Menace II Society - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Menace II Society Reviews

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April 17, 2017
This film is impressive to say the least. Through the use of violence, crime, and several other aspects in this movie, the Hughes brothers were able to create a powerful message. This movie clearly portrays a message that each choice an individual makes can have an impact on his life, specifically about whether he is going to live or die.
April 9, 2017
Hard core gangster movie. One of the best of the 90's black gangster movies. Tells the story about a black kid who is obviously a dangerous thug, but is trying to change his ways. It can be a bit preachy at times, but its still one of my favorite movies. The first scene in the movie scared the hell out of me.
½ March 8, 2017
Menace II Society is a movie about the dangerous cycle of violence among black men in the ghettos of Los Angeles. It's one of those movies that might cover the subject well, but I felt like I had seen it a dozen times before. It's definitely hard to watch, but not in a thought-provoking or deep way. It almost feels like the movie is telling us "Look how broken their world is, and there is nothing you can do about it." The portrayals feel authentic, and the story seems like something that could actually happen. I didn't enjoy the voice-over because it was needless almost every time it came in. In fact, there were a few moments where the voice-over literally told us what Caine was feeling, and I would think that's the job of the actor to make us see that. The best part of the film was the way they showed some flashbacks of Caine's life growing up, and then had scenes later that echoed back to that past. It worked to connect the dots between the environment he was raised in and who he grew up to become. I think movies like this are necessary, but that doesn't make them enjoyable. I struggled with watching Menace II Society and left it feeling depressed and distraught. Some would applaud the film for impacting the viewer in that way, but I usually seek something more enjoyable in film.
February 16, 2017
I never understood the hype with this.

