Menace II Society (1993)

R | 97 mins | Drama | 26 May 1993

Producer:

Darin Scott

Cinematographer:

Lisa Rinzler

Production Designer:

Penny Barrett

Production Company:

New Line Cinema
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HISTORY

The film opens with newsreel footage of the 1965 riots in Watts, a low-income neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, CA. The first scene of the story depicts teenaged “Caine” and “O-Dog” committing robbery and murder at a convenience store before flashing back to Caine’s childhood in the 1970s. Actor Tyrin Turner provides voice-over narration, that continues intermittently throughout the film.
       On 27 Jul 1992, Var announced that New Line Cinema had greenlighted a $4 million budget for Menace to Society, set to star rapper-actor Tupac Shakur. The film marked the theatrical motion picture debut of twenty-year-old twins Allen and Albert Hughes, who had previously directed more than thirty music videos, including Shakur’s “Brenda’s Gotta Baby.” In their collaborations, Albert was in charge of visual decisions, while Allen gave direction to the actors.
       According to a 30 May 2013 MTV News interview with Tyrin Turner and Larenz Tate, Shakur had been cast as “Sharif,” a friend of Turner’s character, Caine. Shakur reportedly left the project after the directors denied his request for a larger role. The departure was not amicable, and sometime later, Shakur physically beat Allen Hughes on the set of Spice 1’s music video, “Trigga Gots No Heart.” Following the incident, the 21 Feb 1994 issue of Time reported that Shakur was formally convicted of assault.
       Principal photography took place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles with the new title, Menace II Society. Inhabitants of the Jordan Downs Housing Project were hired as background actors, while filmmakers coordinated security with members of the Grape Street Crips. Despite earlier reports of a higher budget, the 21 May 1993 ... More Less

