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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

 

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Street Kings (Digital Copy Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

 

(David Ayer, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Fox Searchlight, Regency Enterprises & 3 Arts Entertainment

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 109 min

Chapters: 28

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: August 19, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 34 MBPS

 

Audio:

English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless; French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin & Korean

 

Extras:

• Disc 2: Digital Copy

• Audio commentary by Director David Ayer

• Picture-in-Picture: Under Surveillance: Inside the World of Street Kings (BonusView Enabled Players Only)

• Featurette: Street Rules: Rolling with David Ayer & Jaime FitzSimons (17:28)

• Featurette: L.A. Bete Noir: Writing Street Kings (4:49)

• Featurette: Street Cred (3:51)

• HBO First Look: City of Fallen Angels: Making Street Kings (12:01)

• Deleted Scenes w/ optional commentary by the director

• Alternate Takes

• Vignettes (7:51)

• Behind the Scenes Clips (3:59)

• Theatrical Trailer

 

 

The Film: 8.
Harry Callahan was no friend of the courts, but in his own way, he respected the law. He brought down bad guys in the act of committing crimes, permanently. So it really pissed him off to find vigilante cops in his own department that took matters into their own hands, dispatching bad guys who wouldn't stay in jail. Harry himself was an embarrassment to his bosses, while Sweet, Davis, Grimes and Astrachan had to work secretly, under the protection of the cynical Lt. Briggs. These cops were a magnum force of their own, until Harry was able to trace the magic bullet to them.

There's a similar bullet in Street Kings. Detective Tom Ludlow (Keannu Reeves) accidentally fires it into his fellow officer, Terrance Washington, lately a snitch to Internal Affairs. Ludlow and his Vice Special Unit operate like an entire squad of Harry Callahans by way of the Briggs and Sweet. As their boss, Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), observes to Ludlow, "You're the tip of a spear" - Wander's spear to clean up Los Angeles. Ludlow is willing to go where the law itself – and even other cops – fear to tread. He ensures perpetrators will not be released to the streets to commit more crimes against humanity. He puts down these guys without benefit of arrest, let alone a fair trial, making certain that the crime scene he has just created will pass muster. And, make no mistake, these are bad perps. That is never the question.

Which brings us to Washington, Internal Affairs, the bullet and the manipulation of evidence. I.A. Captain James Biggs – that's Biggs, not Briggs - (Hugh Laurie) and Captain Wander each have Ludlow's back – but to what end, that is the question!

Though it requires a certain amount of alcohol and vomitous preparations before going to work, Ludlow takes his job very seriously – and personally. Once he has it in his head that his old friend, Washington, is fingering him to Internal Affairs, he can't simply let his boss take care of things as he always has in the past. Against Wander's strongly worded order, Ludlow seeks out Washington at a 7-11 just as a couple of gangbangers show up, ready to shoot up everything and everybody in sight.

 


 

Image: 9/9.5
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVDs, including SD 480i.

Fox has given us one seriously good image here: rich with blood-red color, deep blacks, sharp when appropriate, as when the camera lingers on the results of carnage, and no apparent artifacts. Good mix of film and digital sources. Couldn't ask for better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 9/7
As noted, there's a considerable amount of ordinance at play in this film. The uncompressed audio mix does a terrific job of placing us in the thick of it, with both musical and effects deep into the surrounds, making us want to duck for cover, or else. While there's no denying the benefits of DTS HD, I felt the dialogue to be a bit thick, which was less than helpful as I tried to make sense out of the quantities of street lingo that permeated the script, and for which I sometimes felt the need of translating subtitles. All the same, I have found audio no better – and often much worse in this respect – in the theatre, where fat sound envelopes, but does not clarify. So, I'm guessing that I'm actually hearing things more clearly at home than I would have at the Cineplex.

 

 

 

Operations: 6
This Fox Blu-ray disc begins with a promo telling us about the Digital Copy extra disc, followed by three previews in HD for Deception, The Happening and Prison Break Season 3. The menu is filled to bursting with extra feature titles, but no time info for each segment. One downer: you must skip through chapters if you want to return to the main menu. No Top Menu function available here.

 

Extras: 8
Let's get the big stuff out of the way: This Blu-ray edition sports a second DVD called a "Digital Copy" – I imagine we'll be seeing more of these in future releases. The idea being that, with a little bit of footwork, but no added cost, you can load the movie onto your computer or laptop for viewing in that medium, something most of us can't do with a blu-ray disc just yet. I'm sure it's just a sign of my own incompetence, but I was unable to access the Digital Copy in my Mac iTunes. Next up is a bonus feature that is only available on BonusView Enabled Players: "Picture-in-Picture: Under Surveillance: Inside the World of Street Kings."

After these come a host of more or less routine, but occasionally valuable extras. First up is David Ayer's running commentary where the director provides a sober critique of his own film from a number of perspectives: plot, characters, actors, locations, production, photography, music & effects. Then we have a number of featurettes of varying lengths from just under 4 to over 17 minutes. In "Street Rules," Director Ayer & Police Advisor Jaime FitzSimons cruise through L.A. locations in David's mom's minivan talking about how they recreated authenticity. Authenticity is the name of the game here as we learn repeatedly in most of the remaining segments. "Street Cred" picks up on L.A.'s local color as neighborhood celebs become a part of the movie's acting stable and lend the film smarts and credibility. HBO's "City of Fallen Angels" checks out character & motivation in more detail, whereas the Vignettes and Behind the Scenes Clips get more into specific scenes and the technologies involved. Amusing is the clip where actors learn how to act like cops.

I guess it would have been too much to ask for HD bonus features – but what there is certainly covers the range of what we want.

 

 

Bottom line: 9
Street Kings, is based on a story and screenplay by James Ellroy, the man that gave us another Los Angeles thriller about questionable cops: L.A. Confidential. The new movie, with a title reminiscent of "Prince of the City," is as bloody - bloodier - probably than just about any police drama in memory, outside of Hong Kong. Ellroy knows his stuff: he knows L.A. and he knows how to script and pace a movie. Situations evolve and resolve in unexpected ways, but we never have the feeling that we're being jerked around. All this packed in a very satisfying Blu-ray disc. It's what the medium lives for.

Leonard Norwitz
August 14th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 





 

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