Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – Half Past Dead 2

Year of Release: 2007

Production Companies: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

For my review of the first film, click here.

I often wonder how sequels get green-lighted, even though there is little demand for them or how something can get warranted. I have touched on this in my reviews of The Man With The Iron Fists 2 and also How High 2. Let’s not forget on my review of I Got The Hook Up 2, especially when wondering how long Master P had wanted to get that off the ground. The list goes on, especially when seeing that some movies didn’t do so well enough in theaters, unless it sold a good amount of units in home media. I mean seriously, there are a lot of sequels to Bring It On, as well as a few sequels to Death Race, which I may cover on my movie blog. But in this case, I really wonder if there was a demand for a sequel to Half Past Dead.

I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. Let me tell you how I first discovered that there was a sequel to it. I remember going to Walmart and noticing on one of the DVD racks that there was a copy of Half Past Dead 2. When I saw it, I was like “Huh?” This was in the late-2000s, by the way. I think it was 2008 when this happened. Then I saw who was on the cover. It was none other than Bill Goldberg and also Kurupt. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to think. Now I didn’t watch the first movie until early 2017, when I went through a Steven Seagal kick. I will note that I was familiar with it, as well as knew that Kurupt was also in it. But when I saw Bill Goldberg on it, I didn’t know what to say.

Some of you may have probably figured out by now that I am a fan of professional wrestling. I have made some references here and there in past reviews and stuff. However, I am also aware that Bill Goldberg had starred in some films like Santa’s Slay and stuff. I heard that it was bad, but being that I actually enjoy watching “bad” movies sometimes, I think I might give it a go sometime. So I wasn’t sure what to say. Then when I saw Kurupt on the cover, it made me see that he was possibly one of the only returning actors from the previous film to appear (Let me remind you that I really mean “one of” in this case, as I will get to that).

Which brings me the topic at hand. So basically the story is that Twitch (Kurupt’s character) gets transferred from New Alcatraz, the prison from the first film, to another prison somewhere in Missouri. It turns out that his girlfriend Cherise (played by Angell Conwell) lives there, but there is more to it than that. Immediately he becomes acquainted with one of the prison gangs, as well as gets antagonized by another prison gang, led by the main antagonist Cortez. Then he cross paths with Burke (Goldberg’s character), a loner who doesn’t like associating with people, but has love for his daughter Ellie (played by Alona Tal). But then trouble arises when a riot erupts in the prison, leaving Cherise and Ellie trapped when it goes into lockdown. Problems escalate from there.

Which now brings me to how this is linked to the previous film, especially when more often than not, straight-to-video sequels are only “sequels in name only,” although that could be a factor in this film as aside from returning characters, the title doesn’t really relate to the plot. Basically, Twitch gets promoted from a supporting character to one of the leads and the only other character who returned was El Fuego, played by Tony Plana, who was the warden from the first film, and was only featured in two scenes in this film. I also must note that there were some story elements, as well as passing references that somehow needed to be told in order to link the two films together, but even in some ways it felt like there had be rewrites to the script. Not to mention some continuity errors here and there. The same could be said about the lighting used for some action scenes.

Also, I really wonder if Steven Seagal was even approached to even star in this at all. At this point, he was already doing a bunch of straight-to-video movies, but I guess with his large ego, he probably thought he was too good for this. I mean, seriously, you know that there is a problem when your comic relief side character somehow gets promoted to main character in the sequel.

I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the film. This is the real kicker. I didn’t dislike the movie at all. Yes, it does have its issues and all, but I found it to be somewhat of time-waster that you could just watch if you have nothing else going on. I enjoyed the movie okay. I wouldn’t call it good, and it would be wrong if I said that I loved it. It was really more average, maybe even halfway decent at best. I will note that I liked some of the songs on the soundtrack. Kurupt even provided a couple of songs of his in this film, one of which was a Dogg Pound song, even though it was his verse that was heard. It was still entertaining despite all of its issues.

This movie was definitely an example of an unnecessary sequel. I guess that was why it was straight-to-video. I mean, seriously, a couple of years prior, Steven Seagal was in a movie with Treach from Naughty By Nature. Speaking of Treach, I wonder if I should cover Art of War III as well. I may do Love and a Bullet one day. But also in reference to Seagal, I will get to my long overdue write-up of Exit Wounds, but that will be for a marathon that will include Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave. I like to think of those three as a trilogy. But overall, if you were to watch this, don’t expect too much and you might enjoy it. It may be overridden with cliches, but a lot of films are. I mean the first film wasn’t great either, but it was still entertaining.

2.5/5

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – How High 2

Year of Release: 2019

Production Companies: Universal 1440 Entertainment/MTV/Smith-Garr Productions

For my review on the first film, click here.

Like I had noted in my review of The Man with the Iron Fists 2, straight-to-video sequels (or TV, for that matter) are far from a novel concept. What’s funny (as in strange) is that I have seen my share of some, whether they follow a story or are simply rehash of a predecessor, or even just a film with the name slapped on it to draw viewers. I have noted that there are some that I enjoy. There are also some that I didn’t enjoy, like this film that I am about to cover here.

