the killings.
Ronnie and Caine visit Pernell in prison, who gives the new couple his blessing, contrary to Caine's assumption that Pernell would be upset. Pernell also entreats Caine to take care for his son Anthony. Later that day, Caine and O-Dog are approached by a cousin of Ilena and after a fistfight, O-Dog stops Caine from stomping the man to death. This proves to be the last straw for Caine's grandparents who promptly throw him out of their house, despite his pleading.
Days later, at Ronnie's house, Caine, Ronnie, Stacy and Sharif are preparing to leave LA. Ilena's cousin and a gang of hooded gunmen execute a drive-by shooting on the house, exchanging gunfire with O-Dog, killing Sharif and fatally wounding Caine, who had drawn their fire to protect Anthony. In shock, O-Dog watches on as Caine lays bloody in Stacy's arms, seeing flashbacks of the events that led to this final moment. His dying thoughts, told in voiceover over a slowing heartbeat: "I guess, in the end, it all catches up with you. My grandpa asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah, I do... and now it's too late."
And with a gunshot, the screen blacks out.
- Tyrin Turner - Caine (Kaydee) 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 - Caine's grandmother
- Arnold Johnson - Caine's grandfather Thomas
- Pooh-Man - Doc
- Julian Roy Doster - Anthony
- Too Short - Lew-Loc
- 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
- Samuel Monroe Jr. - Ilena's Cousin
- Clifton Collins Jr. - Vato #2
Originally, Tupac Shakur was set to play Sharif and rapper Spice 1 was set to play Caine, but they were later fired with director Allen Hughes claiming that Tupac 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. Tupac did not want to play the role of Sharif, not being a Muslim. Tupac wanted to play O-Dog. They were later replaced with Larenz Tate and Tyrin Turner, respectively.
The movie featured realistic dialogue, and has become known for its frequent crude and profane language. For example, the word "fuck" and its derivatives are used 300 times in this 97-minute film (see: List of films that most frequently use the word "fuck"). 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 also slightly 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. The director's cut was first released on laserdisc, then released on DVD later 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). Several additional scenes were also added, including a scene showing Caine and O-Dog breaking into a car in the garage, the funeral of Caine's cousin, and a scene after the funeral. 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.
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 had its share of negative reviews as well. 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.
There have been many references to the movie in pop culture: Films and TV
- 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".
- On the episode of Moesha, Frank (William Allen Young) mentions the line "Bald Menace II Society" has been used on the second season episode in 1997, "Guess Q's Coming to Dinner".
- An Earthworm Jim game is called Menace II The Galaxy.
- 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.
- Songs by 50 Cent:
- In "High All the Time": "Sippin' Guinness watching Menace and Oh Lord, have a young nigga buckin shit like he O-Dog."
- In "I Run NY", Tony Yayo raps: "I'll beat your ass down like Cain did Chauncy".
- Songs by The Game:
- In a remix of Ja Rule's "New York": "It's the sequel to Menace and Oh Lord he done went O-Dog".
- In his song "Old English": "I was a menace to society, but I never left fingerprints on my Olde English".
- In his song "LAX Files": "I know the real O-Dog & that nigga know the real Game", and "Niggas think just because they watched Menace a couple of times".
- Songs by Jay-Z:
- In his remix of "Girls, Girls, Girls": "For now I get around, like the late Makaveli on Pirelli twenty inches, or Caine and O-Dog's stick-up tape from Menace".
- In his song "So Ghetto": "Iller than Verbal Kint is or O-Dog in "Menace"."
- In "Money, Cash, Hoes (Remix)", Memphis Bleek raps: "Wanna be a menace so you got Caine in you, I put them thangs in you".
- Songs by T.I.:
- Freeway raps: "You're like the beer Caine dropped in Menace, 40 and broke."
- In Jim Jones's video for his song "Certified Gangstas", he and rapper The Game have a conversation with the Asian owners of a liquor store that is word-for-word from the film's script.
- In his No Ceilings mixtape track "Ice Cream", Lil Wayne raps: "Hold a gun sideways like O-Dog, shoot a nigga in his face knock his nose off."
