See the new fate of Tupac Shakur’s character from the 25th anniversary release.
Prior to Netflix committing a minor atrocity in the deletion of a masterpiece, it’s safe to say Juice was always that go-to movie for me when there was nothing left to stream. Everything about the 1992 street flick was fresh, from the intense, back-and-forth DJ battle to the eerily relatable banter spoken among the four friends.
Juice stands as a landmark in the kickstart to both Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps’s acting careers, besides being a goldmine for memorable quotes. When Tupac’s character, Bishop, becomes power-hungry and lustful for blood, viewers are left feeling conflicted about how the overall end should play out — no one necessarily wants to see Bishop die, we just all equally agree he probably has to.
In the original version, known and beloved by us all, Bishop accidentally falls over a roof as Que (Epps) unsuccessfully tries to pull him up:
“Que, don’t let me go!” Bishop begs as he clings to his friend’s fingers in the last few seconds of the film. As Que tells Bishop to hold on in attempt to haul him back over the edge, it’s evident the task is too much of a challenge and Bishop drops, heard as he hits the ground far below. Que leaves the scene as the classic line “You’ve got the juice now” is uttered by a bystander, and the film concludes with a joyful, older clip of the four friends laughing.
To this end, the viewer feels things were as good as they were ever going to get: Raheem is dead, Steele is in the hospital, Bishop loses control, and Que walks away the “hero.” By the end of Juice, it’s almost forgotten what Bishop was like prior to the robbery that resulted in Raheem’s death. Surely, Bishop was never a perfect associate. He was often aggressive and selfish in his actions towards his friends, but once the gun lands in his hands, he becomes a whole new person.
At the beginning of the film, Bishop is depicted as a character with a bad temper tolerating an unfortunate living situation. Although his grandmother, whom he lives with, seems loving and kind, his father, whom he also lives with, is disconnected and suffering from PTSD due to his being raped numerous times in prison. The backstory of Bishop’s father is never spoken by the man, himself, being that he doesn’t speak at all. Instead, it’s relayed by a neighborhood peer teasing Bishop in an argument.
Throughout the film, the mindsets and interests of all the boys are revealed, but most disturbing is Bishop’s outlook on life. Tupac does an excellent job of portraying an angry, misunderstood youth, adamant of gaining respect in several passionate scenes involving Raheem, Steele, Que, and himself.
“You gotta get the ground beneath your feet partner, get the wind behind your back and go out in a blaze if you got to!”Bishop insists while arguing with Que in the beginning. “Otherwise, you ain’t shit! You might as well be dead your damn self!”
The elevation of importance in respect is so relevant to Bishop because of the crimes perpetrated upon his father while in jail. In essence, Bishop watches his sole male figure have his dignity snatched from him so severely he is no longer able to reconnect. The fact that his father was unable to protect himself from certain circumstances heightens Bishop’s need for control, causing his overall downfall.
Bishop’s character is so complex, it almost feels wrong that his death is so simplistic and quick. For years, one could only imagine what a different, more dramatic, death could’ve done to progress the story. Now, an unexpected answer has appeared, not in a cheap remake but instead in the revelation of an alternate ending featured in the new 25th anniversary home video release of the film.
In this alternate ending, all events prior to Bishop falling over the edge are the same, but now instead of him accidentally dropping to his death, he purposely decides to let go after hearing approaching police sirens.
“I’m not going to jail,” Bishop says as he slowly stops struggling. The fear that he feels after hearing the police can be greatly associated with the trauma he’s seen his father endure. And being the rebellious, strong character he is, it would be hard to imagine him choosing any other decision.
“If you gotta go out, that’s how you go out. That motherfucker took his destiny into his own hands,” Bishop even gushed in the beginning of Juice after watching James Cagney’s suicide in White Heat.
Bishop’s suicide, although sad, seems much more fitting for who he’s portrayed to be. So it’s a relief to see the alternate ending reveal the character to come full circle. Bishop was and stayed a rebel, and in all instances stayed true to his beliefs. Watch it, via XXL:
The revelation, although very much appreciated anyway, comes at an interesting time considering the Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me hits theaters this week. Between the two, hip-hop fans have countless ways to celebrate the late Tupac’s birthday on June 16th, which just so happens to be the release date for the new movie.
In addition to the alternate ending, the new DVD/Blu-ray release of Juice also contains commentary from co-writer and director Ernest R. Dickerson and interviews from producer David Heyman and a few of the actors (Epps, Khalil Kain, and Jermaine Hopkins). Get your copy now.