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on 26 December 2003
If you ever wanted a great example of pure cinema drama at its finest, "Boyz N the Hood" is it. It didn't take long for me to completely involve myself during the viewing of this film. It's powerful, sad, scary, and filled with heart. This is one of those films that completely takes you by surprise by giving you something that you weren't expecting at all. John Singleton's directorial debut doesn't fail to shine for one second in this human-drama powerhouse.
The film focuses around three friends who live in South Central, Los Angeles; a place where drugs, guns, and violence appears to be around every corner. The three friends are Tre, Ricky, and Doughboy. Tre's father has tried his best to raise Tre into becoming a real man; supplying him with knowledge and wisdom. Ricky has dreams of being a professional football player while his brother, Doughboy, is always getting into some kind of trouble, whether it be with the law or the neighborhood gang-bangers. In the end, the film is about choices and how every action can set off a chain of events.
In the exclusive documentary that's included on this 2-Disc Anniversary Edition DVD, John Singleton says that this was the movie he was born to make, and he's able to show us exactly that and nothing less. Making the movie was taking a pretty big risk, as there was nothing quite like it on the market; however, that didn't stop him from delivering an incredible debut that really stands out from the rest. The main misconception of this movie is that people are willing to automatically assume that the movie is violent and is only about violence (these being people who have never watched the movie) when in actuality, the film focuses more on the aftermath of violent acts rather than the actual acts being carried out. The main focus is always on the characters, and Singleton does a superb job of never losing sight of that. The story is delivered with undeniable care through the great direction of John Singleton.
Another factor that makes the film work the way it does is the superb cast behind it. Cuba Gooding, Jr. gives it his all early on in his career and immediately shows promise of a talented actor. Ice Cube proves that not only can he rap, but he can also act by giving life to his character of "Doughboy." Laurence Fishburne is amazing as Tre's father, as he gives an outstanding performance. Everybody else is great as well. This film really launched many careers of many of the actors that appear in this movie.
The 2-Disc DVD edition really does the movie justice as it's loaded with some very cool extras. The movie looks and sounds great. The DVD offers both widescreen and full screen versions of the film. Extras that are included on this 2-Disc Anniversary Edition are theatrical trailers, commentary by John Singleton, an exclusive documentary, music videos, and deleted scenes. The documentary was fascinating to watch and was extremely informative into what went on during pre and post-production. Plenty of goodies for DVD enthusiasts all around.
"Boyz N the Hood" is a touching and exhilarating drama that plays on all of one's emotions. The characters are very real and are easy to care for, and the story is well-structured and executed. I cannot think of a single flaw that I ran across while watching the film. It definitely has become a new favourite in a short amount of time. There is real power within the film that has a unique effect on us when we watch it, or at least it did on me. Definitely a film to check out if you have not already.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 January 2015
John Singleton’s 1991 LA-based 'gang drama’ was made in the midst of a whole range of films attempting to address the 'race issue’ in the US, notably the likes of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever and Mario van Peebles’ New Jack City, but whereas Lee’s films (in particular) looked (predominantly) at black vs non-black race issues, Singleton’s drama focuses specifically on social issues (gang violence, poverty, sexism, education) within the black community. Indeed, Singleton’s opening intertitles, spelling out the 'problem’ in terms of the proportion of US 'black on black’ (male) killings, make for shocking reading (and it appears that, sadly, urban deprivation and violence within the US black community are still as much of an issue over two decades later).