Although a lot nastier a poor Boyz N the Hood from The Hughes Brothers.
February 12, 2017
Gut wrenching urban drama about the choices in adversity.
February 2, 2017
Blah. I finally decided to watch this movie because...well why not. I didn't enjoy it, nobody to root for and everyone was just damn ignorant, disrespectful and dumb. I can't relate to that life so there's nothing in it for me to give props to. Just damn sad....
½ January 14, 2017
Thought-provoking, inspired, and unflinchingly honest, "Menace II Society" resembles "Mean Streets" crossed with "Boyz n the Hood."
½ January 10, 2017
A powerful and gritty drama that while not as polished as Boys in da Hood is just as effective.
December 21, 2016
If Boyz N the Hood was about hope being obtainable by youths born and raised in the ghetto, then Menace to Society is the far more violent equivalent, about the grim reality of ghetto youths who don't have that hope. There's no sugarcoating here.
November 29, 2016
What the Hughes brothers manage to do with their film is paint a deadly accurate and empathetic picture that does not follow cliches and stays true to its history and environment.
Its message and amount of detail is more than enough to warrant repeated viewings. It is, to put it bluntly, an important film.
It stands right on par with the equally masterful "Boyz N The Hood" as a film addressing this subject matter, but as a whole, it goes for a much darker direction.
October 24, 2016
Better than Boyz n the hood
July 5, 2016
My favorite movie ever!!
June 13, 2016
My all time favorite movie no movie is better to me
June 10, 2016
Classic Movie, with intense drama
June 1, 2016
Menace II society... that should be Menace's (The guy who made Panda)
real name! Greatest quote of movie: Nobody want your CLUCKHEAD
½ April 28, 2016
An eye opening portrayal of life in the hood.
April 7, 2016
I think its amazing that this movie hold up really good. I love the story communicated from Caine's perspective with his inner thoughts. And big up to the two young brothers Hughes - Impressive!!!
½ April 2, 2016
Menace ll Society is the story of young man who grew up in the hood of Watts, California known for its infamous riots, young actor Tyrin Turner plays this young man known as Kaydee "Caine" Lawson a kid who saw his father Samuel L Jackson kill a man and eventually have the dope game take him and his mother who dies of a overdose, and is sent without guidance accept from a local Glenn Plummer as "Pernell" but is eventually locked and to repay him Caine takes care of Jada Pinkett as "Ronnie" Pernells girlfriend and son but as this movie goes on bad things happen leading up to the climax, may I add that all the performances are great including Caine's bestfriend O-Dog played by Larenz Tate a kid who simply doesn't give a fuck and A-Wax played by rapper MC Eiht a man who's been gang banging for a long time that he wants to see other peoples work but he's down for whatever but there other people who try to lead Caine down the right path his teacher and his son/friend of Caine Sharif played by Vonte Sweet and other friend who wants to play football in Kansas and wants Caine but Caine chooses to sell drugs, help shot the men who killed his cousin, accidentally possibly get someone pregnant, and get caught jacking a car but in the beginning it shows the scene of Caine and O-Dog going into the store grabbing some forties but our soon followed into a terrible crime as on their way out the owner says "I feel bad for your mother" a enraged O-Dog kills both Asian owners and takes the tape but haunts them as a enraged Chauncey after being beaten by Caine gives the tape to the police and the story moves on with you not seeing Caine as a good guy or bad guy but you sympathize with him, with great directing and writing and a solid end I see forth you see this movie.
March 31, 2016
Boyz N the Hood was at the time an eye opening look at urban life out on the west coast. After NWA's years of letting us know about street knowledge we began to see the rugged urban lifestyle in Compton in other ways. However people don't realize that Compton isn't the only place with a notorious history, Watts does as well. Menance 2 Society is a no holds barred look at what some might call the gangsta lifestyle out in Watts, CA that was the site of the famous Watts Riots of 1965. Tyrin Turner Larenz Tate and the rest of the cast tell one hell of a tragic story.
Caine Lawson is a young man from Watts who just graduated high school. Caine is also a drug dealer and hangs out with a crew includes his trigger happ best friend O-Dog, A-Wax, and his cousin Harold. Within a span of a few days we witness and urban nightmare as Caine goes through many trials and tribulations and even gets a few opportunities to leave his criminal life behind but in the end there aren't always happy endings in the gangsta life.
Menace 2 society is explosive and slightly more raw than Boyz N the Hood. This is definitely a film that has a slight historical focus from all of the watts riots and just how watts is a turbulent neighborhood like Compton. Overall incredible directing from the Hughes brothers. The writing is phenomenal. A truly well written urban tale.
larenz tate is veeery good here. he does well playing the kind of individual that caine deep down doesn't want to be but gets unfortunately influenced by to some degree. Tyrin turner was also really solid in his role of caine. caine is a young soul that gets corrupted by all the bad in his life after being given so many chances to get out. It takes so much for him to realize he wants to live. jada pinkett smith was really good here. she was like the one person who almost got through to caine
the lighting is really underated here and projects to the audience that caine is experiencing a living hell almost. The interrogation scene is without a shadow of doubt the best and most well directed scene in the film. bill duke did a fantastic job in his limited screentime and delivered that "you know you done fucked up" line enough times that he set the tone with that. well produced ending kinda surprised me.
Menance 2 society is a powerful, and tremendous film.
February 8, 2016
Menace II Society shows growing up in an impoverished urban area plagued by violence by detailing numerous different perspectives; compassion, aggression, resistance, compliance, brute force, contentment, and more. Various scenes in the film, which is largely a string of vignette-style events strung together rather than a fully formed plot, focus on characters discussing their motivations to either combat or work around the violence in their area, with some choosing to try and fight it by contributing to it, and others simply trying to function in a community that is more like a warzone.

The Hughes Brothers, Albert and Allen, who directed and co-wrote the film with Tyger Williams, craft their film around two young black teens growing up in South Central Los Angeles. One is Kaydee "Caine" Lawson (Tyrin Turner), who's father was a drug dealer killed when he was only ten, while his mother was a heroin addict who died shortly after. He went on to live with his grandparents, though their strict, moralist attitudes rooted in religion didn't stop Caine from becoming a petty drug dealer like his father. The other young man is Kevin "O-Dog" Anderson, who shows his best friend Caine what he can really do when the two go to a Korean-owned cornerstore to buy malt liquor and the owners watch them suspiciously and nervously walk around the store. After the cashier makes a derogatory comment, O-Dog loses his cool and winds up shooting both the cashier and his wife before robbing the cash register and taking the surveillance tape. Just another day in South Central, it seems.

