With a Biopic in the offing, and the re-release of his film Juice on DVD, the resurection of the late Tupac Shakur is nigh…Snoop Dogg has done it. Ice Cube has had a go. Ice-T gave it a whirl. But it does not matter how much street-cred these gangsta boys have – all have failed miserably in their bid to be Rapper-turned-Actor.
With a Biopic in the offing, and the re-release of his film Juice on DVD, the resurection of the late Tupac Shakur is nigh…
Snoop Dogg has done it. Ice Cube has had a go. Ice-T gave it a whirl. But it does not matter how much street-cred these gangsta boys have – all have failed miserably in their bid to be Rapper-turned-Actor. Whilst 50 Cents certainly tops the charts as being the worse of the lot (will he ever give up?), on the other side of the coin, there have been some real successes. Those that would immediately spring to mind are Eminem who hasn’t resurfaced since 8 Mile (2008), LL Cool J, Queen Latifah and good ol’ Marky Mark, now a respected actor although rarely appears without at least one bare-chested candy shot. But no doubt about it, Will Smith leads the way, churning out movie after movie. (Can anyone remember his small screen debut in The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air?). If Juice (1992) is anything to go by, had the deceased Tupac Shakur been with us today, this bad boy may well have challenged Mr Smith for his Hollywood throne. If you did not witness Tupac’s stunning performance as a vicious thug during the film’s theatrical release, now is your chance, with Juice having a re-boot on DVD on 3 Oct.
Back in the day when snow-wash jeans, heavy gold bling and name belts were kicking it; hi-top haircuts were considered cool (think Kid n Play), Latifah was still in the closet and Tupac ruled the hip hop world – there came the birth of ‘Hood’ films. Features that embraced urban culture that generally included hip hop music, street gangs, racial discrimination, poverty, and all other aspects of the problems of young black men coming of age or struggling in a predominantly white society. It’s all swimming around here, in Juice, the directional debut of cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson who’s photography credits include Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) and Malcolm X (1992); and also Eddie Murphy concert film Raw.
The film focuses on the lives of four black youths growing up in Harlem, following the daily activities and struggles in the young men’s lives. What starts out as innocent mischief grows into something more serious as each day passes. And yes, Juice is full of the stereotypes that one would expect within this genre (ironic, we know, being made by black filmmakers) with the pretty-boy DJ hero, Raheem (Khalil Kain); the delinquent baby-daddy Steel (Jermaine Hopkins) and the psychotic Bishop (Tupac Shakur). The excellent cast also includes a young Queen Latifah and Samuel L Jackson who seems to have always been middle-aged from his appearance in this 20 year old film.
Whilst there are more memorable ‘Hood’ films such as Boyz n the Hood (John Singleton ,1991) and Menace II Society (Allen and Albert Hughes,1993) and New Jack City (Mario Van Peebles 1991), Juice holds it’s own, having received a positive response at the time of its theatrical release.
With very few of these films gaining critical or commercial success, and with movies of this genre on the decline since the late 1990s, Juice is undoubtedly an urban culture collectors item. Had he been alive today, Tupac the rapper, may have become better known for being an acclaimed actor.
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