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Tyrin Turner, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vonte Sweet, Larenz Tate, Ryan Williams ... see more see more... , Samuel L. Jackson , Charles S. Dutton , Glenn Plummer , Bill Duke , Julian Roy Doster , Toshi Toda , Anthony Johnson , Brandon Hammond , Reginald Ballard , Khandi Alexander , Eugene Lee , Nancy Cheryl Davis , Marilyn Coleman , Arnold Johnson , Clifton Powell , Christopher M. Brown , Robert Gonzales , Mike Kelly , Rolando Molina , Clifton Collins Jr. , Tony Valentino , Yo-Yo , James Pickens Jr. , Chad Dowdell , Saafir

This debut offering from twin brothers Albert and Allen Hughes was one of the most critically-acclaimed urban crime films to appear in the wake of John Singleton's influential Boyz N the Hood. Set in ... read more read more...the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, the film is narrated by 18-year-old Caine (Tyrin Turner), a drug dealer and car thief who lives with his religious grandparents. After graduating from high school, Caine shows no ambition beyond hanging out with his friends, so his grandparents kick him out. Among his other troubles are his best friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate), a vicious thug hunted by the police, and the friends and family of the girl Caine got pregnant and then turned his back on. Perhaps the lone positive influence in his sphere is Ronnie (Jada Pinkett), a single parent struggling to raise her young son without the boy falling prey to the 'hood mentality. When their friendship becomes a love affair, Ronnie tries desperately to convince Caine to move with her to Atlanta; soon afterward, he is shot and nearly dies. After recovering, he accepts Ronnie's offer, but tragedy strikes as they pack their van in preparation to leave. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

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93% liked it

61,715 ratings


85% liked it

33 critics

DVD Release Date: July 3, 2001

Stats: 3,243 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (3,243)

  • September 7, 2012
    Back in my days of school I heard of this film but knew nothing of it. It was commonly known as a 90's video nasty and was the talk of the town alongside other similar gangster films. The difference with these films over other horror video nasties was this genre was realistic and... read more possibly influential to us kids, or so the grown ups said.

    The film itself isn't exactly anything amazing really, just days in the life of some young street hoods as they commit crimes and generally arse about. What makes it so strong is the fact its so well made with amazingly good direction and gritty visuals you'd think an experienced directed was behind it.

    So the fact this is a directional debut from the Hughes brothers is really quite impressive, the fact they managed to gather a damn good cast is also impressive. From Sam Jackson and Larenz Tate to Charles Dutton and Bill Duke, add to that many familiar character actors such as Clifton Collins in a minor role.

    Of course the reason behind the films infamous rap is the brutal graphic violence and the fact the word 'fudge' is used about a billion times. I thought 'Robocop' was hard ass, this takes the biscuit! but what makes this so harsh is the fact its based on reality and probably many truths and stories. Whether or not it serves to inform youngsters about the wrong roads in life I don't know, I'm sure it will and does still shock but one could also say it may influence or possibly give certain youngsters bad ideas.

    This is a huge debate and solely depends on the individual naturally, some will enjoy for the wrong reasons other won't, but the Hughes brothers deserve credit for exposing the cold facts that I'm sure many are sheltered from. To be honest I can see what the brothers are doing here but at the same time I can't help but feel they are also putting young blacks in a very bad light and not helping how other people look at them. One also can't help but feel the heavy use of racial language and much black v white propaganda also fuels the fire somewhat, but I'm looking at this from a British perspective.

    Dated now of course but still able to shock with its explosive sequences. Much like the Wild West this film shows how cheap life can be (or still is) within certain areas of the US, but many countries have similar issues.

    Scarily realistic performances from the cast (kinda makes you wonder if they have their own experiences), powerful moments of madness and all made very well without glorifying the story by making the lead character a hero. A story of self destruction that could easily of been avoided exposing the pity and futileness of these youngsters lives. Oh and Sam Jackson is much more terrifying and badass in this than 'Pulp Fiction', even for a five minute cameo!.
  • August 4, 2012
    This is the truth. This is what's real.