- The song "Ride On 'Em", by rapper Lil' Zane, contains dialogue samples from this film.
- Young Jeezy's song "Air Forces" includes the line "And you already know, dog. 745 back to back me and O-Dog"
- Lupe Fiasco's song "Gutter" (featuring Stack Bundles) from the Lupe the Jedi mixtape contains the line: "I'm the illest crime caught on tape, since Caine and O-Dog"
- In Snoop Dogg's song "Doggy Dogg World" from Doggystyle, featured rapper Kurupt says: "You really don't know, do you, you fuckin' wit' a hog / You can't do me, I'm goin out loony like O-Dog"
- Gucci Mane's album "The Appeal" has a song titled "ODog" featuring Wyclef Jean
- Big Sean's song "Fat Rap's Remix Mentions Cain from Menace
- Songs by Juvenile
- In his song "Bounce Back" off of his 2003 platinum selling album Juve The Great he rapped: "Menace II Society is all we watched in the backseat strapped with the throw away glock"
- Jadakiss raps in the song "Ryde Or Die" off of the Ryde Or Die Vol. 1 Compilation "Give it to em at the light like Caines cousin Harold"
- Royce Da 5'9 in Bad Meets Evil' "I'm On Everything" off of Hell: The Sequel. "Menace to society I feel sorry for your mother, Me and Vicious on ‘shrooms
- Lil Boosie raps "Bitch you wanna come in that south, where it get dumb in that drought
Where nigga's wild out like O-dog and run in your house" Call us the Mario brothers."
- In the Snoop Dogg music video for Gin & Juice at the drive in theater Menace II Society is shown on the sign along with the Who Am I (What's My Name) Music video.
- ^ "Menace II Society (1993)". Box Office Mojo. 1993-07-27. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=menaceiisociety.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
- ^ Jet - Google Books. Books.google.ca. 1994-02-28. http://books.google.ca/books?id=vcADAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=tupac+to+play+shariff#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ 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. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-07-01/features/1993182015_1_menace-ii-society-michael-medved-violence. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ "Blog Archive » Menace II Society". JonathanRosenbaum.com. 1993-06-04. http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.com/?p=7093. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ Reviewed by Owen Gleiberman (1993-05-28). "Menace II Society Review | Movie Reviews and News". EW.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,306697,00.html. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ "Welcome to Emanuel Levy » Menace II Society". Emanuellevy.com. http://www.emanuellevy.com/review/menace-ii-society-3/. 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. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/%27SCHINDLER%27S+LIST%27+TOPS+SISKEL%27S+%26+EBERT%27S+EAGERLY+AWAITED+%2710+BEST...-a014742445. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ "Menace II Society :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19930526/REVIEWS/305260301/1023. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ "Menace II Society Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/73057/menace_ii_society.html. 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. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9F0CE3DC1231F935A15756C0A965958260. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ "1994 MTV Movie Awards | Past Movie Awards | Awards Show Highlights and Winners". MTV.com. 1994-06-04. http://www.mtv.com/ontv/movieawards/1994/. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
- ^ http://www.spiritawards.com/files/SPIRIT%20AWARDS_26%20Years%20of%20Nominees%20and%20Winners.pdf
- ^ Jaxon Brooks (2007-05-21). "Simpons: Menace Tooth Society". Seattle: MilkandCookies. http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/62187/detail/. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
- Menace II Society at the Internet Movie Database
- Menace II Society at AllRovi
- Menace II Society at Rotten Tomatoes
- Menace II Society at Metacritic
- Menace II Society at Box Office Mojo
Films directed by the Hughes Brothers 1990s 2000sFrom Hell (2001) 2010sThe Book of Eli (2010) MTV Movie Award for Best MovieTerminator 2: Judgment Day (1992) • A Few Good Men (1993) • Menace II Society (1994) • Pulp Fiction (1995) • Seven (1996) • Scream (1997) • Titanic (1998) • There's Something About Mary (1999) • The Matrix (2000) • Gladiator (2001) • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2002) • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2003) • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2004) • Napoleon Dynamite (2005) • Wedding Crashers (2006) • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2007) • Transformers (2008) • Twilight (2009) • The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2010) • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2011)
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