Alright...so gangsta movies aren't normally my thing. Somehow though, "Hustle and Flow" was able to keep my attention and draw me in. There wasn't a time during the entire film that I became bored. There is just something about "Hustle and Flow" that kept me wanting more, and just enjoying the music and the passion behind the film.
"Hustle and Flow" brings us to the streets of Memphis, Tennessee...revealing the world of hustling and living a life where you do anything and everything you can to get by. DJay, a pimp and a hustler, roams the Memphis streets pimping his girl Nola (Taryn Manning) and trying to support pregnant Shug (Taraji P. Henson). Driving around and living without air conditioning, DJay can't help but think that there is something else for him, something better. His passion is music and his dream is a life he doesn't have. When he bumps into an old friend Key (Anthony Anderson), they create a makeshift sound studio in DJay's house. DJay brings his day-to-day existence to life through rap lyrics with the help of Key, Shug (a surprisingly good backup singer), and a white beat boy, Shelby (D.J. Qualls). Stumbling across a beat, DJay has to find a way to get his music to the public and show off his passion for music and life, no matter how difficult it can get.
Director Craig Brewer does a fantastic job of bringing the streets to the film and showing a side of pimping that we haven't seen. Throughout the storyline we are brought to believe in DJay...who we have every reason to hate otherwise, seeing how he is a drug dealer, pimp...you name it, he's done it. Brewer causes us to begin to trust in DJay, showing us that there is hope for something good in everyone.
I truly respect Terrence Howard's ability to bring his character to life. He completely and utterly transforms into DJay and makes us accept him as a bad boy rapper. The wonderful supporting cast doesn't hurt either, and really helps bring some emotion, depth, and understanding to what a pimp's life is like. The best part about this portrayal is that it isn't glamorous. It's not big houses, nice cars, and all the beautiful women in the world. It is a dirty life, trying to get by with the bare necessities. Thankfully the cast brings this portrayal about skillfully and makes us not only see it, but begin to feel for DJay.
"Hustle and Flow" is not a perfect movie by any means. It has its slow moments and it does build quite a bit of character before even getting close to touching the music side of things. Other than that, "Hustle and Flow" is a fantastic film with heart. At its core it truly allows us to dive into the heart of DJay and his girls, and begin to feel for them.
I can't exactly figure out what they were trying to do with the video quality here. Throughout the entire film we get a dirty and grimy sense to everything. I really don't know if it is on purpose or not, but grain is definitely present throughout. The detail is okay...dark areas almost always lose some detail, but sometimes the detail is above par. Otherwise, the blacks are nice, skin tones are good, and all around color is nice. Unfortunately, "Hustle and Flow" just didn't do it for me in the video department.
Here we get a very nice 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track. The use of surrounds here is actually quite nice, with good use of all the speakers for ambient noise. "Hustle and Flow" is mainly filled with dialogue, but does a good job filling the speakers throughout the film with its sound track. The soundtrack fills our ears with some great tunes that are sure to please those people into this type of music. The soundtrack continues to impress throughout and causes us to truly feel the heart of "Hustle and Flow."
Commentary by Writer/Director Craig Brewer: Brewer truly puts his heart into this film, and you can completely feel it in his commentary. He loves his characters, the locations, and he does a fantastic job detailing everything about individual scenes. He loves everything about this film, and as you start to listen more in depth you learn more about the shooting details, writing, directing, locations, and everything else one could want to know! This is a fantastic commentary that is well worth the watch.
Behind the Hustle: Here we get a pretty nice feature that details all of the characters in the film. This feature actually does a great job of informing us not only about our main character DJay, but also the entire supporting cast. It is also fun to learn about Howard and the other cast members actually singing for their roles.
By Any Means Necessary: Here we get a fairly short feature on actually getting "Hustle and Flow" created. It details the struggles that they went through just to finally make it happen.
Creatin' Crunk: All about the music behind "Hustle and Flow."
Memphis Hometown Premiere: Just a behind-the-scenes look at the premiere of "Hustle and Flow" in Memphis.
Paula Jai Parker Audition: Just how it sounds...an audition.
Ludacris & Terrence Howard Rehearsal: Another straightforward feature without much body to it.
Scene Extensions: Yep, 2 of them.
It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp: Acoustic Version of the song. By the way, this song will be stuck in your head for at least a little while after watching the film!
Promotional Spots: Just some promotional pieces for the film.
"Hustle and Flow" is a really good film that forces us to think outside the box and begin to feel for a pimp. We get an un-glamorized pimp that struggles to get by, who has one passion in life...music. Unfortunately the video quality is par at best, and the audio quality is definitely better then the video quality. The special features are pretty much standard, but do have a couple little gems. "Hustle and Flow" comes easy as a Highly Recommend just for the acting alone.