Let me just make one thing clear here. Comedy is definitely a subjective taste, as well as a hard thing to write and produce. Add to the fact that there are different forms of comedy out there. Whether you’re talking about slapstick, dark, romantic, and sometimes even dumb/silly comedy, which doesn’t always mean that it’s unfunny. Really, dumb/stupid comedy can sometimes have its charm because while the comedy may be a bit over the top, some of the time the humor can actually draw some laughs, as well as what could work is chemistry among the leads. Stoner favorites such as the first film, Half-Baked, Friday, and of course, the Cheech & Chong films (particularly Up in Smoke) have their charm because of the chemistry of the leads and good writing.

This film, How High 2, while it had its moments in some areas (I’ll admit that I chuckled a tad at times), it was just downright bad. There, I said it. But how bad was it? Before I get into my review, let me talk about some background info that some of you may need to know.

For starters, one of the main things is that for years, a sequel with Method Man and Redman was considered. In fact, it had been considered since the late-2000s, right around the time Red and Meth were recording Blackout 2. However, Universal didn’t want to fund the movie, according the IMDB tribune. In late 2015, Redman had stated that Danny DeVito signed him and Method Man back onto the film and a script was being written. In early 2017, the script had been rewritten because Red and Meth didn’t like the earlier drafts. They had hoped that the film would start shooting in late 2017 to early 2018. Even around that time, Redman had stated that the script had been rewritten once again, as he had also said that he and Method Man would not return if the script was not funny. Then the script was rewritten yet again in mid-2018 and Universal 1440 teamed with MTV.

At that point, in September 2018, both Method Man and Redman were unaware that Universal went ahead with the production of How High 2 and that they didn’t bother to contact them until the beginning of production. When they got contacted, they declined after production began with Lil’ Yachty and DC Young Fly. So in other words, Universal went ahead and started production on it without their knowledge. Also, it had been said that Meth and Red were supposed to reprise their roles and Yachty was supposed to be Method Man’s character’s younger brother.

So what does this say about the film? Now I’m getting to that, and note, this will contain spoilers.

This film starts off with Roger, played by Lil’ Yachty, working the night shift at a fast food restaurant and then comes across a couple of rich girls, whom he smokes weed with, only to be robbed by them. Then we are introduced to his cousin Calvin, played by DC Young Fly, who I believe was an Uber driver or something of that nature. He was getting high with a co-worker. The two cousins live in Roger’s mother’s basement. Then suddenly, they come across “The Weed Bible,” which not only introduces them to some powerful weed, but also they encounter Baby Powder (Mike Epps) and his sidekick, played by Teresa Topnotch and she is only credited as “Sidekick.” I kid you not, and yes, Mike Epps reprised his role as Baby Powder from the first film (I will get to another appearance, just wait, as well as some sad attempts to link the two films), but this time he wasn’t a pimp who was trying to get his hookers back. No, this time he played a spiritual figure whom only Roger and Calvin see, almost like a ghost or spirit to give them advice. I really did not understand what they did with this character. I really didn’t, especially when his character was just a pimp who slapped people in the face with baby powder (which he also did in this film, and that’s not even the first sad attempt at trying to link the films!). So Roger and Calvin try to sell the weed, only to find that it went missing and then they go around Atlanta to search for it.

Okay, I’m not sure what this movie was trying to be. I have to hand it to the writers for not making this a complete rehash of the first film’s plot, but in a lot of ways, I saw a lot of elements from Half-Baked, Pineapple Express, as well as a reference to one of my all-time favorite films, Back to the Future.

So what exactly was wrong with this film? This film was also full of cliches that you have seen before. For example, an illicit video coming up when trying to expose someone, a typical inspirational sequence by telling the lead that it was all him and not something that got him far, etc. Okay, I will admit that one bit involving the embarrassing video got a chuckle out of me, as well as some sequences with DeRay Davis, but that was about it. But then there’s the typical “marijuana is like LSD” trope that’s been played out for years. Weed is not that powerful. I mean, sure, a joke like that was done in Half-Baked, but it was justified in the plot as the weed that was being used was supposed be “the good shit,” if you know what I mean.

Another thing that was bad was that there was a forced romantic subplot involving Roger and Alicia, who I believe was an old school crush or girlfriend. It was obvious that she and Roger would end up together, but then she finds herself involved in the plot. Okay, I could hand it to the actress playing the girl as she was trying. But then there were bits in the plot with Roger somehow revealing to her that he sort of lied about some stuff. But you know what, it didn’t matter to her. Duh! Plus, I couldn’t buy those two as an item, and why she would even choose him, especially with a guy with that kind of hair.

As for the sad attempts at trying to link the two films, only one other actor from the first film appeared and that was Al Shearer, who played I Need Money (Yes, that was his name). He appeared in this film as I Got Money. I am not even sure if they were supposed to be the same character (Seriously, same actor, but the difference between “need” and “got” could only mean that the guy had improved himself), but don’t even get me started on the forced bit involving his teeth being shown (Yes, that was done in this movie, too). Also, another sad attempt was taking a puff and seeing the ghost of someone. *sigh* WHY?! At least in the first film, the reason for that was because the dead guy’s ashes were mixed with the marijuana seeds and it was what caused the character of Ivory to come back as a ghost. So it made more sense as it was explained in the plot.

