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 "Went into the store just to get a beer. Came out an accessory to murder and armed robbery. It's funny like that in the hood sometimes. You never knew what was gonna happen, or when. After that I knew it was gonna be a long summer."

Menace II Society is a 1993 urban drama directed by the Hughes Brothers (in their debut). Along with Boyz N the Hood, it is one of the defining films of the early '90s and helped popularize the urban crime drama.

The story centers around a street life thug named Caine and his friend O-Dog living in the streets of Crenshaw. Caine is a thug with a heart, and the opportunity to succeed, if the streets will let him. With a father that dealt heroin and a mother who was addicted to it, he had no chance as a child, and went to live with his grandparents. After graduating high school, a feat that none of his friends pulled off, he had choices to make, and although his heart was in the right place, he was stuck in the wrong time. Watch as he struggles with car jackings, murdered friends, taking care of a single mother and her son, and a question that burns in the back of his mind, asked by his grandfather. 'Do you want to live or die?' is the simple choice his grandfather put out to him...but the answer doesn't come until it's too late. A few critics consider this a cynical antithesis to Boyz N the Hood.

Tropes used in Menace II Society include:

  • Anyone Can Die
  • Arc Words: "Do you care whether you live or die?"
  • Asian Store Owner: The opening scene features Caine and O-Dog stopping by a convenience store to get some beer. The Asian store owner and his wife treat them with such suspicion and rudeness that O-Dog snaps and murders them both.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Happens in this scene during a domino game in which Stacy asks about what happened between Caine and Ronnie:

Stacy: Let me guess: You was up in there knocking it out, huh?

Caine: Stay out of my business, Stace.

Stacy: How?
—In the Bowdlerised TV version it's "Playing House."
  • Downer Ending
  • Dying Dream: At the end of the film, Caine is thinking about his life as he lies there dying, and it's at this point that we realize (if you consider this interpretation of the film) that the ENTIRE film we've just seen has been Caine's life passing before his eyes, as he lies dying.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: "What the hell did you say about my mama?!"
  • Famous Last Words: "My grandpa asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah, I do. And now it's too late."
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: O-Dog, who could accurately be described as a black, slightly more trigger-happy version of Tommy DeVito. After killing the said Asian Store Owner couple mentioned above, he steals the surveillance tape and proudly plays it for his friends on numerous occasions, much to Caine's chagrin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Caine does at least manage to save Anthony during the drive by shooting.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: A-Wax is played by rapper MC Eiht, and the detective who questions Caine is played by Bill Duke.
    • Also, Caine's grandfather is Putney Swope.
    • Rapper Too $hort plays "Lew Loc."
    • Little-known 90's rapper Yo-Yo played the blonde at the party at the end.
    • Fans of the Friday trilogy will recognize Pinky as Chauncey.
  • Hollywood California: Specifically, Watts.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Obvious.
  • Lunatic Loophole: Almost every main character, both sympathetic and not, dies by the end...except for O-Dog.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Sharif, though he's not depicted badly - he's just disregarded by his troubled criminal friends. Although there's a lot of cynicism that can be picked up from the way he is written, especially how other characters treat him (even his dad!).
  • The Nineties
  • One-Scene Wonder: Samuel L. Jackson plays Caine's dad in a flashback. He's quite a bit more Badass here than in Jurassic Park, which was released the same year.
  • Scary Black Man: The quietly terrifying detective played by Bill Duke.
  • The Seventies: Only taking place in Caine's flashback in the beginning of the movie.
  • Sociopathic Hero: O-Dog, though it's pretty hard to define him as "heroic".
  • What Could Have Been: The role of O-Dog was originally going to be played by Tupac Shakur, which Tupac wanted to play the role with instead of the role of Sharif, and Spice-1 as the role of Caine, but was both given to Larenz Tate and Tyrin Turner, instead. This lead Tupac to assault one of the Hughes Brothers, going so far to even admitting it on Yo! MTV Raps, leading him to get arrested.
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