Depending who’s asked, Menace II Society is the greatest hood flick ever created. That distinction is subjective in the long run, but what isn’t is the look on your face when realizing the movie turned 20 years old this summer.
Caine and O-Dog represent two iconic characters in ’90s cinema based solely off their individual flaws – Dog’s willingness to prove his G at any moment and Caine’s desire to do the same, but from a much more conflicted vantage point. Like many movies of its ilk at the time, fairly tale endings were just that – fantasy. The highs for Caine were high and the lows were unfathomably low, representative of residents of Watts, California, who lived the lives Larenz Tate, Tyrin Turner and more brought to life under the Hughes Brothers’ vision.*
“Being a black man in America isn’t easy. The hunt is on, and you’re the prey. All I’m saying is… All I’m saying is… Survive! All right?”
It’s funny how relevant Menace still is 20 summers later.
Related — The Menace That Missed [Grantland]
* – Fun fact: Tupac was originally casted to play the role of Sharif. So upset by being pegged to portray a character that “doesn’t exist,” this led to the infamous fight with Allen Hughes which, in turn, led to him serving 15 days in jail for assault.