The film opens with newsreel footage of the 1965 riots in Watts, a low-income neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, CA. The first scene of the story depicts teenaged “Caine” and “O-Dog” committing robbery and murder at a convenience store before flashing back to Caine’s childhood in the 1970s. Actor Tyrin Turner provides voice-over narration, that continues intermittently throughout the film.
       On 27 Jul 1992, Var announced that New Line Cinema had greenlighted a $4 million budget for Menace to Society, set to star rapper-actor Tupac Shakur. The film marked the theatrical motion picture debut of twenty-year-old twins Allen and Albert Hughes, who had previously directed more than thirty music videos, including Shakur’s “Brenda’s Gotta Baby.” In their collaborations, Albert was in charge of visual decisions, while Allen gave direction to the actors.
       According to a 30 May 2013 MTV News interview with Tyrin Turner and Larenz Tate, Shakur had been cast as “Sharif,” a friend of Turner’s character, Caine. Shakur reportedly left the project after the directors denied his request for a larger role. The departure was not amicable, and sometime later, Shakur physically beat Allen Hughes on the set of Spice 1’s music video, “Trigga Gots No Heart.” Following the incident, the 21 Feb 1994 issue of Time reported that Shakur was formally convicted of assault.
       Principal photography took place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles with the new title, Menace II Society. Inhabitants of the Jordan Downs Housing Project were hired as background actors, while filmmakers coordinated security with members of the Grape Street Crips. Despite earlier reports of a higher budget, the 21 May 1993 HR review stated that the film was completed for just $2.5 million.
       During post-production, a 15 Mar 1993 HR article reported that scenes of bloody gun violence had to be re-edited to avoid an NC-17 rating. According to a 4 Jun 1993 HR news story, New Line deliberately chose to avoid the rap soundtracks traditionally used to market other “ethnic urban dramas,” and instead used Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?” to emphasize the film’s strong messages against violence. Several critics, such as HR’s David Hunter, noted initial comparisons to Boyz N the Hood (1992, see entry), but claimed that Menace II Society established a more sympathetic connection to characters “tragically cut down” by their surroundings.
       Following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight competition, Menace II Society opened during the 1993 Memorial Day weekend in 464 theaters, taking in a six-day gross of $4.6 million. Pleased with its critical and box-office success, New Line planned to expand the picture to at least fifty additional theaters over the following two weeks.
       Despite the filmmakers’ negative depiction of crime, items in the 17 Dec 1993 and 13 May 1994 HR reported incidents of violence inspired by the movie, including a young man in Albequerque, NM, who directly imitated the convenience store robbery carried out by Caine and O-Dog.
       Allen and Albert Hughes are credited onscreen as “The Hughes Brothers.” The name of actress Nancy Cheryll Davis is misspelled as "Nancy Cheryl Davis."
       End credits state: "Watts Riot footage courtesy of Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries, Inc. and NBC News Archives,” and, “Special thanks to: Aida ‘Moms’ Hughes; Darryl Porter; Jeff Robinov; the Nation of Islam; Jordan High School; Youth Gang Authorities, Watts Division; Fred Williams; the Communities of Long Beach, South Central; and the men and women of Jordan Downs, Watts.”
       The DVD print viewed by AFI was labeled as the unrated “Director’s Cut,” and contained the brief images of gore that were removed prior to theatrical release. Both versions have a ninety-seven-minute running time. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 May 1993
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1993
p. 1, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1993
p. 11, 32.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 1994.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 May 1993
Calendar, p. 1.
MTV News
30 May 2013.
---
New York Times
26 May 1993
Section C, p. 13.
Time
21 Feb 1994.
---
Variety
27 Jul 1992.
---
Variety
17 May 1993
p. 96.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New Line Cinema Presents
A New Line Production
A Hughes Brothers Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Line prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
2d unit cam op
2d unit 1st asst cam
Loader
Video asst
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Spec photog
Aerial dir of photog
Aerial asst cam
Cam systems by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Ed intern
Ed intern
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Leadman
Asst leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
Prop asst
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost asst
Cost asst
Cost asst
MUSIC
Mus
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus asst
Scoring mixer
Scoring mixer
Keyboards
Gospel organ
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Titles & opt eff by
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist/Hair des
Key makeup artist/Hair des
Addl makeup/Hair
Addl makeup/Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec in charge of post prod
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst to the Hughes brothers
Asst to Mr. Scott
Prod controller
Prod attorney
Contract supv
Scr supv
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
ADR voice casting by
Tech adv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Helicopter pilot
Extras casting
Extras casting
Medic
Craft service
Craft service
Security
Safety officer
Welfare/Studio teacher
Welfare/Safety teacher
Payroll by
Insurance provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
SONGS
“Trigga Gots No Heart,” written by R. L. Green, Jr., S. Adams and M. Olgeton, performed by Spice 1, courtesy of Jive Records
“Packin’ A Gun,” written by A. Banks, S. Jordan, R. Gooden, performed by Ant Banks, courtesy of Jive Records
“Streiht Up Menace,” written by A. Tyler and T. Allen, performed by MC Eiht (of Compton’s Most Wanted), courtesy of Orpheus/Epic Records
+
SONGS
“Trigga Gots No Heart,” written by R. L. Green, Jr., S. Adams and M. Olgeton, performed by Spice 1, courtesy of Jive Records
“Packin’ A Gun,” written by A. Banks, S. Jordan, R. Gooden, performed by Ant Banks, courtesy of Jive Records
“Streiht Up Menace,” written by A. Tyler and T. Allen, performed by MC Eiht (of Compton’s Most Wanted), courtesy of Orpheus/Epic Records
“Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ) Instrumental,” written by R. Kelly, T. Blatcher, M. Jefferson, performed by R. Kelly and Public Announcement, courtesy of Jive Records
“Lick Dem Muthaphuckas,” written by L. DeChalus, D. Murphy and T. Perry, performed by Brand Nubian, courtesy of Elektra Entertainment
“Death Becomes You,” written by P. Phillips, C. Penn, T. Guest, K. Guest, performed by Pete Rock and CL Smooth, courtesy of Elektra Entertainment
“Honey Love,” written R. Kelly, performed by R. Kelly and Public Announcement, courtesy of Jive Records
“Stop Lookin’ At Me,” written by A. Sealy, J. Edwards, Q. Dillon, K. Elam, performed by The Cutthroats, courtesy of Jive Records
“Can’t Fuck Wit’ A Nigga,” written by D. Blake, R. Bacon, performed by DJ Quik, courtesy of Profile Records Inc.
“Kinda Like A Gangsta,” written by Smooth, C. Stokes, courtesy of Jive Records
“All Over A Ho,” written by R. Thomas, G. Hutchison, J. Long, performed by Mz. Kilo, Mz. Kilo appears courtesy of Jive Records
“Dedicated,” written by R. Kelly, performed by R. Kelly and Public Announcement, courtesy Jive Records
“Fly Away,” written by V. Herbert, K. Griffin, performed by Hi-Five, courtesy of Jive Records
“You’ve Been Played,” performed by Smooth, written by Smooth, C. Stokes, courtesy of Jive Records
“Love And Happiness,” written by Al Green and Mabon Hodges, performed by Al Green, courtesy of Hi-Cream Records, under license from CEMA Special Markets
“Only The Strong Survive,” written by T. Shaw, A. Banks, R. Gooden, S. Jordon, M. Hampton, performed by Too $hort, courtesy of Jive Records
“Dopeman (Remix),” written by O’Shea Jackson and Andre Young, performed by N.W.A., courtesy of Priority Records
“Top Of The World,” written by D. Wiggins, E. “Kenya” Baker, F. Busby, performed by Kenya Gruv, Kenya Gruv appears courtesy of Boomcity Records/Mercury Records
“For The Love Of You (Part I),” written by The Isley Brothers and Chris Jasper, performed by The Isley Brothers, courtesy of Sony Music, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Atomic Dog,” written by George Clinton, Jr., Gary M. Shider and David L. Spradley, performed by George Clinton, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., under license from CEMA Special Markets
“Stay Strapped In South Central,” written QD III, performed by Xavier and QD III, courtesy of New Line Tunes
“Computer Love,” written by Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman and Shirley Murdock, performed by Zapp, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Hot Wire Oldie,” written by QD III, performed by Teddy Miller and QD III, courtesy of New Line Tunes
“Got To Give It Up,” written by Marvin Gaye, performed by Marvin Gaye, courtesy of Motown Record Company L.P., by arrangement with Polygram Special Markets
“Only The Strong Survive,” written by Kenneth Gamble, Jerry Butler and Leon Huff, performed by Jerry Butler, courtesy of Polygram Special Markets.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Menace to Society
Release Date:
26 May 1993
Premiere Information:
Cannes Directors' Fortnight premiere: mid-May 1993
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 May 1993
Copyright Claimant:
New Line Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 November 1993
Copyright Number:
PA666870
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Prints
Prints by Film House
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32117
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As a child in South Central Los Angeles, KayDee “Caine” Lawson grows up watching the criminal activity of his drug dealer father, Tat, and his heroin-addicted mother, Karen. When Tat is killed during a drug deal, Caine goes to live with his grandparents in the nearby housing projects. Although the arrangement was intended to be temporary, Karen dies of a drug overdose, forcing Caine to stay. One summer night in 1993, Caine and his hotheaded best friend, “O-Dog,” buy beer from a convenience store, noticing that the Korean owner and his wife are watching them suspiciously. As they leave, the shop owner provokes O-Dog by making a snide remark about the young man’s mother. Furious, O-Dog shoots the owner and his wife, robs the cash register, and confiscates the security tape. After several years of struggling in class, Caine finally completes high school. On graduation night, Caine and his cousin Harold attend a party, where O-Dog proudly shows off the security tape to a group of their friends. Later that night, carjackers kill Harold and shoot Caine in the shoulder. After a week in the hospital, Caine’s religious “Grandpapa,” Thomas, lectures him and O-Dog about their criminal behavior. Ignoring his warnings, Caine, O-Dog, and their friend, “A-Wax,” track down and shoot Harold’s killers. Although it was his first time committing murder, Caine is emotionally unaffected by the incident. Sometime later, he visits Ronnie, the girl friend of his childhood mentor, Pernell, who is serving a life sentence in prison. Caine bonds with Ronnie’s young son, Anthony, and ensures she has enough money. That night, he and O-Dog are caught stealing cars as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Still ... +