    Great strong movie! Menace To Society is as hard hitting powerful as any film about the Hood is ever going to be. The opening scene was so well done I was blown away and loved it so much I would have been satisfied if that was the film ev... read moreen before the first 4 minutes were up and from there you are taken into this roller coater of horrific violence and Hood life. The great thing about the movie is that it shows the truth about how hard it is for some black kids growing up in a world filled with racism and crime.It also shows that some people,like "O-dog" in the movie has forgotten all about the ethics and rules in life.

    This urban nightmare chronicles several days in the life of Caine Lawson, following his high-school graduation, as he attempts to escape his violent existence in the projects of Watts, CA.
  • July 23, 2011
    "yea, ima git a double burger... and some fries.."
    "ay, ay, nigga what da fuck i say? wit cheese, mutha fucka, wit cheese!"
  • January 25, 2010
    just short of boyz in the hood as an urban drama with real chops, the film is a bit more reliant on entertaiment than reality than boyz in the hood is. overall however, the film also boasts great performances from nobody's and sells its message better than almost any film of thi... read mores genre. worthwhile for any film fan but excellent for fans of the genre.
  • January 6, 2010
    Grocery Store Man: I feel sorry for your mother.
    O-Dog: What'd you say about my mama?

    A ghetto drama about a young hustler who was equipped to have a better life if he was raised in a different environment. Instead, with the friends and role models available to him, the life... read more of crime pays its tolls on him. The darker side of a coin that would have Boyz in the Hood on the other side. Some energetic performances and authentic dialog mixed with the very well handled visual style by the Hughes Brothers make this a very watchable film about unfortunate characters.

    Tyrin Turner stars as Caine, the protagonist of the film. He is not much of a hero, though likable in a way. He spends his days as a young drug dealer, mostly going around the hood with his best friend O-Dog, played really well by Larenz Tate, who tends to lose his temper at nearly any situation. While not completely plot less, the film more or less lets us spend a few months with Caine, as he participates in some stupid crimes, learns a bit from the various mentors in his life, and essentially tries to come to terms with what he thinks it is to be a man.

    Despite how vulgar and very heavy on the use of two particular words the film was, the way the characters living in Watts speak always rings true. Nothing in the way the characters act ever feels false. Its certainly a good way for the film to keep its tone together, as well as providing for bother very real and sometimes very humorous exchanges. This is especially the case for the dynamic between other characters and Sharif, the one character opting away from crime life, being educated, despite hanging with the rest of these people.

    Sharif: What's up, black man?
    Caine: Coolin'. Man, why you got that goddamn hood on your head, lookin' like the Grim Reaper?
    Sharif: It's cold out here, my brother. You know us black folks not used to this cold air. We a tropical people, you understand? Let them Europeans deal with this madness.
    Caine: Then why your tropical ass sittin' on the goddamn cooler?
    Sharif: To keep you fools from drinking this poison. That's why.
    Caine: Man, you better get your Shelenkem-Shilom ass up off this box and pass me a motherfuckin' brew.

    Most impressive in this film was the direction by the Hughes Brothers. Twins who had come off of music videos at the time, they were only 21 when they finished making this film, and their work here is very impressive. The use of color schemes, camera movement, editing, and other visual tricks to keep up a certain momentum and hold together this film was interesting and intriguing throughout.

    Its wandering story and overall depressing factors certainly don't make it a film I need to revisit anytime soon, but its made and acted very well, which certainly warrants it a good rating.

    ...Oh, and watch out for Sam Jackson's brief appearance with his Afro.

    [Caine Lawson reflecting after being shot]
    Caine: After stomping on Ilena's cousin like that, I knew I was gonna have to deal with that fool someday. Damn! I never thought he'd come back like this, blasting. Like I said, it was funny like that in the hood sometimes. I mean you never knew what was gonna happen or when. I've done too much to turn back, and I've done too much to go on. I guess in the end it all catches up with you. My grandpa asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah, I do. Now it's too late.
  • September 24, 2009
    Better than Boyz in da hood, this is gritty and real. There is not one hint of Hollywood or Disney, it?s a long hard look at the true nature of the Hood.
  • February 6, 2009
    Tyrin Turner stars as Caine, son of a drug dealer and junkie, raised by his grandparents in the projects and typical product of the 'hood. The Hughes brothers' film of life on the LA streets is one of the many released after the burgeoning mainstream popularity of hip hop in the ... read moreearly 1990s. It is a film with a message, namely that the same cycle of crime and violence is repeated through the mistakes of each generation and a youth without hope inevitably turns to crime as an "easy" way to escape poverty. The film is inevitably a little dated and there is a certain level of glamorization, the love scene in particular coming across as a chart R'n B video. The main flaw is in the fact that the characters are so self centred and obnoxious that it's difficult to care about them, but I guess that's also part of the message; take away a man's respect for himself and others and you take away his reason to live. It certainly has some good moments and it's well intentioned but the dialogue is a stream of cliched ghetto speak and the ending very contrived. Well worth a look, but Dead Presidents' more mature and involved approach makes it far superior film.
  • January 29, 2008
    I was really into these type of films in the 90's when I was in my early teens, it really does seem quite dated now.

