Menace II Society (1993)

menace ii society poster 1993 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking movie with solid acting

Lots of clichés in the script

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Menace II Society

Studio:  New Line Cinema

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  May 26, 1993

MPAA Rating:  R


Wait…I thought we were in a comedy?!?!

Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) is a young man trapped in a world of crime and drugs.  On the verge of graduating high school, Caine deals drugs to survive and now runs the risk of jail by being present in a murder-robbery by his friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate).  Caine watches out for his imprisoned friend’s girlfriend Ronnie (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her son and learns that they could offer him the freedom that he always wanted.

Directed by the Hughes Brothers, Menace II Society was a crime-drama that had a lot attention upon its release.  The movie garnered positive reviews and gained immediate cult status with its edgy nature.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1105).


I remember when my parents would shoot up then shoot up people…

The film already had controversy surrounding it when it was released.  The original cast included rappers MC Ren, Spice 1, and Tupac Shakur, but all of them were fired due to problems with the directors (which later led to an altercation and Tupac being found guilty of assault and battery).  Despite the initial casting problems, the film came out a big success by barely escaping the dreaded NC-17 rating and putting the Hughes Brothers on the map as a pair of up and coming directors.


I’m sure we’re headed to a happy ending

I remember not liking Menace II Society when it was released, but I have softened to it a bit.  When Menace II Society was released, it was a relatively new genre.  The “hood” crime drama had not been explored very long, and the movie was somewhat fresh.  Despite this, the movie does feel rather cliché ridden.  You pretty much know how Caine and his friends are going to turn out…this is kind of the intended dramatic tragedy of the film, but it doesn’t necessarily make for good storytelling.

The movie casts a young hip cast.  Tyrin Turner does hold the movie but is overshadowed by the much more dynamic Larenz Tate as O-Dog.  Jada Pinkett Smith has an early role as Caine’s girlfriend Ronnie and Samuel L. Jackson has a small (but important) part as Caine’s murderous father Tat Lawson.


I’m just teaching him how to shoot thugs!

Visually, the Hughes Brothers provide a very visual movie.  The look and style is very gritty and compared to something like Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood, the movie looks even darker.  It feels more dangerous and that works to its advantage.

The Hughes Brothers benefited from directors like Spike Lee who blazed the trail for African-American directors like the Hughes Brothers and John Singleton.  Though Menace II Society isn’t my favorite film, I do admire it but find it hasn’t necessarily aged well.  It is still worth seeing Menace II Society to see what was considered edgy, fresh, and new in the early ’90s.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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