Underhill and Mike Corbera
Curtis Jackson Sr.
While I might not be his biggest fan, I can respect “Fiddy” for actually coming from the streets he raps about. He undoubtedly had a tough life and speaks from actual experience, unlike a lot of gansta rap “artists.” Dealing crack while trying to make it in music, being shot nine times, and raising a child all at once makes for a very interesting and powerful story. Sadly, this “movie” does not represent that at all.
The most glaring flaw is that 50 Cent didn’t actually have anything to do with REFUSE 2 DIE. Pieced together from interviews with his grandfather and a couple of friends, some random animation, and the occasional video of the rapper himself, the documentary is too unfocused—merely meandering along, rambling and repeating the same information over and over again. (You had to sell crack, we get it!) There is also an actor who narrates the film as 50, but his “street thug” impersonation makes the narration pompous and condescending to the audience. It gets real old, real quick. There are even periods of narrative silence, where an unconnected rap song plays against meaningless animation for no reason other than to add minutes on to an already short runtime.
The DVD case boasts of “cutting edge animation.” If they consider this cutting edge, the producers must wet themselves whenever they see a Flash cartoon on the Internet. It honestly looks like a video game from 1994. And the fact that they had to use animation for 70 out of the 80 minutes just shows that the filmmakers didn’t have any real footage to work with.
The one aspect of the film I did enjoy was the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it history of Jamaica, Queens—from the African Americans who settled there during the Great Migration to the birth of hip-hop music from within the “life on the streets.” The movie also does a good job showing how older hip-hop acts helped look after the new generation. (You’re sorely missed Jam Master Jay.)
Filmmaker Commentary: For some odd reason, this track, which features the two directors and a graphic designer, was hidden deep within the special features and not even mentioned on the DVD cover. They talk about wanting to do something different then a “talking head documentary,” which is respectable, but I can’t say that they pulled it off (even though they apparently have no problem congratulating themselves).
Making of Refuse 2 Die: I don’t think a couple ten-second shots of silent, rough animation and a minute of some dude named K-Spawn freestyling counts as a “making of.” But that’s just me.
Animation Gallery (14:07): In case you didn’t get enough of it while watching the movie, relive the horror with fifteen minutes of random poorly animated footage. This “best of” is of course set to rap music, none of which is 50 Cent’s.
G-Unit Photoshoot (2:02): When they say “G-Unit Photoshoot,” they mean just 50 Cent, standing alone in one pose for two minutes. Whoever shot the video zooms in extremely close, slowly panning up his body. Just plain uncomfortable to watch.
Massive Swerve (5:34): Another animated segment extracted from the movie. This one is just a pointless five-minute walkthrough of a crowded club. I didn’t get it.
We also are provided with a Theatrical Trailer.
If you’re interested in watching REFUSE 2 DIE then you must be a big fan of 50 Cent, and therefore probably already know the story presented here. And aside from that, there’s really no other reason to watch this documentary. The presentation is just plain boring—sub par animation, no exciting footage of the rapper himself, and enough dead time to make you want to balance your checkbook. I still think a story about 50 Cent’s life would make for a great feature film though. Oh, wait…