Okay, regarding performances, I had already talked about the love interest, but regarding the leads, I had a hard time trying to take Yachty seriously as the straight man of the group. DC Young Fly, on the other hand, well, I am not familiar with his comedy, but it felt like he was trying to be like Chris Tucker or Kevin Hart. He tried too hard. I mean I am not going to crap on these two because I can see that they were trying, but with what they worked with, it just didn’t work for me.

In a lot of ways, Method Man and Redman had dodged a major bullet by not appearing in this movie. I love that movie. I remember seeing it in theaters when it came out. It was definitely a film that holds up now, even if it’s almost 20 years old. This film, on the other hand, when you have it debut on MTV, that really says a lot about it. I found it on Netflix, so I had to see it for myself. I didn’t even go in with high (no pun intended) expectations. Like I had noted, it had a few moments, particularly with DeRay Davis and another bit, but overall, this was just bad. I mean BAD.

Then again, I still wonder about I Got the Hook-Up 2, and yes, that movie does exist. I will cover that one when I see it, even though I need to cover some of the other No Limit films (Including the first I Got the Hook-Up, which I haven’t seen in so long).

Rating: 1/5

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – I Tried

Year of Release: 2007

Production Companies: Interscope Records/Codeblack Entertainment/Sunset Editorial

Sometimes there are moments when you didn’t know the existence of something. I mean I was well aware of some other “rap movies” that I have covered and plan to (Some I have not posted, but will). But it turns out, even some things are out there that you only find out about its existence just out of the blue, like this movie called “I Tried.”

“I Tried” is a movie that touches on what things would have been like had Bone Thugs-N-Harmony not meet Eazy-E (RIP) and what fate would have led them to. This is an actual movie, by the way, with the lead actors playing characters, even though they are referred to by names related to their real life personas and they even use names that are references of their real names. For example, Krayzie Bone’s character is named Ant, as a reference to his real name, Anthony Henderson. Even Layzie’s called Steven and even had his last name, Howse, mentioned. Wish Bone is called CeCe, which I am not sure if that is his nickname in real life, but I know his real first name starts with a C, so it’s possible. His real name is Charles Scruggs, by the way.

But despite all of that, they are all fictionalized and the film has a story to go with it. As noted before, it shows what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t gotten into the rap game.

What’s noticeable about this is the absences of Bizzy Bone and Flesh-N-Bone. Being that this was released in 2007, this was during the time when Bizzy was out of the group and the group was just a trio. This was likely filmed during the time when “Thug Stories” and “Strength & Loyalty” were recorded and/or released, so Bone Thugs was a trio during that time. Flesh was still in jail during that time, but even he wasn’t mentioned. I’m sure plenty of Bone fans would have known what a character was talking if they mention Steven’s brother Stanley, being that Flesh is Layzie’s real life brother. But anyway, back to the main topic.

So basically the film tells the stories of Ant (Krayzie), CeCe (Wish), and Steven (Layzie) and the paths they went through. Steven has become a cop, while Ant and CeCe are struggling with their lives. CeCe has a daughter and wants to make a better living for, even it’s through illegal means. Ant, on the other hand, while he had turned to a life of crime, wants to try to go legit and be a rapper, but he couldn’t get out of the life, if you know what I mean.

For a low budget movie, this isn’t bad. I mean I have seen plenty of these low budget rapper movies and while I know that they aren’t exactly great cinema, they’re passable, but then you have some that are just downright bad. Out of all the performances, Layzie actually impressed me. Being that he was playing a detective with a bad past, he had to deal with issues of people from his past, as well as deal with a crooked cop on the force. He actually showed some emotion in his scenes, so it made me wonder if he had any other roles besides this one.

But what stood out was the performance from Hassan Johnson as one of the drug dealers. I had seen him in other things, but he actually did a good job in his role as a drug dealer who doesn’t play. He was rather intimidating in his role.

Fun facts: I noticed that Darris Love and the late Nispey Hussle in this movie. Darris Love is someone who I will always remember from a show I watched as a child called “The Secret World of Alex Mack.” I know that this movie was from 12 years ago, but I had no idea that he was still acting. As for Nispey, he looked really young, as he had to have been 20 or 21 when this movie was done. It’s a real shame what happened to him, but that’s a topic for another day.

I don’t really have much else to say except that this movie wasn’t terrible, at least depending on the standards of what one considers good. It may seem like a typical crime story, but the story wasn’t bad. Sure, the ending was rather sad, but it basically went with the “what if” scenario that the plot was telling. It was not a bad way to pass an hour and a half. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s passable.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – State Property 2: Blood On The Streets

Year of Release: 2005

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films/Dash Films

I never thought that I would say this, but this film is more watchable than its predecessor. There I said it. However, that still doesn’t mean that this film is without problems.

Okay, I think I am getting a little ahead of myself here. Let me start over.

If you read my review of the first film, you will see that I did not have a lot of nice things to say about that film. But because I had also planned on writing about the sequel, I told myself to suck it up and sit through it.

I had never seen any scenes from this movie prior to watching it, unlike the first film. All I can remember is seeing that the DVD artwork was the same as the cover artwork for Beanie Sigel’s “The B. Coming,” which was released around the same time as this film. I wouldn’t doubt if some of his songs from that album were even in this film.

