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Recommended Only If You Can't Wait For A Better Edition
on September 7, 2003
And by better edition, I mean a DVD with at least a few extras on it like the Dead Presidents video "Walk On By" by soulmeister Isaac Hayes (which precedes the movie on the VHS edition), as well as behind-the-scenes, or commentary from the cast and crew. I've bought "bare bone" DVDs before, so I'm not saying don't buy this DVD because there aren't extras on it. For me, it's just that having a video tape of the movie with at least the video on it, then buying a DVD (in essence, an upgrade) without the video or any other extras is crazy.
The Hughes Brothers' Dead Presidents was one of the cooler films from 1995. After the success of their debut movie Menace II Society from 1993, I remember wondering (with anticipation) how the Hughes would follow-up with their next film. Then the trailers starting running, showing the cast and choice scenes with the menacing makeup, backed by a soundtrack featuring a collection of soul classics. Incidently, the Dead Presidents soundtrack took on a life of its own as well, proving so successful a second volume was released. The movie itself is just too cool for words. The Brothers have a style unto themselves, though they admit to prominent influences as inspiration. You have to give it up to their choice cast as well - Larenz Tate (Menace II Society) , Chris Tucker (Friday), Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under), N'Bushe Wright (Blade), Keith David (The Thing), Bokeem Woodbine (Caught Up), Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez (187), and several other familiars.
Most people will credit Chris Tucker more because he provides the "in your face" funny-funny, but Larenz Tate owns this film. Tate, who I equate with other great actor Don Cheadle, turns out another great performance with the greatest of ease and likeability. Even when he pistol-whips a bank guard, Tate makes you feel for his character even if you don't exactly agree with his choices and actions because you know what motivated the action. The best thing about a Hughes Brothers movie is there is never a boring moment. The plot, direction and performances will hold your attention while the music, set design, threads, and conscienceness will have you waxing nostalgia...or bombarding your parents with a curious interest depending on where you're at in age. If you can overlook the lack of extras, I highly recommend the disc - or rather the movie.