Studio Home Entertainment // 1999 // 73 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 22nd, 2004
"Hey, I'm bored. Let's film some rappers scowling!"
I'm currently looking for a strong enough antiseptic to wash the taste of Urban Menace out of my mouth. An amateurish foray, this is, filmed with awful stock and acted with the flair of wild inexperience. Snoop Dogg plays the mysterious ex-priest known as Caleb, crusading through the inner city doing his pious part of slaughtering gang-bangers.
This storyline really doesn't surface, however, until two-thirds into the movie, but that's not saying much as the entire flick is 73 minutes long, with nearly 15 minutes of that taken up by opening and closing credits! Really, all in all there are like four or five scenes total in the film.
And the majority of the movie is one extended chase scene, with everything filmed in an abandoned warehouse. No, seriously, like everything.
Here's the skinny, and I'm talking skinny: Caleb, the aforementioned priest, had a good, God-fearing thing going with his church. He was reaching out to the kids, helping families and all sorts of needy individuals, just being a straight-up nice guy.
All of this went down the Holy toilet, however, as gang violence erupted, and Caleb's church received the brunt of the abuse...it burned to the ground, with said individuals, and, apparently, Caleb himself.
"I loved those kids," Caleb says. "They all burned in hell for being God's angels." Hmm, questionable theology, that.
Fast forward, and we meet King (T.J. Storm), a gang-banger looking to ditch the hard-core street scene and take his family as far away from the ghetto. Only problem is he has do one last job for two gang leaders (played unintelligibly by Big Pun and Fat Joe). The rappers deliver the lines at extreme close-ups, with their rather large mugs dominating the screen.
So that's the setup. What follow is King ending up at the warehouse, and all hell breaks loose. Caleb shows up and wreaks havoc on all hapless gang members. Eventually King and Caleb team up and unleash dual-fisted, gun-slinging action and so on and so forth.
If you're looking for a movie with many big-name rappers, a streaming rap soundtrack, and more profanity than if a sailor stubbed his big toe, Urban Menace might be your cup of Colt 45.
If, however, you're looking for 83 minutes of entertainment better than Urban Menace watch your bird feeder for 83 minutes. The movie sucks.
Ice-T gets some top billing, but fans of the summer beverage-cum-rapper will be undoubtedly disappointed: he offers an introduction and a voice-over, but beyond that is non-existent. Snoop Dogg does have some charisma on screen, but here he's reduced to a scowling scenery-chewer, with poor dialogue to work with.
And it's filmed in an extremely out-of-focus, washed-out style. It's as if the filmmakers opted for the "Glaucoma Lens" for their camera. Seriously, I felt I was watching the whole movie without my glasses and inhaling paint fumes.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix pumps out the throbbing rap score, and there is an option for a music-only track. Beyond that, the movie is just gunshots and F-bombs.
Bonus items include two commentary tracks by director Albert Pyun (who reveals such wisdom-drenched insights as: "We got a shot without actually having to shoot a shot") and actors T.J. Storm and Tahitita (not the vacation getaway), some rap star trivia, trailers, and a hodge-podge of behind-the-scenes stuff.
Sorry Snoop and company, but you guys are tapped in a menace to my DVD player.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Studio Home Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Music-Only Track
* Two Commentary Tracks
* Photo Gallery
* Rap Artist Trivia Game