Anyway, this film sort of picked up where the first film left off, although I will note that a lot of what was shown at the beginning didn’t make any sense because of how the first film ended. Of course, there had to be a way to explain how everything turned out in order to set up the story for this film. Basically after the prologue, it shows Beans in jail for all of what happened and he ends meeting a fellow criminal named El Pollo Loco, played by N.O.R.E., who is a gangster from Miami. The two eventually become business partners, until one screws the other and then all hell breaks loose. Not to mention that Dame gets involved in the mix, Beans’ rival in the first film.

This film is different from its predecessor in a lot of ways. One of the most noticeable differences is how this film is a lot more comical than the first one. The whole movie does not take itself seriously and a lot of scenes come off as humorous in some areas. Even with some of the predictability, the movie was still a little entertaining. But even though it was a little entertaining, that doesn’t mean that the film was good. However, a lot of the editing and camera work kind of helped with the comical nature that this film had.

One thing that I had noticed is that there were A LOT of cameos in this film. One of the parts that stood out to me was a montage of different Roc-A-Fella artists appearing, and they were addressed by their own stage names, as if they were playing themselves. But they were playing characters, that of drug dealers or gangsters who are running their own streets. Cam’ron even appeared twice as two different characters. It was also funny seeing Kanye West (This was earlier in his career, like in the days of “College Dropout” and “Late Registration”) playing a gangster. I have never seen him play a role like that ever. Even the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was signed to Roc-A-Fella before his death, had a funny cameo as a fry cook. Even the Young Gunz (Man, just noting this REALLY DATES this movie; I wonder what happened to them) made appearances, except they actually had bigger roles than the other artists who made cameos.

I was a little surprised to see that I found myself enjoying a LOT more than its predecessor. I don’t think it’s a good film, but it felt more self-aware this time around than the first one did. The first one suffered from cheesy acting and writing, not to mention a lot of gratuitous stuff. This film still had some gratuitous stuff, but at least it had some entertainment value. It’s actually a movie that you can laugh with or at. Whatever works for you.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror

hood-of-horror

Year of Release: 2006

Film Studio: Xenon Pictures/Social Capital Films/Bloodworks/Snoopadelic Films

Another Snoop Dogg horror film review? Huh? I know, it’s kind of odd considering I was unsure if I would even do this, but I managed to find a way to watch it and figured why not. What separates this film from “Bones” is that this was not a wide release as according to IMDB this film had a rather limited release before coming out on DVD. Another that separates this from “Bones” is that “Hood of Horror” is an anthology film that has three different stories told, a la “Tales From The Crypt” and “Creepshow.”

However, what I will also say is that when it comes to horror movies with Bigg Snoop Dogg, I actually prefer “Bones” in this case. Why? I will get to that. But in the meantime, I am going to give a synopsis about each of the stories that were told.

The first story was about this girl named Posie, played Daniella Alonso, who has a problem with three gangbangers and they have a problem with her too for having tagged on their turf. At some point Posie meets a derelict, played by Danny Trejo, who gives her a tattoo on her arm, which also indicates that she was given a power to be able to eliminate people. It’s like that saying, with great power comes responsibility.

The second story was about this racist couple inheriting a home from the father of the husband. In their inheritance, they have to live in the home with four African-American Vietnam vets, whom also served with the late father of the new landlord. The couple, however, don’t respect the vets and use them as slaves and also harass them in the process, which infuriates the group greatly.

The third and final story is about a rapper who gets famous and is then confronted by a mysterious woman who shows him about his rise to fame and what happened to his friend and how some things are more important than fame.

Now I am about to break down about what I thought regarding these stories. The first thing that I will say that is all stories ranked from worst to best in the order they were shown.

The moment the first story started, the thing that irritated me the most was the acting. As great as Daniella Alonso is to look at in this film, her acting was just unbearable, as was the acting from some of the other actors, especially Noel Gugliemi. Regarding Gugliemi, I am aware that he is typecast as a gang member in a lot of movies, and I have read that he has been down that road before, so I can’t complain about him. Alonso, however, hammed it up in the scenes she was in. I haven’t seen her in a lot of other things, so I can’t comment on her acting as a whole but she just did not do well in this film. As for Danny Trejo, well I am used to seeing him play Danny Trejo, even though he came off as menacing in his role. The story also did not make sense in the end and I thought the ending didn’t convey the message that it tried to tell.

The second story was a mixed bag for me. The villains, played by former “Baywatch” babe Brande Roderick and Anson Mount, who I mostly remember seeing in that Britney Spears star vehicle, “Crossroads,” did not really give me much reason to hate them. Yes, they were total jerks in the movie but they didn’t really make me hate them enough to want to see them get theirs. Ernie Hudson, who played one of the vets in this story, actually saved it for me. I can never complain about seeing him on my screen as I have always respected him as an actor and I like some roles of his, like in “The Substitute” and “Ghostbusters.” However, I cannot say anything about the writing. While the story was predictable, I have to hand it to the writers for coming up with something a bit original towards the end of it. It was a lot better than the first story, but at the same time it suffered from predictability and hammy acting.

Now the movie kicked it into a higher gear with the third and final story. I have to say that this one was the most interesting of the bunch as I will admit that I felt a slight chill in my spine when I watched it. Aries Spears of MADtv fame appeared in this story as Quon, the best friend of the rapper Sod, played by Pooch Hall. While Hall was the main character of this story, Spears was the secondary main character of this one. I am mostly used to seeing him do comedic roles. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t funny in this, he was but in a really creepy way. I also didn’t mind the performance from former professional wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page. However, there wasn’t really much story to be told considering how short it was and we didn’t really see how Sod rose to the top of the rap world. At first we see when he was a nobody and then a year later we see him at the top of his game. If it were made into a full-length movie, it would have been better.

