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Saturday, 25 November 2017

Retro Review: Jason's Lyric (1994)

Jason's Lyric
Cast: Allen Payne, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Eddie Griffin, Suzzanne Douglas, Lisa Nicole Carson, Forest Whitaker
Genre: Erotic Romantic Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $20 million

Plot: A salesman's fledging romance with a winsome waitress is jeopardized by his brother, a no-good, drug abusing thief

'A Blighted Tale Of Two Halves: Okay As An Urban Crime Movie, But Forgettable & Shallow In The Love Sense'

Ho-hum and dreary romantic drama that doubles up as a hood drama in the vein of Boyz N Da Hood, Jason's Lyric is quite frankly patchy, which disappoints in the romance elements - yet does well as a standard urban gang-based flick. The film's issues are further bogged down by the inconsistency of the direction it chooses to take, and alas, making it conflicted and confusing to follow. 

Set in Galveston, Houston, Jason's Lyric is a modern urban retelling of the Cain and Abel myth: Jason is the easy-going big brother and exemplary adult, who does right, but who is left haunted by the childhood memory of killing his violent and drunken father, during a fight with his mother. His younger brother is a supposed troublemaker and a wannabe hoodlum and is considered by his mother as the Black sheep of the family. Issues of sibling rivalry and harmony are further wedged by the arrival of a young woman by the name of Lyric, who enters the picture and into Jason's life that is further heightened by the sex scene in the Bayou. Jason is later torn between his love for Lyric and supporting and helping his brother, Joshua who is a gang member & further lured towards Lyric's half-brother, played by Naughty by Nature rapper, Treach and who is so emotionally attached to Jason & their mother. 

When the film goes down the romantic route, it becomes dull and bland, whenever there is a scene involving the brothers getting along or falling out of brotherly love & getting into a feud, it becomes watchable and more effective. The crime heist scene is very much identical to the one as seen in Dead Presidents and Set It Off, although it is not as good as it is here as it was in those movies. 

The film later reveals who shot their father and that Josh is a person who is so set in his ways, he has no intention of changing for the greater good. 

Jason's Lyric, which as a matter of fact was originally rated NC-17 - only for a few seconds of the sex scenes were edited down and thus, making it R-rated - is an attempt to juxtapose a love story onto a hard-edged Boyz N Da Hood gang-land type subtext, but it is also not quite a good one seeing as a) the romance/love story just wasn't that well conceived and b) the street gang's element lacked impetus and clout that other films of this type have achieved and done far better in than with this effort. The performances were good, especially by Allen Payne who has since surfaced on the sitcom, House of Payne, but Jada Pinkett was underwhelming and plus, she did it better in Set It Off, two years after this movie came out. 

This film is also far from being labelled as a romantic drama because the romantic element is not that well done and with the story veering off-track & becoming uneven and swiftly assembled & the emotional relationships becoming so tangled up it puts a strain on Jason's LyricThis really put me off for enjoying it and the performances. 

Final Verdict:

At times evoking emotion and sensibility when it needed to in parts, Jason's Lyric felt uneven and just didn't gel together. Despite the opening and third acts, it truly lacked the slick and tight direction & the story just didn't have that much momentum. Come the end of the movie, Jason's Lyric is a hodgepodge of ideas, storylines, characters that didn't flow so well. After a lively opening, it concludes on a limp note. 

If the film had decided whether to go down the love story route, and it was conceived better, or the hood drama route and stick with it throughout, then the film would have turned out far better than the one I saw. 

Yet as far as I see to it, Jason's Lyric felt to me as a bit of a letdown. 


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