Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan Gerald K. Barclay

Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan Gerald K. Barclay
The story of how Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan managed to virtually overtake the rap game in the mid-’90s is truly one of the most compelling and influential tales to have emerged in the entire history of hip-hop. Unfortunately this documentary doesn’t do a very good job of telling the story. Director Gerald Barclay grew up with many Wu-Tang Clan members and directed their first video, and while his proximity to the crew allows him to unearth some prized rare footage that will admittedly thrill any Wu devotee, or any hip-hop fan for that matter, his closeness to his subjects appears to impede his storytelling. If you’re looking for any insight into subjects as broad as the philosophy that inspired the group’s lyrics or even deep insight into the recording sessions of classic songs, you won’t find it here. Barclay attempts a linear retelling of the Wu’s rise to fame but even this approach is rife with curious omissions and needless inclusions. While doing justice to the group’s oversized nine personalities would admittedly be challenging for any filmmaker, artists as influential as GZA and even Ghostface are completely shafted in the fleeting camera time and consideration they are given. Understandably, an in-depth section on the wayward life of ODB was included, but even this segment is incomplete. For example, the film inexplicably fails to mention ODB’s cause of death. It is this type of assumed audience knowledge in this documentary that may frustrate or confuse those unfamiliar with the Wu, but even devotees of the group, who will definitely find some archival value in this release, deserve better. (BET/Paramount)