On November 18th 2008, Paramount will release Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan on DVD. The musical documentary tells the story of ground-breaking rap group, entertainers and businessmen the Wu-Tang Clan, and features all of the original members of the group, including Inspectah Deck, Gano Grills, The GZA, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Method Man, Raekwon, RZA, Jamel Scott and U-God.
Director Gerald “Gee-Bee” Barclay plays narrator to the story of the group that changed the face of rap music, and whose members continue to bring a unique urban flavor to the projects they’re involved with, most notably RZA, who has appeared in and provided soundtracks to a number of film and TV projects including Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Derailed and Afro-Samurai, and Method Man, who engineers and lends lyrics to artists from every genre of the music world. Their inventiveness and talent has kept them from being one-hit-wonders, who simply ride the coat-tails of a style and profit from it. They’ve been the creators of style for others to follow for over 10 years.
This DVD shares the history of the legendary Clan, through interviews and previously unseen concert footage, all spinning a tale of their rise, fall, and ultimately rebirth. It follows these kids from Staten Island, who grew up on a steady diet of kung-fu films, all the way to the heights of fame and power as rappers, record producers, actors and film soundtrack composers. They’ve been involved with everything from clothing to video games, branching out into many different avenues of entertainment and pop culture, while making a success out of all of them.
The focus of the story arch and drama are the internal troubles within the group and personal problems that ultimately tore them apart. Struggles with personal demons led to the incarceration and eventual death of founding member Russell Jones aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Much of the film is dedicated to his issues and acts as something of a tribute to him.
The documentary touches on nearly every aspect of the group’s history, however it never really analyzes anything deeply. It touches the surface of numerous events, but only really delves into the death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. One part that I wanted to learn more about was the group’s issues with RZA’s brother, Divine. Early in their career, Divine was the group’s manager, and some members felt that they weren’t being paid fairly. However the viewer is basically left to decide who was right or wrong.
I’d definitely recommend the film to fans of the group, but as a piece of cinematic history and a doc to be enjoyed by those who aren’t necessarily fans of rap music, it lacks follow though and isn’t handled with the style or inventiveness that this group’s story deserves.
Wu includes some informative and entertaining bonus features, including Behind The Wu with director Gee-Bee, which is basically a narrated tour of the group, and Icelene’s Loss: Her Relationship with ODB, which follows OBD’s relationship with his dedicated wife, with whom he had 3 children.
Here is a full list of supplemental features:
- Rackwon the Chef which reveals the Wu-Tang recipe
- RZA cuts through the Hip Hop World
- Behind The Wu with Director Gee-Bee
- Icelene’s Loss: Her Relationship with ODB
- Original Music Video: Wu-Tang is Born: Protect Ya Neck