Although Singleton’s film has been badged as a 'gang drama’ its scope is actually more wide-ranging and subtle than that. Using as its basis the father-son relationship between Laurence Fishburne’s level-headed, responsible father (and, what I would call, 'light activist’) Jason Styles and Cuba Gooding Jr’s teenage son, Tre, Singleton develops a 'coming of age’ drama, but also touches on the related issues of dysfunctional families, teenage parenting, educational aspirations and police brutality. Thus, the film’s first hour or so is relatively slow-moving and considered – working well for me when addressing the domestic frictions between Tre and his friends – Morris Chesnut’s aspiring footballer Ricky, Ice Cube’s street-wise 'gangster’ Doughboy and Dedrick D Gobert’s smart-talking Dookie – and between adults Jason, his estranged partner Angela Bassett’s Reva and admirer, Tyra Ferrell excellent as the feisty Brenda; however, being less effective during some of the rather clichéd romantic interludes (the syrupy soundtrack here not helping). I also felt that Jason’s 'political motivations’ – attempting to maintain his 'community’ at the expense of its gentrification – were not explored sufficiently (which might have shed some additional light on the causes of the community’s problems).

The adrenalin begins to flow once Singleton 'ups the ante’ and Tre, Ricky and Doughboy are confronted by a 'rival gang’ – setting Tre in conflict with his father’s attempts to 'keep him on the straight and narrow’. Thereafter, whilst undoubtedly delivering an engaging mix of excitement and tragedy, the plot’s trajectory has a certain inevitability about it, though still providing a powerful and poignant conclusion. I’m afraid nowadays I always use David Simon’s The Wire as a yardstick to measure US urban drama (its devastating 3rd series being a good comparator for Singleton’s film) and whilst Boyz N The Hood is not (for me) on a par with Simon’s masterpiece (admittedly, Simon did have significantly more screen time to develop his plot and characters) it remains a piece of compelling cinema.
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1991

"One out of every twenty-one Black American males will be murdered in their lifetime"

"Most will die at the hands of another Black male"

"Increase The Peace" is the closing message of John Singleton's powerful, intelligent and affecting call for calm in South Central Los Angeles. Often mistakenly presumed by those who haven't seen it to be a film that glamorises violence, Singleton's debut film takes us into South Central and holds us there by just shooting the story. No trickery or overtly moralistic posturing from the director {and writer}, just an unpretentious look at life in a modern ghetto.

The story follows three black teenagers as they ponder on what life holds for them as adulthood lurks from around the corner. Brothers Doughboy {Ice Cube} and Ricky Baker {Morris Chestnut} and best friend Tre Styles {Cuba Gooding Jr}, each have the usual worries that come with leaving the teenage years behind. Parents, girls, careers, not returning to the pen! But this is no ordinary coming of age drama, we have been party to this neighbourhood that these boys live in. This is a place where a trip to the store can get you killed in a drive by shooting. A place where those keen to learn, and do their homework have their muse shattered by the frequent sound of gunshots and sirens filling the South Central night.

Tho Singleton can be accused of painting some of his characters as too saintly, he should be forgiven since this is after all, a message movie. Besides which his portrait of this particular neighbourhood is done from honest memory since he himself be a former youth of South Central LA. There in lies one of Boyz's trump cards, Singleton, thru his own observations, asks of those in "The Hood" to take responsibility for what they do. Something that is potently given narrative credence courtesy of Tre's father's {a fabulous understated Laurence Fishburne} deep musings. Once the built up tension explodes with the inevitable tragedy that all should be ready for, the impact is like a sledgehammer hitting bone. Not in a blood letting for impact sake, but with it's aftermath as a family soaks up the situation. It gives 90s cinema one of its most affecting and damning scenes, one that once viewed is hard to fully shake out of the memory bank. Here Singleton could possibly have bowed out of the story, but he goes further, expanding the aftermath and taking us, along with the characters, to it's final "Increase The Peace" dénouement.

It's been called everything from an After School Special to the most important Black American movie made thus far. I agree with the last assessment. 9/10
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Rick, it's the Nineties. Can't afford to be afraid of our own people anymore, man.

1991

"One out of every twenty-one Black American males will be murdered in their lifetime"

"Most will die at the hands of another Black male"

"Increase The Peace" is the closing message of John Singleton's powerful, intelligent and affecting call for calm in South Central Los Angeles. Often mistakenly presumed by those who haven't seen it to be a film that glamorises violence, Singleton's debut film takes us into South Central and holds us there by just shooting the story. No trickery or overtly moralistic posturing from the director {and writer}, just an unpretentious look at life in a modern ghetto.

