Cuba Gooding Jr.
Laurence Fishburne excelled in the role he has gone on to specialize in, that of a strong-minded mentor with a firm moral sense able to act as the ideological anchor of a film. He was ably seconded by then-unknown Gooding Jr. who served up a tremendous performance through which his character grew up on screen through an entire range of experiences and emotions only to reveal himself still a child struggling with events unfolding around him. The character that one couldn't turn away though was that of Doughboy played by rapper Ice Cube, one of the few rappers who has proved himself a talented actor able to play a decent variety of roles. His fascinating self-destructive behavior in this film became a story unto itself, demonstrating the hopelessness of a character whose violent lifestyle is the only one he's ever known and the one that eventually leads to his fate. Chestnut is also quite compelling as Tre's best friend and Doughboy's brother Ricky, whose dreams of a better life clash in a sobering way with the lack of ambitions of those around him.
Overall, this is a powerful film which one can hardly turn away from once it begins. Singleton's look into the base existences of the residents of these impoverished neighborhoods is a head turning experience which can either make you fully empathize with them or despise them in the same vein. It deserves to be watched though, if only to be more grateful of our own cozier surroundings.
Disc 1 contains the film and a full-length audio commentary with writer/director John Singleton. Singleton does a darn good job of getting into great detail regarding the "making of" what was really the realization of his dream. Relating many of the film's sequences to those of his own life, he fleshes out those experiences with discussions on the casting, filming and other topics related to the filmmaking aspect. His commentary is offered at a good pace and never gets boring.
On Disc 2, the one big feature is a 45-minute long documentary entitled "Friendly Fire: Making of an Urban Legend". Concentrating heavily on the studio pitch, this documentary features filmmakers, crew members and stars discussing the movie and the way it changed their own lives. It follows everything from the time John Singleton himself was sent to live with his father to the time he entered film school and began to work on the project to the Cannes premiere and the wild shootouts that followed as gang members filed into theaters to see what the buzz was all about.
The rest is made up of only two deleted scenes totaling about 4 minutes worth of footage and a pair of music videos: "Growin' up in the Hood" by Compton's Most Wanted and "Just Ask Me" by one Tevin Campbell. Then you have a cheesy set of cast and crew filmographies and some trailers to this and a handful of other films. Special Anniversary Edition? Say what?