Sunday, September 26, 2021

Last Man Standing Review: Some New Revelations In An Interesting But Not Well Organized Hip-Hop Documentary


Release date: August 20, 2021
Running time: 90 minutes
Written and Directed By: Nick Broomfield

Suge Knight the former CEO of legendary rap music label Death Row Records was recently sentenced to 28 years imprisonment for manslaughter and other violent crimes not typically associated with a highly successful record executive. This film takes a look at Death Row and how L.A.’s street gang culture had come to dominate its business workings.  The film also looks at the allegation of former LAPD detective Russel Poole that the reprisal killing of Biggie Smalls, a retaliation to the murder of Tupac, was commissioned by Suge Knight with the help of corrupt LAPD officers who were moonlighting at Death Row Records. These police officers were also members of Suge’s criminal gang the Mob Piru’s and with their resources helped orchestrate the hit on Biggie Smalls. The film produces new evidence and witnesses who actually saw these LAPD officers present on the night of Biggie’s murder, and who also testify that critical information had been deliberately withheld and concealed by the LAPD.

Last Man Standing provides a look back at a pivotal time in hip hop, when gangster rap was becoming to dominate and the East Coast / West Coast rivalry was coming to a head.  The film is a follow up to an earlier Nick Broomfield documentary that introduces new information about the Biggie / Tupac beef, murder, and the involvement of Suge Knight in this whole endeavor.  And the film also features plenty of information about the iconic artists, including clips and interviews of those who knew them.  I loved seeing Biggie and Tupac again, and hearing about their careers.  However, the connection to Suge and the overall knowledge that they were destined to die made this a bittersweet reunion.  However, I did like seeing the progression of Tupac as he fell more and more into Suge's influence, falling deeper and deeper into the gangster lifestyle.  

However, despite this being a follow up documentary, it does not seem to reveal much new information.  There are new revelations, especially about certain individuals that were involved in the investigation over the murders, but it does not seem to come to a solid conclusion.  There are some aspects that do sound very conspiracy theory and although the film has some answers, it also seems to leave additional questions.  And despite having a clear goal, it does not seem that well organized.  The presentation is a little disjointed and I think I would have rather had the documentary in distinct chunks to really get the connections.  There were connections drawn in the movie, but they sometimes felt like strings in a giant conspiracy board.  And although the documentary is an overall good one, I also don't know how much it adds over Bloomfield's previous work.  It would have been nice to have something more noticeable for new revelations versus reiteration of older points.

Last Man Standing adds new information and background for the Biggie / Tupac murders, with plenty of 90s footage of the stars and a few new revelations to this sensational case.

Rent it.

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Last Man Standing is available digitally and on demand on August 20, 2021.

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