Chi-Raq hits theaters and Amazon Video today, and what can I say? That boy Spike don’t play, or maybe he made a play…I don’t know, the whole movie is in rhyme. Seriously, he even got Angela Bassett to spit in time.
The movie opens up with Young Chop, Nick Cannon, and Vic Mensa putting on a show – dope. Yet before you know it, the concerts ends with someone getting smoked. This was a pleasant comeback for the legend Spike… But I’ll quote a Chicago legend and say this movie is the shit I don’t like.
You can find joy in the way Teyonah Parris moves and twerks as she withholds sex to stop the violence – and it kinda works. Chi-Raq has a lot of bright spots, let me say to provide clarity. I just couldn’t tell if this movie was serious or a parody. As I looked at the screen and saw a gym full of horny women break out in twerks, I realized Spike Lee may have addressed the violence in Chicago, but I’d rather think about his other bodies of work.
So I insist you should go see, it yourself before you Spike Lee loyalists start to boo me.
In the meantime, enjoy this list of Spike’s 10 Best Movies.
10. Jungle Fever
Before it was really accepted or cool to date outside of your race, Spike Lee tackled the battle of the sexes and interracial dating in one film. In 1991 when the movie came out, Roger Ebert wrote Jungle Fever, “contains humor and insight and canny psychology, strong performances, and the fearless discussion of things both races would rather not face.” It’s the ability to evoke those kinds of feelings that make Spike Lee great.
9. School Daze
The “Wannabes” and the “Jigaboos” are etched in cinematic history because of this one. I’m not a fan of remakes, but there need to be more movies like this one.
8. She’s Gotta Have It
Nola Darling helped women find themselves. It’s your auntie’s favorite movie, and cannot be denied; it’s one of Spike’s best works.
7. He Got Game
Rosario Dawson, Denzel Washington, and Ray Allen put together a story that’s engaging, entertaining, and gripping. You even end up learning something at the end. These birds ain’t loyal.
6. 25th Hour
Ed Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman make this one great. While Spike didn’t write it, he handled director duties like a champion. One writer called it, “Lee’s best, most cohesive and most passionate film since Do the Right Thing.” Now that’s big.
5. Inside Man
Spike and Denzel Washington are kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio and Scorsese. When they get together, it’s magic. Inside Man is a thrilling ride.
A lot of critics hated this movie, but fans loved it. The New York Times even said Crooklyn should be its own TV show, and that it displays “real warmth of heart.” It’s a cult classic and one of Spike’s best films, perfectly capturing why Brooklyn is such a special place.
3. The Original Kings Of Comedy
This movie single-handedly brought stand-up comedy films back, making it possible for Kevin Hart to drop. Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and the late Bernie Mac did their thing, and Spike Lee captured it like no other. While it’s technically not a theatrical movie, we’re adding it anyway because it’s just that damn good.
2. Do The Right Thing
This film is still relevant and holds up to this day as a great piece of work. It introduced us to Rosie Perez, Samuel L. Jackson, and Martin Lawrence for goodness’ sake. DTRT proved no one tackles race like Spike.
1. Malcolm X
Denzel Washington should have won an Oscar for this, but you know how politics work. Spike Lee brought Malcolm X back to life in 1992 and had everybody wearing X hats in the process. The movie made the best film critic ever call Mr. Lee one of the best directors ever, writing, “Spike Lee is not only one of the best filmmakers in America, but one of the most crucially important, because his films address the central subject of race.” Now that’s what we’re talking about.