Over the last decade, the film industry has taken major steps forward on the diversity and inclusion fronts. However, successful producers and studio heads have traditionally been white men. The same can be said for directors and leading actors. The African-American voice was largely sidelined or reduced in mainstream US cinema, but things began to change in the 1990s with the likes of Boys n the Hood, Friday, Jungle Fever, Mo Better Blues and Menace II Society.
Growing up with a father who’s a drug dealer and a mother who’s a drug addict meant ‘Caine’ (Tyrin Turner) never really stood a chance. Indeed, it didn’t last long and his grandparents took over and tried to raise him in the right way. Despite their best efforts, a life of crime was always lurking in the background. Pushed along by his friend ‘O-Dog’ (Larenz Tate). While possible redemption exists in the form of Ronnie (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her young son, inevitability’s grip is strong.
Menace II Society remains a powerful indictment of a country which was failing young black men in in the 1990s. Albert and Allen Hughes’ (The Hughes Brothers) film is a relentless portrait of the pressures and strains of life on the mean streets of Watts, Las Vegas. Channelling the energy and vibrancy of their work within the music industry, Menace II Society is a searing crime drama which combines authenticity and style to create an unforgettable experience.
• 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
• 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
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Craig D. Lindsey
Menace II Society is released on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection on 6 December.