MENACE II SOCIETY CRITERION COLLECTION REVIEW

The Hughes brothers might not be to everyone’s taste, nor might they be seen as directors of significance in the history of cinema. In black cinema and in particular 90s ‘Hood cinema’, MENACE II SOCIETY is exemplary. Though BOYZ N THE HOOD is a better film and JUICE is more insightful, What we have (and what Criterion have revealed is a film of considerable skill from a young directing duo and an equally young screenwriter in Tyger Williams. The streets of Watts in Los Angeles are not the place to raise a family. Its the 1990s are racial tensions are simmering. Riots in 1965 and 1992 cast long shadows and a year after the last one, Caine (TYRIN TURNER) is growing up. His father (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) is a drug dealing renegade and kills remorselessly. His mother is an addict and has no influence on his life at all. The only friend he has is O-Dog (LARENZ TATE), who likes drink and guns. Shooting dead a store clerk in the early moments, this leads him into a spiral of violent crime. He goes to live with his grandparents and has a new girlfriend in single mum Ronnie (JADA PINKETT). They might send him right but the call of the street is loud.

Criterion has taken a lot of time and love over this release. The same US version has like for like everything and that is a testament to the marketing strategy of the brand. We get the stellar 4K of that release (the images on the side are directly taken from it!). We get the UHD that looks as good, without any lose of tone or field. The commentaries are the old ones from the films first lazerdisc and they are very good because they are A) Honest and B) compelling to listen too post the brothers now refusing to work together. I also loved the deleted scenes that are old but still make for an interesting take on the directors ideas. But the releases high point is  Craig D. Lindsey magnetic essay on the film. He channels the film via Black culture, the time period, his emotional resonance with the film and an important history of the then New Black Cinema.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

  • New 4K digital restoration of the directors’ cut of the film, supervised by cinematographer Lisa Rinzler and codirector Albert Hughes, with 7.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • In the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
  • Original 2.0 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Two audio commentaries from 1993 featuring directors Albert and Allen Hughes
  • Gangsta Vision, a 2009 featurette on the making of the film
  • New conversation among Albert Hughes, screenwriter Tyger Williams, and film critic Elvis Mitchell
  • New conversation among Allen Hughes, actor and filmmaker Bill Duke, and Mitchell
  • Interview from 1993 with the directors
  • Deleted scenes
  • Film-to-storyboard comparison
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Craig D. Lindsey

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.