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Trimark Pictures presents
State Property (2000)

"Get down or lay down."
- Beans (Beanie Sigel)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: June 24, 2002

Stars: Beanie Sigel, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, Memphis Bleek
Other Stars: Omillio Sparks, Sundy Carter
Director: Abdul Malik Abbott

Manufacturer: DVXX
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, sexuality, nonstop language, and drug content
Run Time: 01h:24m:00s
Release Date: May 28, 2002
UPC: 658149795426
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- D+B-B- C+

DVD Review

For anyone who's had cable for any length of time, you've probably already seen State Property numerous times, or at least, bits and pieces of it. The reason I say this is because if you haven't bothered to delete channels like MTV off your station list, you've undoubtedly stumbled upon a 'gangsta-rap' video, or something reasonably similar. If you take the average rap video and pad it out to 90 minutes, you'd end up with State Property, another in the long, long line of films in which gangsta-rappers star as characters that mirror their music in a film that basically serves as an expanded commercial for their work. In this case, Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z (who appears for about 1 minute) are the real-life rap talent.

Beans (played by, you guessed it, Beanie Sigel) is a fairly everyday kinda guy who decides to get involved in crime because, quite simply, it pays. He goes from street scam-artist, to full-blown crime boss in surprisingly short time, and this is mainly because he's cold-blooded and ruthless. He's modeled his career after classic gangsters, figuring if it worked for them, it will work for him in even greater quantities. He teams up with two other fellows, Blizz (Memphis Bleek) and Baby Boy (Omillio Sparks), and as a trio, they rule the streets. On the side, Beans amazingly still has time to start a family, though a very dysfunctional one. Despite attempts at making supposedly deep statements with this family deconstruction angle, the film's overall plot is paper thin, and serves to do little more than allow its central characters to kill people, abuse their loved ones, and think about how many more crimes to commit.

I've made no secret that I feel most of these "gangsta' films are basically pointless. Many of them pretend to embrace realism and tell cautionary, shocking stories about crime on the streets, but when the day is done, I think we basically have a big advertisement for someone's album (the disc case does, in fact, have a "featuring the hit single!" sticker on it) and little in the way of serious filmmaking. Now, I'm not on some crusade to say the movies and music are evil; I just think the motives are questionable. On some level, I suppose this makes State Property something of a modern exploitation film. I'd like to appreciate that fact, but it's hard when there's nothing creative or remotely original here. Most people even thinking about seeing this film probably already know what they're getting into, but I will caution viewers that the film is extremely violent, unbelievably profane, and quite misogynistic. However, the mantra, like so many other gangster films, is that crime doesn't pay, and all this eventually leads to a brutal end.

I think on one level, when said and done, these movies should be judged for whether or not they really do make the characters seem tragic and unlikable. Here, though, it looks like a music video/fantasy party, interrupted by brief inconveniences that are quickly solved through violence. There is no real sense that, other than a sudden end, Beans has really suffered much. Indeed, I think any dark message that may have been intended here has been diluted by the conflict between making something to market Roc-A-Fella Records' new stuff, and being entertaining. Eventually, any problems the film has are sabotaged by the simple things that drag down a lot of movies: bad acting and bland writing. It gets downright silly after awhile, and I think that's the final impression most people will be left with.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The image is solid and generally rendered well, with lots of color depth and a decent treatment of the dark cinematography. There is some grain and light compression artifacts in a few sequences, but nothing major. There is little to complain about, and the anamorphic enhancement does add some richness to the picture.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track isn't as active as one might expect, and seems to instead focus more on the soundtrack, which is really charged into all the channels, especially the bass. The audio is generally clean and satisfying, but some of the scenes have hard-to-hear dialogue, probably due to how the vocals were recorded at the time. The action sequences are a bit more charged, with some surround effects and heavy directionality, but otherwise, the track is pretty much a front-soundstage experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in english, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Deleted Scenes
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Abdul Malik Abbott
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The features on the disc start off with a commentary by the director, Abdul Malik Abbot. It's a very well paced and technically motivated commentary in which he discusses all sorts of aspects of making of the film, but oddly enough, there is a tone to his commentary that suggests regret at many of his choices. A 15-minute, making-of piece provides a quick, visual look at the production. It isn't very deep, but it showcases the general filmmaking process and the progression from scene to scene. There are two additional featurettes showcasing the auditioning process for the actors and dancers. While the inclusion of these auditions and script rehearsals seems to make sense, the inclusion of the stripper auditioning tape is rather creepy and pointless, other than to pile on yet more gratuitous sex onto this release. It literally provides no insight into anything; it's just footage of the auditions accompanied by music.
Elsewhere, one can find 6 deleted scenes with optional commentary from Malik-Abbott. The scenes add nothing to the film and are, in fact, pretty much covered by what's already in the movie, so they're deletion seems to be understandable. Three music videos by Beanie Sigel are also presented, each seemingly directed by Abdul Malik-Abbott as well. There is an original trailer rounding out all the features.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Movies like Boyz N' The Hood and New Jack City seem to be, after all these years, still the best examples of these contemporary, street gang pictures. This emerging trend of so-called 'rapsploitation' movies seems to be tapering off a little, and I think it will be a welcome rest.

 


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