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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Vigilante [Blu-ray]

 

(William Lustig, 1983)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Magnum Motion Pictures Inc.

Video: Blue Underground

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:29:27.362

Disc Size: 29,087,504,901 bytes

Feature Size: 26,721,312,768 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 21st, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2241 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 2241 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital EX Audio English 640 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio German 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni
Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Frank Pesce
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Radio Spot
Promotional Reel
Still Gallery
Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The Savage Urban Action Thriller From The Director Of MANIAC!

New York City factory worker Eddie Marino (Robert Forster, Oscar(r) nominee for JACKIE BROWN) is a solid citizen and regular guy, until the day a sadistic street gang brutally assaults his wife and murders his child. But when a corrupt judge sets the thugs free, Eddie goes berserk and vows revenge. Now there's a new breed of marauder loose on the city streets, enforcing his own kind of law. His justice is swift. His methods are violent. He is the VIGILANTE.

Fred Williamson (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN), Woody Strode (SPARTACUS), Joe Spinell (MANIAC) and Salsa legend Willie Colon co-star in this hard-hitting exploitation classic from director William Lustig (MANIAC COP, RELENTLESS) that many critics consider to be better - and more shocking - than the original DEATH WISH. Blue Underground is now proud to present VIGILANTE in a pristine new 2K High Definition transfer from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative!

 

 

The Film:

A knockoff of Michael Winner's 1974 box-office smash Death Wish (which showcased Charles Bronson in his career-defining role as vengeful architect Paul Kersey), Vigilante is a crude, obvious piece of exploitation that's about as subtle as a wet-T-shirt contest yet just as acceptable. With the villains portrayed as one-dimensional cretins and the heroes as do-gooder knights, the film isn't exactly teeming with emotional and social complexities; it merely fastens upon basic human responses and beliefs to serve as a clinched fist of celluloid that holds in contempt an American justice system perceived as favoring the rights of the accused over the victim's. No matter how many times we've seen variations of this, the topic remains irresistible enough because it's both an ever-timely one and one that's easily identifiable -- you don't have to have been a victim nor related to one to be outraged by violent crime. The vigilantes here target not only the street-crime element (like a rooftop rapist and drug peddler -- both of whom are assaulted but not killed) but a bigwig crime kingpin (a sleazy Peter Savage) who's currently under a RICO investigation and avers he's simply a legitimate businessman guilty of being successful. And depicted as no better than the street scum is the defendant-leaning judge (Vincent Beck, who, being the ranking member of the SAG at the time, ironically contributes the film's worst performance) and a seedy defense attorney (a wonderfully seedy Joe Spinell, who played the title role in Lustig's Maniac) who takes his retainers in cash and holds client conferences in public rest rooms. Lustig and screenwriter Richard Vetere swing a wide net and, more often than not, manage to succeed; and even if more complexly related issues (like, say, the overburdening of court dockets and overpopulated prisons) aren't sufficiently delved into, the filmmakers manage to catch the tail end of them enough to briefly resonate. While these broad strokes invalidate the film as something of contextual merit, it nonetheless keeps it from being weighted down with high-minded solipsism -- it's given lots of artistic leeway due to its willingness not to aspire to much.

Vigilante is fast-paced and particularly well-framed in 2.35:1 widescreen by a director who demonstrated a knack for atmospheric, claustrophobic 1.85:1 compositions in Maniac (his previous feature). While the action is opened up considerably more this time around, Lustig still manages to make his protagonist feel overwhelmed by his surroundings, whether it's Eddie seeming dwarfed by the long and wide urban landscapes, his maneuvering around a crowded city-court building, his brief stint within the confines of a maximum-security prison, he always seems at odds with his environment, as if its gritty textures were threatening to suck the life right out of him.

Excerpt from Jack Sommersby at Ecritic.com located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

Vigilante on Blu-ray is described as '2K High Definition transfer from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative'. I have no suspicions that it looked dramatically different from this in its most pristine theatrical viewing.  Blue Underground are competent at this. There was some pretty well film stock used in the early 80's and this looks about as good as it possibly can. This is dual-layered with a high video bitrate and the image is thick and heavy. Flesh tones seem natural and colors are bright/vibrant. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt much more could be done. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film Vigilante and it advances beyond the last Blue Underground DVD edition in several key areas - notably detail and colors.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

I had a small issue with the DTS-HD Master 7.1 at 2241 kbps in that the music and effects were so loud that it drowned out the dialogue. I tried with the subtitles on but the variance was so dominant that I ended up switching to the 5.1 audio option which had similar discrepancies with the balance. I double checked my center channel on another couple of discs but it seemed okay. So, I am saying that this mix exported some excessive aggression that some may appreciate more than I did. I'd have preferred a simple stereo but they were only available in foreign language DUBs (3 of them - French, German and Italian). There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

Stack'em up! Not one, but two commentary track with the first having co-producer/director William Lustig and co-producer Andrew W. Garroni focusing on more technical details while #2 is laid back by comparison and has Lustig again and stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Frank Pesce enjoying each other's camaraderie. Beyond that are a slew of Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spot, an Italian promotional reel (in atrocious condition), a still gallery and the Blu-ray is enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is the type of film a young Tarantino would be enjoying on a late Friday night almost 30-years ago.

 

If I ever do a stint in the 'Big House' (not totally out of the question, I suppose) - I can only hope that a grizzled, leather-skinned Woody Strode type is watching my back. The vigilante film has strong appeal - we are exposed these days to so much criminal-activity news and individual human violence tends to make for sellable, human-interest, copy. So, yes we can all get fed-up with the injustice that surrounds us. Who better to play the distraught everyman from the early 80's than Robert Forster and who better to lead the vigilante's than stalwart Fred Williamson. I only wish there was more... the Blu-ray is, in no way, demo material but it presents Vigilante in a competent, authentic rendering with enough positives in the package to indulge. 

Gary Tooze

September 11th, 2010

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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