Rock the Bells Film Review
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Hip-Hop Documentary Chronicles Wu-Tang Clanís Swan Song at 2004 Concert

Rock the Bells

Rated R for nudity, sexuality, pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs, drug use, graphic violence, and gratuitous gore.
Running time: 191 minutes
Studio: Seventh Art Releasing

Rock the Bells - Film Review by Kam Williams

Very good (3 stars)

Fans of the rap game know that the Wu-Tang Clan was comprised of nine gangstas with menacing monikers like Masta Killah, Ghostface Killah, Olí Dirty Bastard (aka ODB), GZA, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Raekwon the Chef, RZA and U-God. Devotees of the group are probably likewise familiar with the Clanís reputation as notorious no-shows.

It is for this reason, I suppose, that Rock the Bells might find an audience among those committed to the so-called thug life. For the movie is more about the efforts of music entrepreneur Chang Weisberg simply to reunite the naughty nonet for what would be its final concert in San Bernardino, California during the summer of 2004.

Shot just four months before the late ODB would OD on cocaine that November, most of the film is devoted to the day-long rap festivalís frantic promoter, a whirling dervish who attends to virtually aspect of the show with the help of a skeleton crew. Besides the Clan, eight other acts were scheduled to appear, including Redman, who emerges from his limo issuing an urgent mandate for marijuana, ordering, ďFind some herb! Now! And I ainít kidding!Ē

As amusing as that might be, some of the lesser-known performers still steal the show, like this pudgy, college-bred white rapper who boasts about the size of his manhood on stage before proceeding to take his pants off to wave it at the less than appreciative females in attendance. This rhyming exhibitionist turns out to be a rather good sport despite being pelted with garbage incessantly during his entire performance. At one point, he drapes himself with an American flag, hoping that the audience might end the barrage out of respect for Old Glory, but to no avail.

As if hip-hopís answer to Woodstock, the gathering gets uglier as it unfolds, and again and again it invariably falls to the ethnically-ambiguous Chang, conveniently ever on camera, to deal with each crisis, whether with cops concerned about contraband, artists upset about the crappy sound system, the often impatient and unruly patrons, or his overwhelmed employees. Though also featuring Redman, Dilated Peoples, MC Supernatural, Sage Francis, Eyedea & Abilities, Chalie 2na, and DJ Numark, the picture proves to be a fitting posthumous tribute to ODB and the Wu-Tang Clan, given their chosen genreís mandate to keep it real.






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