Boyz n the Hood (Blu-ray)
“One out of every 21 black males will be murdered before he is 25 — most will die at the hands of other black men.”
With these words, white on a black screen, BOYZ N THE HOOD begins. Right from the start it is raw, intense, and phenomenal. I had forgotten what a great film this is. Who would have guessed a young filmmaker (Singleton) fresh out of USC would create a film that would go on to receive critical acclaim, launch the careers of a ton of young actors, and become a defining film for generations of kids from south central Los Angeles.
This film is an ensemble character study, but the main character presented is actually the living city of Los Angeles. Teeming with oppression – the world in which the ensemble lives is loud, vulgar, and angry. For someone like me, growing up in a small suburb of a small Metropolitan area in Kansas, it is both foreign and scary. But this film is different than many others in that everything is grounded in truth. The emotions are as raw and honest as they’ve ever been portrayed on film. The type only possible with actors who truly believe in the quality of the piece.
The ensemble, consisting primarily of unknowns at the time, is intimidating today: Laurence Fishburne (THE MATRIX), Cuba Gooding Jr. (JERRY MAGUIRE), Ice Cube (FRIDAY), Morris Chestnut (THE BEST MAN), Angela Bassett (AKEELAH AND THE BEE), Tyra Ferrell (JUNGLE FEVER), Nia Long (ARE WE THERE YET?), and Regina King (JERRY MAGUIRE). The group speaks for themselves.
The story follows the lives of a trio of friends: Tre (Gooding Jr.), who’s trying to get out of the ‘hood to find something better; Doughboy (a standout performance from Ice Cube), a low level dealer who cares deeply for his friends and family, and Ricky (Chestnut), Doughboy’s brother, and the golden child of the family. Ricky is a football player who is the ‘favorite son’ and star of the neighborhood. Tre’s father (Fishburne) instills in him values and rules which are clearly absent from his friend’s lives. He is a feared and respected man, but he wants something better for his son.
Everything that happens in this community is balanced on the edge of a knife, and the movie conveys this perfectly. From the constant sound of helicopters, gunshots, crying… the sounds of the city are everywhere. A word of warning – the film is as graphic as the subject matter suggests. If you haven’t seen it, please go out and find this movie. You will not regret it.
Video: (1080p 1.85:1 Widescreen) The transfer is decent. It’s a little bit flat at times, but Singleton really knows how to put together a memorable image.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio track is phenomenal. You can literally feel the helicopters, gunshots, and other sounds that are slowly taking over the city.
Commentary with Director John Singleton: (1:52:07) A great an entertaining commentary, Singleton reveals lots of technical details but also shares personal anecdotes about working with the kids at the beginning of the film and directing actors and extras who were his age or older. (just a note – this is the same commentary as released on the DVD).
The Enduring Significance of Boyz N The Hood: (27:45) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette, the cast and crew talk about the importance of the film.
Friendly Fire: Making of an Urban Legend: (43:17) A documentary that discusses the feeling of oppression that was starting to take over South Central Los Angeles during the time period of the film. Cast and crew share personal experiences and reactions to the film. Highly recommended.
Deleted Scenes: (04:25) Two scenes that didn’t make the final cut, one between Tre and his mother and the other showing Furious trying to protect his son.
Music Videos – Compton’s Most Wanted “Growin’ Up In the Hood”, Tevin Campbell “Just Ask Me To”
Audition Videos: (01:34) An interesting presentation on Blu-ray, the audition tapes are presented as a four way split screen where you can choose between Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Angela Bassett, and Tyra Ferrell. Too short for me, they are each about a minute of dialogue and the actor discussing why they are interested in the specific character.