DVD Review: Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan
A young RZA is interviewed in the recently released DVD, Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan
If $75 is too rich for your blood to see the Wu-Tang Clan tonight at the House of Blues, and most likely it is, consider the recently relesed Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan DVD as a much cheaper alternative to getting your fix of the 36 Chambers.
Written, directed and produced by Gerald “Gee-Bee” Barclay, a long time friend of several of members of the Clan, Wu chronicles the group’s rise from the projects of the forgotten borough of Staten Island to multi-platinum hip-hop icons. Barclay’s relationships with the Wu-Tang Clan allowed him access that few others filmmakers have had.
A great example of Barclay’s access is found in the film’s beginning, featuring footage of the Clan hanging out in a grimey studio putting the finishing touches on what would become a classic album, Enter the 36 Chambers. It is here where you see Clan founder, RZA sitting behind a desk planning out something while answering questions and makes bold predictions in RZA-speak (lots of uses of the words “wisdom” and “swords,” etc.), while Method Man, the Clan’s most charismatic member, plays to the camera. Interestingly, had the interview occurred in the present (15 years later) it would probably look exactly the same, except the studio would be much cleaner.
For hardcore Wu fans, there is little information presented in the documentary that you would not have already known, but it is moments like this early studio footage that make the DVD worth the 78 minutes of your life.
Within this scene, you’ll find genuine jubilation from Clan members who are surprised and elated to hear the good news from Method Man, who announces that he was just signed to major label Def Jam. In a genre of music where braggadocio and swagger are at the foundation, it is refreshing to see this moment of real emotion.
While the film was able to capture rare moments like this, it leaves out a great deal of elements essential to the story of the Wu-Tang Clan. The most notable exclusion from the film is the very successful solo debut albums of Method Man, Raekwon, ODB and The Genius (GZA) that came between 36 Chambers and the Clan’s follow-up Wu-Tang Forever. This time frame, between 36 Chambers and Forever, was the absolute height of Wu-Tang popularity and it was merely brushed over with a sentence from the narrator and images of the album covers.
Much of the later portions of the film are dedicated to the death of Ol’ Dirty who died in 2004. Clan members, family, journalists, DJs, and ODB’s wife are among those who are interviewed to share their thoughts and memories. For those who miss the antics of the clown of the Clan, you’ll enjoy an interview with Dirty in Hawaii. When asked what he liked about the 50th State, ODB, states “The lava makes my dick hard.”
With the collection of rarely seen footage like the actual studio session where the classic single, C.R.E.A.M. was created, this DVD just might ignite a similar reaction to the die-hard Wu fans.