Plot: A man who was once a vessel of the lord (Snoop Dogg) has given himself over to vengeance, after his family was killed by a ruthless crime syndicate. Crow (Big Punisher) and Terror (Fat Joe) rule the streets with an iron hand, using violence to keep both rivals and allies in check. King (T.J. Storm) is a foot soldier in the crew, but he wants out and is about to make a break, though of course, Terror and Crow don’t just let people walk away from the syndicate. But their attention is diverted of late, as the one time preacher has been preying upon their gang members and no one seems to be able to stop him, so they focus on taking him down. As all of these forces head toward an inevitable showdown, who will survive to run the streets?
Entertainment Value: As much I love the idea of a wild action movie by Albert Pyun with a cast of rap stars on deck, Urban Legend feels like a strange experiment more than a traditional motion picture. The entire movie is washed in this insanely bright light, I suppose to provide an eerie visual presence, but it is just an odd choice and makes this feel like a video game cut scene at times. That feel is bolstered by other low end digital tricks to tweak the visuals, which give Urban Menace a unique look, but not one that is stylish or effective. The narrative is loose, more of a thread to allow Snoop Dogg to go on a rampage, which I like, but the action scenes fail to spark much entertainment, which is a let down, with Pyun in the director’s chair. He is often able to work wonders with little resources, but he can’t make it happen here. A run time of 73 minutes includes a long credits sequence, introduction by Ice T, and the end credits, but even then, the pace is on the slow side. This is one I hoped would be a fun action b movie, but Urban Menace never hits the mark.
As I said, the premise of Snoop Dogg as a supernatural preacher on the hunt for Big Punisher and Fat Joe as crime bosses is one I could get into, but the movie doesn’t do much with the cast. I don’t think anyone would expect superb performances, but you can have the performers play to their strengths or just go over the top, which would make sense with Pyun in charge here. The best performance in Urban Menace belongs to Romany Malco, who has a smaller role, but is fun to watch and seems to get that this is a b movie, rather than an intense crime saga. Fat Joe and Big Punisher are mostly seen in closeups and delivering rather pointless dialogue runs, while Ice T does little aside from his introduction and soundtrack work. Snoop is kind of fun, with the awful digital effects to make him creepier and his ice cold performance, but I would have loved a more dialed up take here.
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