The story follows three black teenagers as they ponder on what life holds for them as adulthood lurks from around the corner. Brothers Doughboy {Ice Cube} and Ricky Baker {Morris Chestnut} and best friend Tre Styles {Cuba Gooding Jr}, each have the usual worries that come with leaving the teenage years behind. Parents, girls, careers, not returning to the pen! But this is no ordinary coming of age drama, we have been party to this neighbourhood that these boys live in. This is a place where a trip to the store can get you killed in a drive by shooting. A place where those keen to learn, and do their homework have their muse shattered by the frequent sound of gunshots and sirens filling the South Central night.

Tho Singleton can be accused of painting some of his characters as too saintly, he should be forgiven since this is after all, a message movie. Besides which his portrait of this particular neighbourhood is done from honest memory since he himself be a former youth of South Central LA. There in lies one of Boyz's trump cards, Singleton, thru his own observations, asks of those in "The Hood" to take responsibility for what they do. Something that is potently given narrative credence courtesy of Tre's father's {a fabulous understated Laurence Fishburne} deep musings. Once the built up tension explodes with the inevitable tragedy that all should be ready for, the impact is like a sledgehammer hitting bone. Not in a blood letting for impact sake, but with it's aftermath as a family soaks up the situation. It gives 90s cinema one of its most affecting and damning scenes, one that once viewed is hard to fully shake out of the memory bank. Here Singleton could possibly have bowed out of the story, but he goes further, expanding the aftermath and taking us, along with the characters, to it's final "Increase The Peace" dénouement.

It's been called everything from an After School Special to the most important Black American movie made thus far. I agree with the last assessment. 9/10
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on 21 May 2012
This is the standard by which any youth gangster movie should be judged.

Moral, moving and utterly compelling, there is not one second of slack in this
gutsy coming of age tale of freinds growing up set amidst the squalor and violence of South Central L.A.

Lawrence Fishbourne of Matrrix fame is the lynchpin as Furious , father of Trae, an intelligent kid in danger of being swept away by the gang vendettas around him.
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on 10 July 2004
Its quite hard to believe that John Singleton was only 23 years old when he wrote and directed this amazing film. It centres around a group of friends, played by Cuba Gooding Jr, Morris Chestnut and Ice Cube who are growing up in a bad area of America, and how they learn to cope with their violent and volitile surroundings. All three leads are on top form as is Laurence Fishburne, who plays Gooding's firm, but fair, father. Never exploitative or glorified, you actually feel sympathy and really identify with the characters, thanks to the way Singleton develops them. All in all, a truly excellent coming of age film and in my opinion, vastly superior to 1993s similar Menace to society. It just a pity that Singletons films which followed this have never really re-captured the magic he found here.
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on 2 July 2010
1984. South Central Hood...
Tre is a young African-American Boy with a very short temper which subsequently gets him suspended for threats and fighting in Class. His mother decides she can't control his temper and cannot teach him to be a man so she sends him to live with his Father (played brilliantly by Laurence Fishbourne). Whilst living with his Father he befriends Doughboy and Doughboys Brother, Ricky.
Cut to seven years later, the Boys are grown up. Doughboy is a small-time local Drug-Dealer, His Brother Ricky is a Football Star-wannabe and Tre has big-time dreams to go to College and make more of a life for himself whilst still staying true to his African-American roots , under the watchful eye of his inspiring Father.
All seems well amongst the Boys, chasing Girls and hanging out, until what starts as a small disagreement at a party quickly escalates into Gang Hatred and Murders with Tre right in the middle, unsure of his fate and the fate of his Friends. Can he and his friends find harmony in the Hood? Do they even want to?
I loved this Movie because it's well shot and scripted, it's extremely well acted (especially from Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Nia Long and Laurence Fishbourne.) Also it's a brutally honest portrayal of life in the Hood by a young man straight from the Hood, which makes the story and characters more genuine. The Film addresses a lot of issues in Society, the responsibilities of Men and carries an extremely strong message. This film is heartbreaking, extremely intelligent and will stay with you for days after watching this.
Boyz N The Hood is essential.
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VINE VOICEon 7 June 2008
Youngster Tre Styles is sent by his mother to live with his disciplinarian father, Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburn) in 1980's South Central Los Angeles to learn how to be a man. Tre avoids the trappings of petty crime and drugs and grows up to be an intelligent and conscientious teenager played by Cuba Gooding Jr. Tre's best friend Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is shaping up to be a fine football player with a college scholarship in the pipeline whereas his older brother Doughboy (Ice Cube) has been in and out of institutions, and now spends his days drinking on the porch with friends with a gun tucked in his waistband.

