Out of all the films I have watched and reviewed, no other domestic release has been more influenced by Asian culture than Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan. The story of the Wu-Tang Clan, the extended rap dynasty out of Staten Island, New York that dominated the hip-hop landscape for the better part of the nineties, are heavily inspired by old kung fu movies and Asian culture. Having personally seen GZA in concert and owning all of Ghostface’s albums, saying I was hyped about this release was an understatement. Moreover, the RZA, joined by rappers Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, the GZA, Raekwon the Chef, Masta Killa, Ghostface Killah, U-God, and Inspectah Deck were not only famous as a group but would also emerge as individual stars in their own right. This film tells the true story about the behind the scenes and you get to see a realer side of their personalities.
Sadly, I think there is some great information to be had but it is directed poorly and handled with little care. Most of the interviews were full of random information and were hard to understand. The primary reason to see Wu is for some rare footage of the group before and during their initial burst of success. If you are a Wu Tang fan then I can see you enjoying this but as a stand alone film I would generally pass by not paying much attention. The few bright spots were some fun moments with ODB and the other members, particularly where ODB freestlyes while drunk (see attached video). For the most part though, we don’t really get a chance to get a sense of the individual group members.
Along the way, much of the Wu story is left out. Solo successes are barely touched upon, which I would have loved to see more of this topic expanded upon. There is no mention of the Wu’s ascension to the mainstream, their clothing lines and savvy business ventures. Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan is guilty of not telling the story it set out to do. A lot of the footage was cool seeing past concerts but the bulk of the film is unimportant. For me, once the documentary ended I was ready for more, as there is still far more details and such that this could have gone into if the creators really wanted to try and pull it off. Someone should do a more comprehensive documentary that does justice to the greatness that the Wu-Tang Clan once was and still is today. The Wu-Tang phenomenon was largely ignored by the mainstream and may never get the credit it deserves, which may be one of the reasons for all the looking back.
The second act does a better job at focusing on how the band dealt with fame and fortune. All in all, I found it an interesting, but not gripping, documentary. As a fan of the Wu Tang I am a greatly biased reviewer so you must take that into account. Not to shoot myself in the foot too many times in this review, but this movie also feels short. While it covers a lot of ground, it is more of a sprint to the finish line. The way I view documentaries is they are a way to educate people on whatever the subject matter is and ultimately I think if you don’t know much about Wu Tang before watching this, you won’t gain much knowledge about the subject afterwards. In my book this is abig fail, and it breaks my heart to give this a low grade. Hopefully we get the footage that Wu deserves as well as the late ODB. That, at least, would be one saving grace of this otherwise unremarkable DVD documentary.