Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

Get Rich Or Die Tryin' (2005)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joy Bryant, Omar Benson Miller, Terrence Howard, Bill Duke
Extras: Documentary, Theatrical Trailer, Previews

"Get Rich or Die Tryin'" is the "loosely based" story of Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (known to fans as "Fiddy Cent", the thug pronunciation for 50 Cent). Borrowing heavy amounts of various elements and events from Jackson's own life, rather than a finely detailed transcription makes for a rather surprisingly well made film. Set on the streets of New York, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" takes director Jim Sheridan away from his usual element of Ireland set films like; My Left Foot and The Boxer as he coaches Jackson through his feature film debut.

I thought for a moment that "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" would be another presentation in the style of Eminem's "8 Mile" or the more recent "Hustle & Flow". Two well made and reasonably successful films that also tell the stories of struggle and triumph with a rap and or hip-hop theme behind them. While not reaching the critical success of those two films, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" turns out to be quite the compelling story in the end. The only thing that would have further benefited "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" would have been to make it a full autobiographical telling of the rappers life. Had the story gone into more details capturing 50 Cent's entire level of life experiences before such an early age, in my opinion, would have given the film that much more depth.

Growing up in a tough part of New York City, Marcus (Curtis Jackson) is forced at a young age to fend for himself, after the tragic loss of his mother in "Get Rich or Die Tryin'". Always providing for Marcus, his mother chose a dangerous path to meet those needs, by working as a drug dealer on the streets of New York. Moving in with family after the tragedy, Marcus eventually chooses to follow in the criminal footsteps of his mother by becoming a drug dealer himself. Seizing an opportunity from local drug lord Levar (Bill Duke), Marcus immediately proves that he can be a success and reap the short term financial gains of selling drugs.

Aspiring to express himself as a rap artist, Marcus has the hard decision of choosing between the urge to go legit and pursue a career in music or remain within the criminal element that offers him the riches he so desires. Eventually winding up in prison, Marcus survives an attempt on his life, thanks to the help of fellow inmate Bama (Terrence Howard). Is there any movie that doesn't star the tremendous acting talents of Terrence Howard these days? Seen in such films as "Crash", "Four Brothers" and "Hustle & Flow", the actor has easily become part of the "A-List" celebrity elite within Hollywood.

Striking a mutual friendship, both Marcus and Bama share similar interests and later reunite after their separate releases from prison. Acting as his manager, Bama works to nurture Marcus as he forms music fuelled with lyrics that are inspired by his rough past. Deciding to leave his criminal life behind him once and for all does not sit well with his former business associates, leading to another violent attempt on his life.

Even though there are some that may personally harbor distaste for 50 Cent and his music, I think you will find it hard not to admire his determination and strong will to succeed in life, especially given the odds that were stacked against him at such an early age.

Paramount Home Entertainment unleashes "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" on DVD with a superb transfer for the film. For a studio known for providing terrific presentations of their films on DVD, I would not expect anything less. Black levels are rich and well defined. Color saturation accommodates the metallic and darker tones of the films palette quite nicely. The overall transfer is clean and crisp without a hint of visible video compression or annoying dust or dirt particles.

The featured Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is appropriately balanced to meet the needs of the rap inspired soundtrack, offering smooth rich bass that will place the spotlight on your lower frequency channel, without overpowering the sonic presentation. Vocals come reproduced to appear natural throughout, pairing nicely with the overall visual exhibition.

Unfortunately, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" arrives a little light on the special features with this DVD release. Though we do get a well presented documentary titled "A Portrait of an Artist: The Making of Get Rich or Die Tryin'". Taking on a rather non-traditional form, this documentary offers a fresh approach that is void of the typical "Entertainment Tonight" style interviews set against clips from the film. Instead, the documentary follows director Jim Sheridan and rapper Curtis Jackson through Ireland and New York. Giving viewers behind-the-scenes access to interviews during actual production and offering some highlighted concert footage from one of 50 Cent's performances in Ireland.

There is also the inclusion of the films theatrical trailer and a selection of various previews that complete the special features section.

Although it would have been nice to see more added value materials, the solid transfer coupled with a well presented documentary makes up a decent release for fans of the genre as well as anyone in search of a respectable storytelling. You don't have to be a die hard rap enthusiast or fan of 50 Cent to enjoy and possibly even admire "Get Rich or Die Tryin'". This film might just surprise you as it did me.