The 50 Best Movies of the '90s

34. Menace II Society (1993)

Director: Allen and Albert Hughes
Stars: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, MC Eiht, Samuel L. Jackson, Jada Pinkett

The debate will rage on forever between which is the all-time crowning achievement in "hood cinema": John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood or the Hughes Brothers' Menace II Society. Both films are quality films, but in very different ways. For instance, Menace is the tougher film, relentlessly bleak and devoid of sentiment.

This Watts-set debut from siblings Allen and Albert Hughes holds nothing back. The body-count is high, the characters (even the protagonist, actor Tyrin Turner's Caine) are equal parts sympathetic and terrifying, and the payoff is fearlessly tragic.

In the end, Menace II Society forces viewers to draw their own conclusions about who's right, who's wrong, and who the good guys are, if any even existed in the first place. For a couple of filmmaking novices, that's remarkable. MB

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