Boyz N The Hood John Singleton

Remarkably Boyz N The Hood was the first project for 23-year-old writer/director, John Singleton, the first substantial role for Cuba Gooding Jr. and the first acting stint for Ice Cube, who was at his musical peak.

The gritty tale of growing up in the streets of South Central Los Angeles starts with some fantastic backtracking, we see a young Tre use up his last straw with his mother (Angele Bassett) and is shipped to live with his father, Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne), in the ghetto. Furious is hard on his son, but he’s just trying to prepare a strong-minded man. As a few years pass we are brought into the world of Doughboy (Ice Cube), who has just been released from prison and his brother Ricky (Morris Chestnut), who has the potential to be a professional football player and escape the terror that looms in the streets. Meanwhile, a grown-up Tre tries to make sense of it all and has to rethink everything Furious taught him when tragedy hits close.

Boyz N The Hood was deemed a violent film when it was first released 12 years ago, but looking back you can see that the majority of this story is far more tame compared to the films it inspired, such as Menace II Society and New Jersey Drive.

This DVD looks more impressive than it really is, but the extras are notable in terms of quality over quantity. Singleton gives a very calm full-length commentary as he reflects on his first project, but the greatest bonus is the impressive 45-minute documentary that gathers the original cast back for interviews on the film that launched their acting careers. There’s even a really great deleted scene that involves a confrontation between Doughboy and Furious that needed to have happened in the final cut, seeing as Dough and Furious were basically good and evil. A solid package for a very important film. Plus: music videos, trailers, filmographies and production notes. (Columbia)