Now where did Snoop fit into all of this? Well he was the narrator of the film and played what appeared to be the devil in the story. He would appear in between stories talking about what happened and then would talk about the next story. He basically like he always does, and it is not that different than his performance in “Bones.” I will say that when he had two gorgeous woman by his side, it somehow reminded me of the video to Coolio’s “Too Hot.” If you’ve seen that video, you will know which part I am talking about. Also, he has a few on the soundtrack, one of which was played in the credits. I also must add that there were animated sequences that happened in between. The animation reminded me of “The Boondocks” and “Afro Samurai,” which was among the very few positive qualities about this film.

Now why do I prefer “Bones” to this movie? Here’s why: I actually got a little more scares from that one than I did this and it had a better story. The only story from this movie that I actually would give a pass to is the third one and even there was not a lot of time to develop it. The second story didn’t have enough to keep me into it with the exception of Ernie Hudson. The first story was just bad. When it comes to horror anthology movies, I very much prefer “Tales From The Hood,” which is an underrated movie in my personal opinion. This movie just failed on some levels for me. Despite a few somewhat positive qualities, I think that this movie failed on multiple levels.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review: Hot Boyz

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Year of Release: 2000

Film Studio: Artisan Entertainment/PM Entertainment/No Limit Films

So it has come to this. I decided to do a review on not just one of the worst movies that I have seen that starred rappers, but also one of the worst movies that I have seen in general. I made a mention of this movie in my review of Thicker Than Water in that I have seen worse movies than that film. Make no mistake about this, but despite what I wrote about that film, it’s still more watchable than this worthless piece of shit that I am about to write about right now. In the future I plan to do more of the movies that No Limit had put out, like I Got The Hook-Up, I’m Bout It, Foolish, maybe even that short film, MP Da Last Don. In the meantime, I will talk about Hot Boyz, a film that Master P not only wrote but also directed, which starred his brother, Silkk The Shocker, as the lead character.

Why I chose to write about this movie I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I wanted to talk about it before other rap movies that I want to do. However, I remember catching this on UPN when I was a lot younger and watching a good amount of it. I remember enjoying it back then, but this isn’t like Thicker Than Water when I had that as one of my favorite movies during that time. In some ways I get a little nostalgic over that, even though that still has a lot of problems and I fell out of love with that movie. This movie, on the other hand, I have no nostalgia over it except just watching it on network TV one time. I caught it on BET every now and then, and then one day I bought a 4-pack of DVD’s that included this movie, along with Foolish, Phat Beach and Caught Up. Not that the other three were good movies at all, but with this set being sold at $5, I just went ahead and purchased it. Boy, do I regret that now, and even though movies like Caught Up and Phat Beach are shitty themselves, they are more watchable than this and that isn’t saying a lot (I would give Foolish a slight pass for Eddie Griffin’s stand-up scenes). I no longer have that set as I will also note that having sat through Caught Up, I said “fuck this shit” and sold it. However, being that I wanted to write about Hot Boyz, I had to find some way to watch it because there was no way I was going to pay to watch it and I was not about to wait for Netflix to put it back on there, nor was I going to wait for it to come back to Starz or Showtime On Demand. Lucky for me, I found that it was online on Vimeo. The sad part about this was that I told myself that I have to watch it again in order to remember a lot of stuff.

The first thing I will address is that Silkk The Shocker should never be allowed to act ever. I know he also appeared in that movie called Corrupt with Ice-T before this and I heard that movie is way worse than this, but I can’t imagine how bad it could be compared to this abomination. Also, Master P should never be allowed to write a script or direct a film either.

Without further ado, I am now going to talk about the film. By the way, there will be spoilers in this review, that way you won’t have to watch this.

The film starts off with a car chase with police cars rushing the spot of a deal gone wrong and then suddenly a sports car just starts racing off, with the driver, Kool (Silkk), hoping to evade the authorities. The thing that got me about this scene was not just that it went up to five minutes but also the editing. It seemed that there were different angle shots of where the cars were going as you had one shot of it from the right, then from the front, then from the left, you get the idea. It takes a long time for this sequence to end as you have no idea what is going on until it drives right off a dock and right at the freeze-frame, Kool starts narrating about what he got himself into. So we cut to a sequence at a barbecue, with Kool hanging out at a table with his crew that included the likes of Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, Mystikal, and also AJ Johnson, who basically played the crew’s butt monkey that everyone liked to crack jokes on. Kool starts spitting a rap while hanging out because he is an aspiring rapper. He also has a devoted girlfriend named LaShawna, who is heading off to college and has a mother who obviously disapproves of her daughter’s relationship with Kool. It’s a cliche, but it gets even worse  (I’ll get to that). Because this was supposed to be a neighborhood barbecue, we see a couple of characters interact with one another whom we don’t know at first. One is a cop and the other is a gangster who just happened to be in the neighborhood. Why this scene was in there I don’t know. This is only the beginning of some sequences like this. There could have been a proper introduction to the cop. Although the gangster, Saint (Clifton Powell), does play a role in the story later on, and the cop, however, appears a few other times.

