Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac
Nick Broomfield’s follow up to his feature-length documentary Biggie & Tupac (2002) is a solid postscript to the two rappers’ tragic murders, with the benefit of some added retrospection during the intervening years.
Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were the central characters involved in a media hyped feud between East and West coast gangsta rap. Bloomfield suggested in his first film that Suge Knight, head of Death Row Records, who ran the business with the iron fist of a racketeer, was the one who conspired to have both rappers killed.
Last Man Standing offers renewed interest in the story. The interviewees seem more willing to open up about events. Family, friends, colleagues and ex-police officers all have strong opinions which seem more candid now, without the imperious threat of Knight and his far reaching power, even after he was jailed.
The emotion is palpable. Seeing big tough gang affiliated bodyguards break down in tears, you know the suffering and loss is still deeply felt to this day. To his credit Bloomfield sensitively allows his subjects time in which to tell their stories at their own pace, only interjecting when necessary to pursue a thought or expand on an idea.
There are further revealing moments which show the rapport and lasting trust built since the initial interviews back in 2002. It makes this latest instalment all the more genuine and honest. These people confide in and vouch for him, appreciating his personal investment and seeing he’s not out simply to do a hatchet job.
As in the 2002 film, there is a strong focus on the alleged involvement behind the murders from the L. A. Police Department, both their affiliation with and facilitation of violent street gang culture. It says just as much about American society and its relationship with law enforcement, predominantly in black inner-city areas.
Former LAPD officer David Mack’s trainer, Leila Steinberg, summed it up best explaining: “The streets are controlled by the biggest gang that we have, and that’s the police.” Mack was implicated in police corruption and conspiracy to murder, and later jailed in federal prison.
Last Man Standing is a bleak but engaging continuation of Bloomfield’s journey through the personal and social intricacies behind one of the largest hyped and deadly feuds in the music business, even if it does use a large amount of previously used footage. On the plus side you don’t have to have seen the first one, this works successfully as a standalone film.
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