Apr 14, 2009

Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan

Any opening remark on the subject of a Wu-Tang Clan featured piece of writing should begin with the words "Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit." Not only because this is a true self-assessment of the legendary Shaolin-based hip-hop group but because it has also become an anthem for a vulgar generation. Stemming from Staten Island which is referred to as Shaolin, this merry band of rappers defied all odds in creating a legendary hybrid of stunning lyricism and classic Kung-fu themes and equipped sound bytes. Finally their story will be told through the eyes of a childhood friend and unfortunately for us, this director/friend also happens to be illiterate as he misspells many a word leaving most of the educated folk stunned, mock-turning away and questioning if what they just saw was legit.

This documentary opens up with the eventual collective piece of Wu-Tang Clan with narration by the director, Gerald Barclay, acclaimed creator of such classics as Bloody Streetz, and explains Prince Rakim's (RZA) grouping of an unheard of expansive rap group to create an early prototype of Wu-Tang Clan. This BET produced documentary chronicles their rise to global fame and success finally slowing down to a halt with the saddening death of Ol' Dirty Bastard, who is humorously alter-egoed as Dirt McGirt. Like it should, not much happens when Ol' Dirty passes. Solo albums are produced and the Wu recollect to release records that are great, but lack the comic intrigue and carny pitch that Big Baby Jesus gave them. All good things do come to an end and with Ol' Dirty's death, the biography becomes almost less than interesting and sees itself as an elongated tribute to the Ol' Dirty Bastard and loses all pride & integrity.

My main gripe with this feature isn't without an inciting event. With the short runtime of barely clocking in at an hour, this film rushes through events that could, no, should be embroidered to fans or "hataz" alike. For instance, the Wu-Tang Clan is secondarily known as marketing geniuses. They have promoted everything from documentaries, books, video games, a clothing line, and DVD restorations but only the clothing line is fleshed and no justice is brought to the other mediums of product inflation. For instance, I would have loved to hear thoughts and interviews about the horrid cult video game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style in which you can engage in 4 player 3D combat. For a self-proclaimed story of the greatest urban performers, this is surely bare bones and finds itself glorifying the Wu-Tang Clan with no instance of stability and focuses on the light more than the dark, which can be understandable in filmic context. Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan also paves the way to make Raekwon and only Raekwon look like a complete dickhead while promising a mutual downfall of fame. Meanwhile, the RZA is glorified to be messianic with a solid vision of hip-hop but this comes as no surprise. After seeing the RZA's acting performance in Derailed, it's easy to see he is a cool cat. On a similar subject of depiction, Ol' Dirty advocates frequent use of his seed and spreads it throughout many Negro women. That nigga has 13 children and I bet they are all from different mothers. A true hero for children to look up to, ODB also managed to save a little girl, age 4, from a burning automobile. Irony within, ODB would allegedly later light himself ablaze in order to escape from Clinton. That scene remains one of very few that has any materialization of being considered "powerful."

If my thoughts appear jumbled on this documentary, it's no fault of my own. This is a documentary that "documents" hardly anything of importance and remains as a collected package of interviews with the men responsible for this cultural Asiatic phenomenon and several cohorts such as Popa Wu, the platonic father of the group and many other acquaintances. Halfway through the feature, the sight on the Clan is lost and trails off to snootily follow the tail of the dearly departed Dirty Bastard and his trails & tribulations. The RZA bellowed in recorded concert footage that "We're not going to mourn his death but to celebrate his life." And contrary to these moving words amplified to a sea of fans, Barclay mourns ODB's death with a shoddy documentary that is almost as incomplete as his spelling education. For a "Greatest Hits" moment of archived footage of interviews, concerts, and music videos, Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan isn't a bad reference piece but will ultimately disappoint the die hard Wu-Tang fanatic. Look at me, I'm disappointed.


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