Review by Gary W. Tooze
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DUB: French 5.1, Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, English, French or Spanish
Extras: Commentary by writer/director Craig Brewer, Behind the Hustle, By Any Means Necessary, Creatin’ Crunk, Memphis Hometown Premiere, 6 promotional spots, Paula Jai Parker Audition, Ludacris and Terrence Howard rehearsal, Two Scene extensions, It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp acoustic version, two theatrical trailers
Released: June 26th, 2007
Getting sympathy for a pimp is a tricky task for a
movie, but not an impossible one; that the lead
character of ‘Hustle & Flow’ is violent,
misogynistic, exploitative and self-absorbed is less of
a problem than the film’s exaltation of those attributes
as the basis of an admirable personal transformation.
Hats off, then, to Terrence Howard’s central
performance: as Memphis hustler DJay, fending off a
midlife crisis by taking a shot at a hip hop career, he
creates a sense of palpable frustration, then
desperation for something better than writer-director
Craig Brewer’s script can offer.
Brewer gives a convincingly shabby feel to the impoverished Southern locale, from the cast’s uniform sheen of sweat to the egg-carton sound insulation of the home studio DJay sets up with an old friend (Anthony Anderson) and a skinny white church boy (DJ Qualls). The crunk tunes they produce there are pretty catchy too – hooks like ‘it’s hard out there for a pimp’, ‘whoop that trick’ and ‘stomp that ho’ notwithstanding.
I tried to give this transfer some breadth as I realize the grain appears as an intentional part of its gritty charm (shot on 16mm?) but frankly this DVD image is quite poor - probably of even less quality than the SD release. The 'grainy' look comes across in HD as being very dirty and while objects in the foreground are adequately HD-sharp - background information seems to adopt a unreal appearance. Unfortunately the film's image has not translated very well to HD at all - and it is probably the weakest HD-DVD image I have in my small 'new format' collection (include Spartacus HD in this infamous category). Colors are acceptable - better than SD - but no where near Brewer's other feature on HD 'Black Snake Moan'. I was only moderately distracted in my film viewing but as far as what I have seen so far from HD this would have to have considered a disappointment - even flawed.
* HD image derived from a digital camera - do not weigh too heavily - although it does represent, to some degree, how the image appeared on my Plasma system.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 (there is also a 5.1 French and Spanish DUB)
sounds better than the SD releases (to my ear). The
music portions were louder and bass and high range sounded exceptionally
Optional English SDH, regular English, Spanish or French subtitles support the audio.
Extras: are fairly extensive - also found on SD - a decent commentary by writer/director Craig Brewer; Behind the Hustle, By Any Means Necessary, Creatin’ Crunk, Memphis Hometown Premiere, 6 promotional spots. While new for the HD-DVD release are a Paula Jai Parker Audition (3 minutes), Ludacris and Terrence Howard rehearsal (2.5 minutes), Two Scene extensions (about 6 minutes worth), It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp (3:15) acoustic version and two theatrical trailers.
Bottom line: Despite the raves for the film - it fell short in my opinion. I thought performances were strong but there is a contrived aura over the entire production and the direction of the film began to be quite predictable. Tack onto that the poor HD image and it is not something we can recommend! Pass and get 'Black Snake Moan' instead.
An insert advertises other Paramount HD-DVDs.