(aka 'Night Watch' or 'The Night Watchman')
Gripping performances by Keanu Reeves, Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker* and an all-star supporting cast power this action-packed crime thriller, in which a veteran cop finds himself ensnared in a deadly web of conspiracy and betrayal. Reeves stars as Tom Ludlow, a hard-nosed detective with a talent for delivering brutal street justice. When evidence implicates him in the murder of a fellow officer, the violence around Ludlow explodes as he realizes his own life is in danger and he can trust no one.
James Ellroy, the self-described “demon dog” of American crime fiction, writes in a baroque, pulp prose style that hurtles along the page like a speed freak in a rocket, an image that I probably lifted from one of his books. In his fiction and nonfiction he rushes forward fast, fast, fast, pausing regularly to do a little scat singing (“a hypodermic full of hyper-hazy, health-hazarding” stuff, from a 1998 short story called “Hush-Hush”), or to blow a hole through the page. He’s a demon dog, all right, with a bite as sharp as his bark.
Theatrical Release: April 3rd, 2008
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.87 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUBs: French, Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
by director David Ayer
• Street Cred (4:3) - 4:00
• Five Vignettes (4:3) - 7:00
• Behind the Scenes (4:3) - 3:00
• Theatrical Trailer (1:46)
• "Inside Look" at Alexandre Aja's upcoming 'Mirrors' (1:24)
• Digital Copy
This is also coming to Blu-ray (same date) HERE but this SD looks very strong in its own right. There are many low lit scenes and they are well-supported by this standard-definition, dual-layered, anamorphic (2.35:1) transfer. Shadow detail and contrast are strong and sharpness has some impressive moments - colors are a bit weak but lack of brightness may be the culprit. Background noise is minimal and didn't impinge upon my viewing pleasure. Fox's Street Kings is progressive, seems free of manipulations and is expectantly clean - coming off overall as one of the tighter SD's I've seen this year.
The audio comes in a bountiful 5.1 track that has plenty of bullet pings and ricochets circling the room. Competent and fairly often used it stands to almost equal the quality of the image. There is a conventionally fitting crime-drama original score by Graeme Revell countering the action of the film very well. Two DUBs are offered in French or Spanish 2.0 channel.
Supplements-wise this DVD is a hefty joint. Firstly let's get the second disc - 'digital copy' - out of the way. It exists. (NOTE: watching this, or any, films via cell-phone or other tiny-screened device is not endorsed by this website - let's all put our heads on straight).
The meat of the extras start with the director commentary - Ayer is fairly intelligent and sedate - he discusses location and production details (dollys, the film 'look' etc) but not enough in-depth discussion of the guts of the film IMO - which I may have appreciated a bit more although he does touch upon the essence of Ellroy's script and themes a few times. It does have gaps where the film is simply left to briefly run. Overall, it is quite good and worth listening to I think but it's certainly not jam-packed with information and that can be a positive to enjoy a more relaxed oral presentation. There are a whopping 15 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Ayer again. These run about 11.5 minutes and are in letterboxed widescreen. I didn't find any of them enhanced or detracted from the eventual final cut. They may be played individually or all at once in sequential order. A bit more interesting were the anamorphic alternate takes running just short of 1/2 hour. The major featurette has a car ride in South L.A. with David Ayer and Jaime FitzSimons in 4:3 running about 15 minutes. We see street people, cops and get some comments from the two participants. A featurette that I wished was a bit longer was; La Bete Noir: Writing Street Kings. It runs less than 5 minutes and can only give an overview of the entitled topic. Three more very brief 4:3 pieces are Street Cred at round 4 minutes, five separate vignettes totaling about 7:00 and a Behind the Scenes at less than 3:00. Finally we have the theatrical trailer and an "Inside Look" at Alexandre Aja's upcoming horror film 'Mirrors' with Keifer Sutherland - but its only 1.5 minutes long.
Street Kings is certainly
flawed but many may still find it entertaining. Personally, I didn't
think it captured the deeper essence of Detective Tom Ludlow (Reeves)
and the narrative seemed very disjointed at times moving in multiple and
obtuse directions. 'Overblown' might be the apt word and more than one
Hollywood flic of this genre suffers from trying to be 'too much'. Then
again, it certainly might be considered a modern 'noir' with the
intense fits of violence and brutality differentiating it from its
older, more prophetic, cousins. To each his own. I can only tell you the
DVD is very strong and if you are keen to see this film, I doubt you'd
be expecting more from this SD-DVD although renting may be the best
option. A great job by Fox though on the DVD package!