Crime kingpin Christopher Walken is released from prison, and immediately reasserts hiscontrol over the underworld. All sorts of rivals are dispatched messily. He is also at odds withthe police, who are determined to bring him down. Our ganglord isn’t all bad, though: he hasall sorts of impressive community projects in mind.
This last detail is perhaps the most telling point: we are in the realm of full-on fantasy here.Director Abel Ferrara and long-time screenwrite… Nicholas St. John are clearly on-side with theirromanticized Walken, who will not only help the downtrodden but will control the drug flow in away the police can’t. Thus, as in so many of Ferrara’s films, what we have here is yet anothertragic tale of would-be redemption. The film has a sharp look to it, and is very much the work ofindividual artists (Ferrara and St. John are the Martin Scorsese and Paul Schraeder of the Bmovie), but its structure is wonky, and is, in the end, unsatisfying.
The disc comes with both 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. The left-right placement of the sound effectsis good, and the music comes through loud and clear. The overall sound levels could be higher,though, especially when it comes to the rear speakers. Environmental effects are few and farbetween, though the gun blasts, if not always perfectly placed, are certainly explosive and in fullsurround.
One very nice, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image is sharp (losing just a littlebit of definition in long shots). The colours, contrasts and blacks are excellent. When Ferrara,during his commentary, goes into ecstasies about the blacks and the lighting, you can seeprecisely what he’s talking about. The flesh tones are fine too, the grain is close to zero, and thereis no noticeable edge enhancement.
Now this is interesting: both discs have the complete movie. Perhaps this is to compensatefor the small number of extras on Disc 2, since Disc 1 stole all the commentaries. At any rate,the first commentary track is by Abel Ferrara, who is one tough hombre, if one is to judge fromhis profanity-laden, attitude-drenched talk. The track is very entertaining: it’s like having the filmcommented on by a wiseguy. Commentary 2 is hosted by composer Joe Delia, who is joined byproducer Mary Kane, editor Anthony Redman, and casting director Randy Sabusawa. They aresomewhat more restrained than Ferrara, though still very much Noo Yawk. These folks return totalk about Ferrara in the 47-minute documentary “A Short Film About the Long Career of AbelFerrara.” The man himself doesn’t show up. Rounding out the disc is the theatrical trailer.
Disc 2’s main feature is “The Adventures of Schooly D: Snowboarder,” essentially a 42-minute interview with the man behind the film’s hip hop. There is an accompanying School Dmusic video, and here you will also find the TV spots. The menu’s main screen, intro andtransitions are animated and scored.
A messy, very idiosyncratic gangster film. For fans, this is a very solid package, especiallyfor Ferrara’s commentary.
Special Features List
- 2 Audio Commentaries
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- “A Short Film About the Long Career of Abel Ferrar” Documentary
- “The Adventures of Schooly D: Snowboarder” Documentary
- Schooly D Music Video