Warrior Brother (1995)

A smooth-talking skirt-chaser. A beautiful woman. A jealous ex. Fractured lives. Extortion. Revenge.

You can find all of this in Don Giovanni, one of the many operas about a womanizing asshole. If you don’t know shit about opera, that’s totally cool, just know that Don Giovanni features an enchanted statue who summons demons to drag Don Giovanni to hell. But also know that this is literally the only cool thing that happens in the opera. Call me a philistine, but it’s an epic snoozefest.

Now, if Don Giovanni had freestyling nunchucks, out-of-shape cholos, disinterested strippers, and a guy named “Philthy” Phil Phillips, I’d be very interested. And if Don Giovanni had rap instead of arias and slow jams instead of overtures, I’d be very, very interested. My point is that you shouldn’t watch Don Giovanni. Fuck no, don’t do it. Watch Warrior Brother instead. All the pathos with none of the z’s. Plus, kung fu. Also, rap.

Ray (played by MC Kung Fu) is a slick playboy who chases ladies and never fails to seals the deal (I’m talking about sex-making here). He’s flanked by his two “homedogs,” a wise-cracking rapper named “Philthy” Phil Phillips, and Rick, a self-described “wigga” (white on the outside, black on the inside, stupid everywhere). The three gallivant around town, get into some mild kung-fu fights, and pick up some “fine-looking birds.” Their game is dubious at best—Ray attracts poon with his shiny Corvette, the wigga pretends to be a Hollywood agent, and “Philthy” Phil lures ladies with his “lyrical genius.” His flow is on par with an eighth grader with a Casio drum machine and a rhyming dictionary. Seriously, even my flow is stronger and that only comes every twenty-eight days (Holla back, ladies!).

Will these fellas ever settle down?

Tina is a distressed damsel in an abusive relationship. John smacks her around a bit and she ends up leaving him and heads straight to da club. There she meets Ray, and that’s when the slow jams begin in earnest. Ray woos her with the titillating power of rap (and his sweet ride). But Tina’s not having any of it.

“It’s gonna take more than a fat wallet to get into my whatchamacallit.”
“Why you dissin’ me, when you should be kissin’ me?”

She marvels at Ray’s flow.

“How do you come up with those lines so quick?”
“It’s a gift, like your beauty.”

Impressively, their entire exchange is done in rhyme. In fact, most of the movie unfolds in rap, over beats that are clearly canned, aka not fresh. At some point there’s a rap interlude that comes out of nowhere, complete with backup dancers.

John isn’t one to stand by while his woman runs off with some rapping, kung-fu fighting asshole. There’s deception! Intrigue! Purple bikini briefs (on a dude)! Workplace harassment! A frank discussion about abortion! And someone hits rock bottom, which means that someone sits on a doughy couch surrounded by greasy fast food wrappers and empty pizza boxes.

Warrior Brother is less of a film and more of an experience. It’s a sincere rap opera that examines the trials and tribulations of a relationship. It investigates what happens when people grow up and accept responsibilities, but make mistakes along the way. It meditates on the healing powers of love and the meaning of forgiveness and explores how it’s really easy to break out of a sanitarium. In its 98 minute runtime, the film goes from fun and upbeat to dark and emo. It brings up some heavy questions–like what happens when our carefree, youthful days are well behind us? What then do we have to live for? Shit gets surprisingly real. But before it gets too real, kung fu steps in to save the day. MC Kung Fu lives up to his moniker; he expertly fights off hooligans one by one with his flying fists of rapping fury. Ruffians seem to come out of nowhere, in various state of pudginess. In the end, the real loser is an ice cream cone.

It’s obvious “Philthy” Phil Phillips hoped Warrior Brother would launch his music career (it did not). But he did contribute a lot to the soundtrack, with songs like “Booty Quake,” “Doing This Hip-Hop Thang,” and “Life of a D.O.G.” (I have no idea what that stands for). But the runaway hit is “Scandaluss”:

“My name is Ray, I’m not too crazy. Kung fu, kung fu, is what I do, yes, next to chasing to girls with big chests.
My name is Rick, a cool scam artist, what’s that smell? Somebody farted!”

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