To Live and Die in LA (1985) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Thriller
MGM || R - 116 minutes - $24.99 || February 2, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-07


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: William Friedkin
Writer(s): Gerald Petievich (novel); William Friedkin & Gerald Petievich (screenplay)
Cast: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, John Turturro, Dean Stockwell


Theatrical Release Date: November 1, 1985


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • DVD Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 4.0), Spanish (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Plot: Federal agent Richard Chance (WILLIAM L. PETERSEN) has a score to settle, and he’s through playing by the rules. Whether that means blackmailing a beautiful parolee, disobeying direct orders or hurtling the wrong way down a crowded freeway, he vows to take down a murderous counterfeiter (WILLEM DAFOE) by any means necessary. But as the stakes grow higher, will Chance’s obsession with vengeance ultimately destroy him?

William Friedkin is either a directorial madman or an insane genius. If you watch The French Connection, you definitely get the feel for the latter. It’s a cinematic classic. It is a thriller that I think most directors aspire to achieve. When most films heavily rely on an overpowering score to push a chase scene, Friedkin instead allows the engine to provide for the suspense. Although this 1985 crime thriller doesn’t exactly achieve those levels, it still retains Friedkin’s unique style... for better or worse.

To Live and Die in L.A. is a fantastic thriller that features some great performances headlined by William Petersen who does a great job portraying an obsessed character who doesn’t just cross the line of the law but crosses the line of insanity to capture Willem Dafoe’s oddly understated villain. Combined with a good performance from John Pankow and a smaller role by Dean Stockwell (honestly, I could’ve watched a movie about his character), it makes for a different movie viewing experience.

Overall,TLADILA (how do you like that acronym?) is certainly a different movie and probably will not appeal to many people. Friedkin’s direction style can be offputting in that he uses a lot of odd shots and various establishing scenes to propel the story. Personally, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It has an interesting – if not low key – story and even a surprise or two that will shock even the most seasoned movie watcher. Since this was my first viewing, I’m unsure how much replay value it has, but for a first-time viewing, I would give it a whole hearted recommendation.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray disc doesn’t include any features but there is a copy of the original DVD which does have a few features:

First up is an audio commentary with William Friedkin followed by a deleted scene (2:20), an alternate ending (6:07) and finally, Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in LA Documentary (29:50), an extensive featurette where you get to hear from the cast and crew.

Also, the alt. ending and deleted scene has a featurette associated with each. The most fascinating one is for the alternate ending in which Friedkin and Petersen explain that the studio wanted a different ending and how ridiculous it was, and yes, it was awful.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

To Live and Die in L.A. is presented with a 1.85 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. First, I must say that comparing this with its DVD counterpart, the picture this time is framed right as the DVD showed some black on the left side, now the video fills the screen from left to right. Now, as for the HD transfer, because this was filmed in 1984/85, there was a good amount of grain and noise and thus detail levels were not the best but, again comparing it to the DVD, it is much better and more natural.

The Blu-ray also sports a nice 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It doesn’t have the dynamic range that most modern releases have, but it is good enough. The dialogue comes across the center speaker clearly and the front and rear channels are used for the score/soundtrack and other ambient noises.



.::OVERALL::.

To Live or Die in LA is substance over style despite William Friedkin’s attempts at trying some new things in his direction, but even so, this is one of the better crime thrillers I’ve seen in a long time and the performance of lead actor William Petersen proves why a show like “CSI” was so successful while he was at the helm. The Blu-ray has a marginal improvement over the DVD in both audio and video with the latter getting a needed boost even if the detail levels aren’t the best. Also, I like that MGM is including the DVD version, I just wish the features were on the Blu-ray disc.