Tupac Shakur-Thug Angel: The Life of an Outlaw (2001)

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Released 17-Jun-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Booklet
Featurette-Interviews (13)
Audio-Only Track-Rashida Jones Telephone Interview
Notes-Tupac's Reading Library
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 91:35
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Spirer
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Tupac Shakur
Quincy Jones
Shock 'G'
Money 'B'
Johnny 'J'
Leila Steinberg
Case Click
RPI $39.95 Music QD3
Johnny 'J'
Femi Ojetunde


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


    Tupac Shakur was more than a musician. He was an artist in the truest sense of the word. While rap is not a mode of expression commonly associated with high art, anyone familiar with the archetypal 'tortured artist' would recognise it in Tupac. He was obsessed with self-analysis and expressed his views on daily life effusively, resulting in a non-stop torrent of poetry, music, acting roles and monologues spoken to anyone who would listen.

    Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac and Makaveli later in life, was born on 16 June 1971 in the Bronx. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was a member of the Black Panthers, a militant political party which fought to address the inequality of life in White Americaah, to quote Eminem. Young Tupac, a voracious reader, absorbed the attitudes and teachings of his mother, stepfather, and other mentors during his formative years. Fuelled by lofty ambitions, a formidable intellect, natural talent, determination and charisma, Tupac's ascension to Hip Hop royalty was as inevitable as his premature demise.

    On 7 September 1996, at the age of 25, Tupac was shot four times in the chest after attending a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas. He died six days later on September 13, Black Friday. To date, no one has been formally charged with his murder. Slayings that went down just after Tupac was shot could be related.

    If you want a more thorough biography of Tupac, as told by those who knew and loved him, then grab a copy of this superb DVD. Produced by Quincy Jones' company QD3 for Black Watch Television in the US, Thug Angel - The Life of an Outlaw presents a multi-media tribute to the life and passions of this famous rapper: a man born, raised and killed on the streets of the country he strove to reform.

    The main footage of Tupac is drawn from one interview recorded at the age of 17, and another taped much later as he fires various automatic weapons at an indoor gun range. The difference between the younger and older Tupac is remarkable. Once articulate and wide-eyed with idealism, Tupac became a reflection of life on poverty row, where potatoes were often cooked as a meat substitute, crime was a hobby and drugs were commonplace. Although outspoken, hard working, generous, and sexually insatiable, Tupac also carried himself like a one-man army: afraid of no-one, suspicious of authority, always looking for a reason to fight. The fires that raged inside Tupac jostled for possession of his mind and spirit. The same man whose favourite piece of music was a passage from Les Miserables also smoked weed constantly and collected AK-47s. It comes as no surprise that he even predicted his own untimely death.

    Interspersed between Tupac's taped interviews are new testimonials by Karen Lee (family friend, publicist), Dr Mutulu Shakur (step-father), Mopreme Shakur (step-brother), Bobby McCall (former Black Panther), Ray Luv (early rap partner), Leila Steinberg (manager 1989-1992), Greg 'Shock G' Jacobs and Money B (from Digital Underground, Tupac's first official touring gig), Malcomb (one of Pac's loyal Outlaws), Johnny 'J' (record producer), Henry Fayson (bodyguard), Michael Badd (Tupac Historian), Quincy Jones and others.

    Interestingly, characters from the Death Row Records era, such as Frank Robinson, another of Tupac's bodyguards and the author of Got Your Back (a cool book), and the notorious boss of Death Row himself Suge Knight, are conspicuously absent. It is also worth mentioning that this DVD does not contain any music by Tupac, apart from early footage of him performing in his first live gig. I assume that Death Row own the rights to most of Tupac's back-catalogue; they were not involved with this documentary. Check out Death Row Uncut and The Best of Tupac (R1) for compilations of video clips. For a documentary about Tupac's final year, have a look at Before I Wake, which did involve biographer Frank Robinson.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Probably shot on digital betacam and in keeping with its TV origins, Thug Angel - The Life of an Outlaw is composed for and presented at a ratio of 1.33:1. The image is not 16x9 enhanced. Overall the picture quality is excellent, with the usual lapses associated with archival footage edited into the main feature.