So we get some scenes that show Kool and LaShawna’s love for one another, and then all of a sudden we see another sequence with a couple of guys who weren’t seen in the film before talking about a drug deal with an undercover cop. These two guys seem like they are involved in organized crime. One guy is white, the other is black. But like the previous scene with the gangster and the cop, this is another introduction to a character who will play more of a role and it happens not too long after because it’s a crucial point to the plot. You see, after LaShawna leaves Kool’s place to go home, she stumbles upon the drug deal with the UC getting stabbed. So she goes right up to the dying cop to help him, and then we see the white guy from earlier looking on. It turns out he is a dirty cop, so he made a deal with the drug dealer. The dirty cop looks on in the distance and then suddenly cops pull up. They were called in pretty fast, huh? And what does LaShawna do? She decides to run from the cops, all the way home, in fact. The stupid thing about all of this is that the cops who chased her down were quick to arrest her and charge her with murder one, and then she gets imprisoned so quickly. It also did not help that she didn’t follow procedure when the cops initially told her to put her hands to the wall. I don’t know how the justice system works usually, but it certainly doesn’t move that fast for her to get charged within an arrest and get put in jail within an hour. It’s bad that she ran, but the cops did not bother to question her. Also, the dirty cop starts stalking LaShawna.

Did I mention that Kool is also a black belt in Kenpo? Well, there were a couple of sequences with Kool in his class, with his master played by Jeff Speakman, who has a billed role in this despite appearing in only a handful of sequences. I think that these scenes were to show what Kool had going for him and he used his prowess in some fights later on, but these scenes did not need to be in the movie at all.

Anyway, with LaShawna in jail, Kool undoubtedly wants to get her and decides to work with a cop played by Gary Busey. Busey has Kool go work undercover to help take down Saint, the gangster from before, by having him get into the operation. It gets predictable as it goes on. Kool gets in, and does some work and then a bust goes down. One sequence has Kool go into the club where Saint is and has him use a recorder. I get that they were trying to do a sting, but is this a universe where using a wire doesn’t exist? The funny part, and I mean a sequence that got a chuckle out of me, was when Kool showed Busey the audio footage and all you hear is “Hooty Hoo” from TRU, which was played at the club.

Afterwards, during a visit from Kool, LaShawna tells him that she is pregnant. In this scene, I have to give Silkk a bit of credit for trying to act, as he is trying to project emotion into it.

So with the dirty cop now stalking LaShawna, he finds her at the prison and decides to brutally interrogate her because he happened to look in the distance when she helped out the dying cop from earlier. She knew nothing, of course, but that did not stop him from attacking her, both verbally and physically. She was then hospitalized. When Kool went to go see her, she dies in the hospital bed. Now I did not get this at all. I understand that she was pregnant and she said that she had lost the baby, but the dirty cop basically laid a few punches and kicks in her. She was bruised, yes, but he didn’t beat her badly to the point that it would be fatal. Also, it was supposed to be the day when she got out. How convenient. (End sarcasm)

Then came LaShawna’s funeral. Everyone was there paying their respects. What cracked me up was Snoop’s character standing in the distance as opposed to being where everyone else was. When LaShawna’s mother saw Kool, she immediately slapped him in the face and blamed him for her death and called him trash. Gee, where did I see THAT before? Oh, that’s right, Boyz N The Hood, which is MUCH better film than this. I wonder if Master P lifted that part from that movie. Oh, and the dirty cop decides to pull a drive-by on the funeral. Now this REALLY got me. How in the FUCK did he know it was her funeral and what did he have to gain in killing the poor girl’s loved ones? Oh, that’s right, to show that he was bad news. It then escalates into a car chase, with Kool driving a hearse of all things. The car chase had some funny camera work as there were closeups of the cars swerving and crashing into other cars. Once Kool got to the evil cop, he rear-ended a him a few times and because there was a conveniently-placed gas can in the back of the van that the bad cop drove, it lead to a cliche explosion that Kool somehow survived and for some strange reason, the van flipped right onto its wheels in the standard position, despite being badly damaged. Of course, the evil cop wasn’t so lucky.

You would think that is the end of the movie after that, huh? Oh no, not quite, and it got worse, too, as it felt like an entirely different film right after that. You see, in the story, Kool felt that there was no way of getting justice, so he decided to form a gang and rise in the criminal ranks, and they call themselves the Hot Boyz, which explains the name of the film. So let me get this straight. After a bent cop causes harm to someone and decides to shoot up a funeral, the only motivation Kool now has is to become a criminal? It went from being a crime drama to a wannabe gangster movie. What’s bad about is that this happens an hour into the film and in the final 20-30 minutes of it. We get a montage of their rise to power as Kool and his boys start shooting up the competition with so much ease that I wondered how in the hell did a gang of four just gun down hundreds of guys with little effort. Oh, and Kool managed to afford a mansion in the process. How? I don’t know, probably took it over after taking out a crime boss. Another scene had them hang a guy after they interrogated him, which then led to another interrogation scene with a cop, played by C. Thomas Howell, interviewing a thug played the film’s writer and director, Master P. I suppose P felt he needed to have at least one scene in the film where he was told about a guy he knew was hung. I don’t see what the point of that scene was. Number one, the guy who was hung was no one the audience knew as he had no other scenes beforehand. Second, Master P was never seen again after that despite being on the poster/box artwork.