    An enjoyable nostalgic watch, but nowhere near as good as I remembered it.
  • August 26, 2007
    Brace yourself when U watch this!
  • July 14, 2007
    A very good if extremely violent crime film. Similar to Boyz N the hood it charts the life of a young man in the LA hood. Great performances and very dramatic.

Critic Reviews

Jonathan Rosenbaum
March 17, 2008
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Don't let the silly styling of the title put you off; this is a powerful, convincing, and terrifying look at teenage crime in contemporary Watts. Full Review

Owen Gleiberman
March 17, 2008
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Bleak, brilliant, and unsparing: a full-scale vision of the madness that is tearing up the black inner city. Full Review

Leonard Klady
March 17, 2008
Leonard Klady, Variety

Fierce, violent and searing in its observation, the film makes previous excursions seem like a stroll through the park. Full Review

Geoff Andrew
February 9, 2006
Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Regrettably, the Hughes brothers' first feature is a compendium of clichés. Full Review

Stephen Holden
May 20, 2003
Stephen Holden, New York Times

If Menace II Society is terrific on ambiance, it is considerably less successful in revealing character. Full Review

Peter Travers
May 12, 2001
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Nothing the Hughes brothers have done in their videos for Tone Loc, Tupac Shakur and others prepares you for the controlled intensity and maturity they bring to their stunning feature debut.

Roger Ebert
January 1, 2000
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Anyone who views this film thoughtfully must ask why our society makes guns easier to obtain and use than does any other country in the civilized world. And that is only the most obvious of the many q... Full Review

Desson Thomson
January 1, 2000
Desson Thomson, Washington Post

It's maddening and enlivening. It's brilliant and tacky. It's funny and horrifying. It will gratify the worst elements in the crowd; it will engage the very best. Full Review

James Berardinelli
January 1, 2000
James Berardinelli, ReelViews

It won't be a fun time -- at least not in the conventional sense -- but you'll sit through a ninety-seven minute odyssey that won't be quickly forgotten. Full Review

March 17, 2008

The Hughes brothers' debut is an exhilarating urban nightmare. Full Review

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    • Caine Lawson: Dog, you strapped?
    • O-Dog: You know it!
    • Caine Lawson: Give me your gun.
    • O-Dog: What for?
    • Caine Lawson: Give me the motherfucking gun.
    • Caine Lawson: My father sold dope and my mother was a heroin addict. Moms and Pops were real popular in the neighborhood. They would always be giving parties for friends of theirs who just got out of jail or was on their way to jail. They only got married 'cause I was born. My pop sometimes worked as an electrician or a cab driver or a plumber, but his main job was selling drugs. Sometimes Mom would use 'em all up before he could even sell 'em. Then he'd have to beat her up. Growing up with parents like that, I heard a lot and I saw a lot. I caught on to the criminal life real quick. Instead of keeping me out of trouble, they turned me on to it.
    • Caine Lawson: My grandpa asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah, I do... and now it's too late.
    • Grocery Store Man: i feel sorry for your mother
    • O-Dog: what you say about my moma

Menace II Society : Watch Free on TV

Menace II Society Trivia

  • Who played O-Dog in the movie Menace II Society?  Answer »
  • In what movie did the line "Pay me in bud..." come from?  Answer »
  • "Which actor played O'Dog in Menace II Society?"  Answer »
  • In Menace II Society, who said "You're acting real paraoid right about now" ?  Answer »

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