As a child in South Central Los Angeles, KayDee “Caine” Lawson grows up watching the criminal activity of his drug dealer father, Tat, and his heroin-addicted mother, Karen. When Tat is killed during a drug deal, Caine goes to live with his grandparents in the nearby housing projects. Although the arrangement was intended to be temporary, Karen dies of a drug overdose, forcing Caine to stay. One summer night in 1993, Caine and his hotheaded best friend, “O-Dog,” buy beer from a convenience store, noticing that the Korean owner and his wife are watching them suspiciously. As they leave, the shop owner provokes O-Dog by making a snide remark about the young man’s mother. Furious, O-Dog shoots the owner and his wife, robs the cash register, and confiscates the security tape. After several years of struggling in class, Caine finally completes high school. On graduation night, Caine and his cousin Harold attend a party, where O-Dog proudly shows off the security tape to a group of their friends. Later that night, carjackers kill Harold and shoot Caine in the shoulder. After a week in the hospital, Caine’s religious “Grandpapa,” Thomas, lectures him and O-Dog about their criminal behavior. Ignoring his warnings, Caine, O-Dog, and their friend, “A-Wax,” track down and shoot Harold’s killers. Although it was his first time committing murder, Caine is emotionally unaffected by the incident. Sometime later, he visits Ronnie, the girl friend of his childhood mentor, Pernell, who is serving a life sentence in prison. Caine bonds with Ronnie’s young son, Anthony, and ensures she has enough money. That night, he and O-Dog are caught stealing cars as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Still underage, O-Dog is released with a warning, but Caine is taken into custody. At the police station, officers match his fingerprints to a bottle found on the floor of the convenience store. However, without the security tape, they do not have enough evidence to convict him. Once he is released, two friends invite him on a trip to Kansas, where they plan to start a new life. Caine refuses, opting to remain close to Ronnie and Anthony. Turning back to the example set by his parents, he begins cooking crack cocaine. Although he enjoys his new status as a hustler, his friends fear he will soon end up dead. One night, two police officers brutally beat him and leave him handcuffed in an alley. When he recovers, Ronnie suggests he move with her to Atlanta, Georgia, where she has found work as a secretary. After much deliberation, he agrees, and the two make love. As they prepare to leave town, Caine receives a phone call from a one-time lover named Ilena, informing him that she is pregnant with his child. Refusing to accept responsibility, Caine hangs up. Later, Ronnie takes him to visit Pernell in prison, and the sight of his mentor behind bars moves him to tears. Hoping Caine can set a better example for Anthony, Pernell encourages him to go to Atlanta. A few days later, Ilena’s cousin confronts Caine on his grandparents’ front lawn, and a fight ensues. As a result, Caine’s grandparents banish him from the house, and Caine moves in with Ronnie. On the day of their departure, Caine and Ronnie pack up their belongings and load them into the car. Suddenly, Ilena’s vengeful cousin and two gunmen drive by and open fire. Caine dives to the ground to protect Anthony, but sustains fatal gunshot wounds. As he lies dying, he reflects on his past mistakes and regrets not thinking about his future until it was too late. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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