Next we have another cliche in gangster films with a turncoat character wanting to work for the competition as Pee-Wee, AJ Johnson’s character, turns to Saint to help bring down the Hot Boyz. At this point, Saint was forgotten about and the last time he was seen he was busted by the cops. I wonder how much Clifton Powell made for his contribution to this film. He may not be a name actor, but he is a good actor and I respect him for all of his work. He just seemed like he was slumming right here. Anyway, Kool gets suspicious of Pee-Wee’s behavior and then comes a part where he grills him for double-crossing him, which led to Snoop shooting him. Then finally we have the big climax scene with the cops and Saint’s men coming in to kill Kool and his small gang and a big shootout starts. I must say that it’s funny to see the badly done edits for this climactic sequence. I must add that the song in the background just did not go with the sequence, either (More on this in a bit). Finally it leads to that car chase that was seen at the beginning and Kool did fall into the water after driving off the dock. Surprisingly enough, he survived, was arrested, sentenced to 30 years, but only did five because that good cop from the beginning helped him out. He started evaluate how his life turned out and that after all the shit that he went through, he thought that things were about to be different, how he wanted a life with LaShawna and their child, blah blah blah. You get the drift.

I forgot to mention this before, but there was a funny sequence with Saint being chased by the cops, he evaded them by zip-lining and falling into water. This, too, also had the multiple camera angles and edits, not to mention that if you look closely, the double for Clifton Powell was wearing glasses whereas Powell wasn’t wearing any when the camera closed in on him.

*Sigh* It will be said. I had planned to do a write-up of this film, and despite the fact that I detest this movie, I bit the bullet and decided to watch it so that I can address each and every fucking problem this movie had. The last time I watched this fully was more than four years ago, so it was not fresh in my mind for me to do it. One of the most ridiculous things that I noticed about this movie was its overabundance of the soundtrack. I get that it was a No Limit film and a lot of songs from No Limit Records were used in the film, ranging from Master P to Silkk to Mystikal, you name it, but it just sounded fucking ridiculous to hear some songs played during an action sequence. When there was a tender moment, you would hear stuff from their R&B acts like Mo B. Dick, O’Dell and Porsha. Hell, I thought that it was too much to hear C-Murder’s “Concrete Jungle” more than once. I don’t mind the music, I even have some albums from the No Limit label myself, but hearing the soundtrack was kind of overkill. Not to mention the drastic change in story in 2/3 of the way. Did Master P feel that the movie was too short for it to end with the car chase at the end? Who knows.

On the plus side, I have to hand it to Snoop Dogg for playing it straight in this film. In comparison to Mystikal and C-Murder, both of whom can’t act worth a shit, Snoop basically was just calm and cool throughout the entire film. I sort of laughed how in the final shootout, right when he was shot, he didn’t agonize in pain. He just looked down and saw the bullet wound in his chest like it was nothing. As far as other rappers from the No Limit label go who were in this movie, Mia X had a small role as a receptionist at the police station. That was mainly it.

After reading all of this, it is not hard to see how bad I felt this movie was. It was not “so bad it’s good,” it was not even “funny bad.” It was just plain bad. I may have criticized Thicker Than Water in my review, but in a lot of ways I would not mind revisiting it despite its problems. That was a bad movie, yes, but I don’t hate it, and it is MILES BETTER than this piece of shit. Even Gary Busey didn’t make this movie somewhat watchable. I don’t recommend it, although there are people out there who liked this movie, and that is fine, too. However, this movie can be a good torture technique when you want to punish someone.

As stated before, I plan to write about the other No Limit films in the future. Thanks for reading.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review: Thicker Than Water

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Year of Release: 1999

Film Studio: Palm Pictures/Priority Films/Hoo-Bangin’ Films

So I basically had thought of something to delve into and that is “rap movies.” I don’t mean movies that had the likes of Ice Cube or Tupac Shakur playing characters and them being the only rappers in them. I am talking about those low-budget “rap movies” that went straight to video, or even ones that surprisingly made it to theaters. I might touch on hood flicks in the future, but this right here will be the start of a category I have been wanting to touch on.

If you lived in the late-1990s to the early-2000s, there is a good chance that you may remember that there were low-budget movies that had come out that starred rappers, and I mean a good amount of supporting characters played by rappers. It was a common thing way back when. What better way to start this column with a movie that I remember loving as a teen that starred Mack 10 and Fat Joe as the leads called “Thicker Than Water.” Now that I am older and wiser, does this movie this hold up? Or was I just too blind and naive as the 14-year-old boy that I was who thought it was the best movie ever?

The funny thing regarding how I found out about this movie was when I was in middle school I saw an advertisement for it for pay-per-view. I then remembered it when a relative of mine had the soundtrack and then I came across this movie on Showtime. Oh yes, I remember watching this a lot on Showtime back in the day. However, nostalgia can only cloud one’s judgment for too long, and when one day when I bought it at a store a decade after having seen it, some of those positive memories of having enjoyed something as a youngster have faded away.

