The Absurdist Hip Hop Hellscape of ‘Leprechaun V: In The Hood’ (2000) – Retro Review

Can Leprechauns rap? The answer seems to be a resounding “No.” Still, you can hardly blame a Leprechaun for trying, especially one hanging out in the ‘hood. Also, this is no average Lep. This is an evil, violent Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) who’s always losing track of his gold and creating a path of destruction on his way to reclaim it. Why wouldn’t he try his ugly little hand at rapping? He is no stranger to rhymes, that’s for sure. In the first Leprechaun movie, he quipped, “This old Lep, he played one… He played pogo on his lung.” It’s basically a rhyme.

The unlucky bastard had already journeyed to Las Vegas and outer space. A trip to the ‘hood seemed like natural progression for our little green menace. He is, after all, multicultural.

In 2000’s Leprechaun in the ‘Hood, ol’ Lep crosses paths with rapper Ice-T. Sure, he’s not called Ice-T here, but let’s face it: A character named “Mack Daddy” played by Ice T is pretty much still Ice T. The man who once boasted, “Gangster rhyme, yo! I invented that shit!” now gets into some Leprechaun shit, and it ain’t too pretty. While unfolding this fascinating culture clash, the writers manage to stage some memorable politically incorrect moments, like when a black dude is killed with his own afro comb. Dang! Want to push thing further? Right after first being accidentally freed, the Leprechaun boasts, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last!” I’m not even kidding

In any case, it’s essentially street smarts against the luck of the Irish, as Mack Daddy steals the Leprechaun’s magical flute and utilizes its powers to build a musical empire. How did he thwart the Leprechaun? By sticking a cursed necklace on him, which turns him to stone.

As the story progresses, we meet three aspiring hip hop stars, Postmaster P. (Anthony Montgomery), Stray Bullet (Rashaan Nall) and the more simply named Butch (Red Gran). They start off modestly enough, trying to enter a rap contest in Las Vegas, hoping to send a positive message through their music. Unfortunately, everyone else wants them to look “gangsta,” including Mack Daddy. Mack irritates them so much that they soon abandon their morals and break into his property to steal some riches to fund their group. Predictably, they find the magic flute while accidentally re-freeing the Leprechaun. Honestly, people need to stop doing that!

Now that they’re on the run, Stray, Postmaster and Butch take refuge in a number of places, including a church, where they offer the worst, possibly most blasphemous gospel improv ever.

It truly is a scene to behold:
Postmaster P: [singing] Jesus loves me. This I know.
Stray Bullet: [singing] If he don’t, I’ll find a ho…
Postmaster P: His mama’s name was Mary Jo…
Stray Bullet: And his disciples was some bad mo-fo…

From left to right: Butch, Stray Bullet and Postmaster P.

These original, spontaneous rhymes offend the churchgoers, as one might expect. However, through some magical flute notes, the crowd is suddenly enthralled. But remember:  The flute is stolen and pursued by two evil, greedy forces — one representing earthly greed (Mack), the other being metaphysical evil (Lep). To the church crowd, the music only sounds good because they suddenly hear it as conventional — even if it’s a ruse and a distraction from what’s really going on. As dumb as the scene is, the underlying symbolism is shockingly layered, if you’re looking for it.

The story gets even stranger, more convoluted, as the Leprechaun summons zombie “flygirls” from the depths of the netherworld to do his bidding. Who or what exactly are these women to the Leprechaun? Why hasn’t he flexed such powers before? These are all good questions. They lack good answers. We’re just buckled in for this bumpy ride, left trying to make sense of what we see.

There are some surprisingly good things I can say about Leprechaun In The Hood. Ice T generally plays his part seriously, which creates a sense of authenticity. Also, the pacing lends it a unique, surreal and disjointed feel at times. It would probably be difficult to duplicate this feel, either by a novice or a skilled filmmaker. In fact, the Leprechaun interrupts the flow of what could be a normal gangster movie, almost transcending both comedy and horror.

Most will see Leprechaun in the ‘Hood as a nonsense movie. But, again, nonsense and absurdity have power, and power equals impact. That’s partly why these movies can have so many sequels. Absurdity is necessary. That’s why there’s a Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. It’s not just about the money. There’s a demand for these movies apart from that, as strange as it sounds.

Perhaps they are magically delicious, and we are possessed by their power and placed in the Leprechaun’s stable:

Finally, I must ask: Why doesn’t the Leprechaun use his most powerful magic more often? It’s as if he’s intentionally holding back, thrilled to see what will happen. Is the viewer as thrilled? In many cases no, but that is the Leprechaun’s ultimate trick — both its curse and its charm.

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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