    As expected, sharpness and detail is pleasing. This is a highly professional production, bringing to mind the crisp hyperrealism of latter-day 'adult' videography. Apart from the garishness inherent with shot-on-tape material, the image is easy on the eye and offers an impressive amount of resolution. High contrast transitions betrayed some edge enhancement, and shadow detail is fair. The archival video footage, such as Tupac's 1988 interview and his Strictly Dope gig in 1989, ranges in sharpness from average to poor.

    Colours are solid and vibrant all round. There are no instances of colour bleed and skin tones are accurate. Saturation tends to be strong; I put that down to being characteristic of the video source used and not a transfer fault.

    The only artefacts worth mentioning relate to the archival video footage. Video noise, cross-colour artefacts, pixelization, undersaturated colours and other similar grievances affect the image, not to mention the usual menu of amateur camerawork gaffes, such as overexposures and focusing problems. One assumes that QD3 did what they could to make these elements presentable, and considering that this stuff is rarely more than 10 years old, most of it looks quite okay.

    I noticed no layer change during the feature, so I assume the dual layer formatting contains part or all of the two and a half hour's worth of supplemental video material.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio track for this music documentary is Dolby Digital 5.1 compressed to 448 kb/s. Some punters may consider this to be overkill, but if the resources and disc space are available, why not do it? Jolly good move, I say.

    Speech is loud and bold with no distortion. Audio sync is fine. Archival audio fidelity is variable.

    The phat beats laid in as sonic wallpaper are delivered by QD3, Johnny 'J' and Femi Ojetunde. While these tunes are not the raw rhyming raps of 2Pac, they do set the mood and complement the subject matter. Within the mix (credited to Earl and Oracle Post) they are accorded the full benefit of the Dolby Digital encoding.

    Occasionally the surrounds participate in telling the story of Tupac, for instance when covers of books he studied fly past the viewer left and right, and with some miscellaneous ambient sounds. My B&W subwoofer was also drafted into service to beef up bass lines in the music. The bulk of the sound design, though, is front-heavy and driven by the centre channel.

    All-in-all, this is a meaty, engaging soundtrack that makes a nice change from the usually adequate, but comparatively reserved Dolby Pro-Logic treatment. Play it with attitude.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    Great menus! Animated, stylish, not 16x9 enhanced, background music, floating titles, easy to navigate, choice shots of Tupac, the whole works.

Interviews

    Unedited versions of interviews shown in the main documentary are presented here. All are full screen with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. They are comprised of:

Tupac's Reading List (9 pages)

    Titles include Roots, Alex Hayley's Grapes of Wrath, 1984 by George Orwell, and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, plus many others.

Photo Gallery (21:10)

    This is an album of photographs featuring Tupac, windowboxed with fast scanning disabled, and no background music. It can be aborted with the remote control's Stop or Menu buttons.

Biography (5 pages)

    Similar to what is described in the booklet.

DVD Credits

Booklet (16 pages)

    Completing the package is this sizeable booklet containing:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I don't have a reliable source of R1 or R2 specifications, however here is what I've discovered so far. These details will change as I get a clearer picture.

    The Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 release misses out on:

    My advice is to go for the Region 4 DVD, since any missing extras are not going to be show stoppers.

Summary

    Thug Angel - Life of an Outlaw paints a largely sympathetic portrait of perhaps the most charismatic and loved personality in Hip Hop. Bestowed with first class production values and contributions from many of Tupac's acquaintances, this documentary stands tall among several other quality examples.

    The Australian DVD boasts a clean video transfer coupled to a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that adds polish and shine to the proceedings. Thug Angel is recommended to fans of Tupac and anyone curious about why he's still revered and remembered six years after his death.

    Thug Angel - Life of an Outlaw has been released to coincide with Tupac's birthday. Keep it real.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

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Comments (Add)
i luv 2pac! - Anom
i loved the movie - marry REPLY POSTED
A True Thug. - Anonymous REPLY POSTED