Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac

 

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Nick Broomfield provides a fresh look at the facts behind the murder of the rappers Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac.

 
Last Man Standing Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac

  

Having made a film about the serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 1992, Nick Broomfield gave us a second feature about her in 2003. Given that this new work by Broomfield marks a return to the subject of his 2002 documentary Biggie and Tupac, one expects to find a clear parallel here, but that is not really the case. When Broomfield made Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer he was approaching her story once more but from an entirely fresh angle and even rethinking his own view of her. In contrast to that, Last Man Standing is more like a re-run. The earlier film had supported the beliefs of a former police officer, the now deceased Russell Poole, who was convinced that the police department in Los Angeles had been involved in a cover-up, one that had enabled the powerful music mogul Suge Knight to avoid being charged with responsibility for the murders of the rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. At that time many people were afraid to speak out and the new film stems from the fact that with Suge Knight now being in jail fresh testimonies could be obtained.

 

The additional evidence uncovered is valuable in making the case against Knight stronger and it also confirms yet another instance of police corruption played down and denied. Nevertheless, that is very different from finding a new viewpoint and, even if Biggie and Tupac hit dead ends and lacked full proof, as a documentary detailing investigative journalism it was absolutely compelling. Compare it with this fresh piece and you have here a narrative less precisely focused and one in which much of the ground covered before is being rehashed. Admittedly, one thing that does now emerge strongly in the personal aspects of the story is the corrupting impact of power: it transformed Knight who had been a sympathetic figure in his youth and it totally altered the outlook of Tupac Shakur once he had thrown in his lot with Knight’s Death Row Records.

 

Broomfield is too adroit and experienced a director to have made a dud film and anyone with a deep interest in the deaths of Biggie and Tupac and in the rivalry between the L.A. gangs known as the Bloods and the Crips in which they were caught up will welcome the extra details that emerge here. Nevertheless, for the general viewer Biggie and Tupac is undoubtedly the more rewarding work. Not least in the field of documentaries, it is always possible to find two treatments of the same subject resulting in one overpowering the other (Broomfield himself had a rival when filming his take on Whitney Houston, but his movie appeared ahead of the one by Kevin Macdonald). What is extraordinary is what has happened here: the appearance of a documentary overshadowed by a similar piece made by the same filmmaker. That is not to say that Last Man Standing is a poor film, but if Biggie and Tupac is not the last word on the subject it is the best word.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring  Lipp Dogg, Mob James, Leila Steinberg, Danny Boy, Pam Brooks, Simone Green, C-Style, Desiree Smith, Alison Samuels, Tracy Robinson, Doug Young, Phil Carson, Frank Alexander, Joe Cool.

 

Dir Nick Broomfield, Pro Pam Brooks, Nick Broomfield, Kyle Gibbon, Shani Hinton and Marc Hoeferlin, Ph Barney Broomfield, Tristan Copeland and Sam Mitchell, Ed Jan Lefrancois-Gijzen, Music Nick Laird-Clowes.

 

BFI/BBC Films-Dogwoof.
105 mins. UK. 2021. Rel: 2 July 2021. Cert. 18.