John Singleton was only 23 when he penned and directed Boyz 'N' The Hood. Having grown up in South Central himself I assume his portrayal of the neighbourhood is accurate and if it is, youngsters living there in the 1980's and early 1990's were living in a war zone. All the usual growing up things teenage boys like to do such as chasing girls and hanging out with friends is disrupted by violence, drive by shootings and police harassment. Furious Styles lectures Compton gangsters on how white people were repressing black communities by making sure they had the guns, liquor and drugs to kill one another which may seem a little paranoid and far fetched but you can't blame people who grew up in South Central LA for feeling that way. Every day in the 'hood really is a struggle for survival for Tre and his pals as bullets fly indiscriminately every night and everyone has a brother who has been shot or is in the pen'.

After starting out as a coming of age drama, Boyz 'N' The Hood is inevitably shattered by tragedy when good guy Ricky is shot dead after a minor altercation with some gang members. This proves to be a turning point in both Tre and Doughboy's lives. Tre must decide if he wants to be sucked into the violent cycle that will ensue should he seek vengeance and Doughboy knows of no other option than vengeance. Tre steps away from the gangster life (much to Furious's relief) whilst Doughboy takes his final step into it.

Boyz 'N' The Hood offers most of us a view into a life we will never know. Where there is little hope of becoming what you want to be and where human life is cheap. Singletons powerful script is brought to life by powerful performances from a talented cast. The scene where Ricky is brought home and laid on the couch is heart wrenching as Doughboy's retribution is heart pounding. If Singleton wanted to bring attention to the conditions in the deprived areas of the US then he succeeded as Boyz became a huge hit. He also succeeded in making one of the best films of the 1990's and the final powerful message 'Increase the peace' really hits home.

Like this? Try: Training Day
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on 7 October 2012
This is obviously a lot peoples top ten material, including myself. I won't bang on about the movie and story as it's a classic and everyone knows it. What I will say is that only being 20 years old I was expecting the picture quality to have been better than it is. It's way ahead of the various DVD versions from over the years, but there are plenty of Blu Rays from this era that have been released with amazing results in HD. I'm glad I bought it, but feel to give 5* it had to have a better picture than it does.
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on 7 October 2007
The interesting aspect about the film was character development. In the beginning of the film's credits you hear a gang member whining about someone he has a grudge with, where as a friend calms him down by taking him for a ride which eventually turns out to be a "drive by shooting" of the very individual being bragged about by other and ending with the innocent sounds of a young boy crying over his brother's murder.

Then we see a young Tre Styles getting into trouble at school because of a classroom fight and then taken to his father (played so brilliantly by Laurance Fishburne) to live with. It's easy to see why this became such a huge hit as it was one film that many reached out to, due to the positive themes of one wishing for a better life and parents guiding him/her in the right direction.

Performances were a real stand out in this. Already mentioned was Laurance Fishburne as Mr. Furious Styles (what a name) and the beautiful Angela Basset as Tre's concerned Mother. Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding couldn't have been more rewarding in this film as well as the lovely Nia Long as Cuba's girlfriend and Regina King too (all to be later reunited in starring in Friday - except for Cuba though).

It's not surprising to learn that many of them would turn out to be huge stars due to the success of this feature and acting credibility.
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