The film winds up showing the day-to-day life of Caine and O-Dog, which involves Caine nearly dying after being shot in a carjacking, as well as petty crime involving cracking cars for insurance money. We also get a glimpse in the life of Ronnie (Jada Pinkett), a single-mother with a young son she is desperately trying to shelter from the bleak environment and unrelenting violence that engulfs the neighborhood. Her character's introduction begins the Hughes brothers' descent into examining different perspectives of the neighborhood.

Consider the scene where Caine is playing with Ronnie's young son, who is clearly growing up fast for a five-year-old, as he loves to be able to hold Caine's pistol, drink liquor, and hang out with the crowd of older boys. Ronnie is disgusted by Caine's compliance with allowing her son to hold a pistol and hang with his friends as they sip some of their ostensibly endless supply of malt liquor and smoke marijuana. Caine claims that this is for the young boy's good, as this is a rough and rugged neighborhood that laughs at kids who are kept from witnessing the violence in such a miserable landscape. The Hughes brothers allow you, as a member of the audience, to judge for yourself on both perspectives and hear each of their characters out; it is because of this even-handed approach that we see that Caine's point, while holding weight, also shows the cyclical pattern of young black men getting incarcerated or killed at a young age due to violent crime or the solicitation of drugs, and we understand Ronnie's protectiveness as a parent, but wonder if that approach is also just buying time for another funeral.

Unlike O-Dog, who largely acts on impulse and what is good in the momentary, Caine has stable guardians to fall back on when he's in trouble. The problem is, the social pressures that fall on Caine throughout the entire film are louder, stronger, and frankly, more attractive than going to church every Sunday and praying to a "white Jesus," as one character claims. Caine, O-Dog, and their other friend Sharif (Vonte Sweet) frequently remark about how the church plays a big role in their community, but the allure of fast cash, luxury, and the pursuit of something bigger than themselves at their current place through dirty business all take prominence in their mind instead of trying to build some sort of fundamental moral compass.

The Hughes Brothers take a very liberal approach to Menace II Society in terms of crafting its characters. Unlike John Singleton's directorial debut Boyz N The Hood, a film that illustrates how and why you should care about its characters and why they are all smart men stuck in a hopeless situation, Menace II Society never gives you a reason to like Caine and O-Dog. By the conventionality of Hollywood cinema, we, the audience, should detest Caine and O-Dog for their criminal ways and their unconscionable resort to violence and immediate gratification whenever they get the chance. The Hughes brothers likely feel the same way, but they challenge us to find reasons for us to care about them throughout the course of the film, and see if we can find even some sympathy for their situations.

For much of the film, I didn't feel too sympathetic, until the third act, which takes a strikingly raw turn. Granted much of the film is captured with a gritty sense of realism, one doesn't really see the ugliness unfold until the third act, when karmic revenge circumvents and finds its lead characters unprepared to lie in the bed they've made for themselves. Menace II Society's only lacking feature is the Hughes brothers' directorial choices; the camera never seems to stay still, and either finds itself oscillating around the main characters in a 360 degree fashion or loosely tracks its location in a way that sort of oddly details spatial relations between characters and their surroundings when there's really no need to do so.

With all that being said, Menace II Society winds up using its narrative and directorial grittiness in a manner that's germane to its illustration of various character perspectives in how to deal with growing up in a tumultuous neighborhood. The end result bears all the pain, immediate gratification, and whirlwind of emotions you'd expect and winds up being one of the strongest dramas I've yet to see that details the hood in a painfully realistic light. Finally, it works to emphasize that while your drug-dealing and violent crime is indeed a menace to society, it's also makes, perhaps equally significant, a menace to yourself.

Starring: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett, and Vonte Sweet. Directed by: The Hughes Brothers.
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