Wednesday, May 27, 1998

I Got the Hookup

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Percy Miller, the man popularly known to the world as Master P, is something of a bona fide genius. Moving out of New Orleans to California in his early 20s, Miller opened his own record store -- the company's name, No Limit Records, would become prophetic. P the rap entrepreneur eventually turned filmmaker with the release of two bold narrative works, the direct-to-video short I'm Bout It, and now his feature film debut, I Got the Hook Up.

Similar to Bout It, I Got the Hook Up offers Master P's finest in thematic spleen-venting by way of "ghetto" subject matter. The story of two self-made businessmen, Black (Master P) and Blue (A.J. Johnson), follows the duo as they stumble onto a decent hustle via a misplaced truckload of cellular phones. With P as screenwriter, the comedy in this urban caper is uniformly "black," in the cultural sense, from start to finish: frequently off-color and often manic, with the pace at least a couple steps quicker than that of the mainstream.

P's talents shine through in Hook Up. While his rapping mostly consists of scattershot deliveries and the constant use of the moan "ugghh," P's knack for dropping catchy phrases over rhythm tracks ("How ya do that dere" has got to be Louisianan patois) is remarkable, to say the least. His comic sensibility is also very smart, with a firm root in a sense of the absurd. Once the flick moves beyond Blue and Black's vulgar wisecracking, it gets and stays very funny. Even better, P pens a decent storyline, and the film's movement, due to Michael Martin's direction and use of wild camera angles, is uniformly spirited.

Coming off the wild success of the neo-blaxploitation work I'm Bout It, it's intriguing to see Master P and his No Limit protégés striking it on with a feature that serves its purpose well and, for the most part, looks very good. A couple of out-of-focus shots aside, for the well-versed viewer, Hook Up is a strong follow-up that won't leave 'em saying "Ugghh!"

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