The story’s plot is as cliche as it gets. What it dealt with was DJ (Mack 10) and Lonzo (Fat Joe) are rival gang members who decide to put their personal differences aside to get into the drug game. Did I mention that these guys are also budding music producers who are trying to pursue careers in music in hopes to get out of the hood? What’s weird is that these guys are getting deeper in the crime world than just gang-banging in hopes to make it in some legitimate business. Oh, and these guys also have girlfriends that serve nothing more than either as arm candy (Or eye candy to the audience), which also makes me see how sexist, if misogynist, this film is (More on that later). If anything, this movie is nothing more than a glorified rap video, and it was even shot like one.

Let me get into a lot of the ridiculous aspects of this film. We start the movie with Mack 10’s character, DJ, narrating about how life in the hood is messed up and how there may not be ways to get out. Next thing we see is a bunch of friends playing football in the park with music playing in the background. It’s supposed to look like a happy time, until a couple of women get into a scuffle. One of the women, Leyla, is supposedly “DJ’s woman” and going off on some girl because DJ had talked to her on the phone. She beats the woman up, and then she makes a snappy comeback only for Leyla to blast her with a gun right there. Next thing we see is Leyla dropping off DJ at his girlfriend Brandy’s house, and her giving him shit about how she “shot a bitch over him” and now she was dropping him to see another woman. I mean seriously, this was only in the first five minutes of the film, and I already see that a lot of the characters are portrayed in a negative light.

I must add that only the first 15 minutes of this movie take place within that day period, where during that time we also meet Lonzo, Fat Joe’s character, as he is first seen hanging out with his friends on his porch playing some word guessing game for some odd reason, one of whom was played by MC Eiht of Compton’s Most Wanted, and was more than likely in this movie because at the time this movie was made, he was signed with Hoo-Bangin’ Records, Mack 10’s label. Then when Lonzo’s girlfriend Kim called him inside, Lonzo’z boys just decided to rough up DJ because he happened to have been walking down the street where he was not welcome. It was funny to see considering the bad acting from these rappers, and there was plenty of bad acting in this movie, believe me.

After this host of sequences within the first 15-20 minutes of the film, we finally get to the crux of the plot. You see, with DJ and Lonzo aspiring to be music producers, they come across a few problems along the way. Lonzo was producing an R&B girl group, portrayed by real life group named Soultre, whom were signed to Hoo-Bangin’ at the time, and then went to go meet with a record company executive, only to see that the group had already met with him. The executive told Lonzo that he offered the group an exclusive deal to record for his label, which pissed off Lonzo greatly to the point where he pulled out a pistol and threatened him with it. The crazy thing about this was that Kim, Lonzo’s girlfriend, handed him the gun right before left for the meeting. I am sure he needed to be strapped for protection against rival gang members, but did he really need to carry the gun into the record company building? While DJ’s record equipment blew up on him during a session in composing the beats. So both men were fucked in that situation. So what are they going to do? They are going to put aside their personal differences and join forces to find a way to raise money by selling dope on the streets. Enter Gator, played by another rapper named CJ Mac, who is living large with his operations primarily based in New Orleans, La. but also had some influence in California. If anything, this guy was like the Tony Montana-type in this movie, with a mansion and everything.

So there you have it, the story is just them selling dope, and then of course we have some dissension in their operation along with them regaining their previous conflict. Not to mention that we had a stupid surprise twist at the end of the film that made little sense. I will not say what it was, but if you were to watch it, you would find the revelation to be stupid, too.

Another thing that I must add, the poster and DVD cover say that it starred Ice Cube, but that was far from the truth. Ice Cube appeared in the film, yes, but only for two minutes tops. He played DJ’s cousin who was a mechanic and gunrunner by trade. He was never seen again after that. We also had some other cameos by WC, Krayzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone, Bad Azz, B-Real and Big Pun. No disrespect intended for the late Big Pun, but when I see the scene when DJ and Lonzo meet with him at the diner, I wonder how he managed to fit into the booth. He looked like he barely got himself in there, and then of course we see that he has a drug stash hidden inside a refrigerator.

I have to say that this film did not hold up from when I was younger. Not that I thought that this was a movie deserving of awards, but I still liked it then. Nowadays, I would only watch it if I want to get a good laugh because this movie was obviously shot on a low budget. The acting was horrendous, especially from the two leads, and the story was predictable. I also must say that I could only count any positive characters on one hand. One in particular was DJ’s mother, who tried to tell DJ about his life and his father, though that subplot was an afterthought because there were only two or three scenes that mentioned DJ’s father. Another positive female character was Brandy, whose character was that of a college student trying to make something of herself, but even she became an afterthought with the only scene she had any real dialogue was when her and DJ were talking about their future at the beginning of the film. The only other time she was seen was when DJ and her, along with Lonzo and Kim, went to a comedy club. She had very little to do in the film and I am sure that the writers only added her in at the last minute. The aunt seemed like the only other positive character. DJ’s stepfather was only seen in two scenes, and I will say that I thought that the exchange between him and DJ was kind of funny in one of those scenes. All the other characters made it hard for me to root for them, especially the two leads.

This was indeed a bad movie, no doubt, but I have seen worse, MUCH WORSE, and I plan to review them in spite of how I felt about them (*cough*Hot Boyz*cough*). In the meantime, thanks for reading this. Also, I will review the soundtrack to this film. Stay tuned for that.

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