- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Mono
- Subtitles: English, Cantonese, Korean, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: R
- Discs: 2
- Studio: MGM
- Blu-ray Release Date: February 2, 2010
- List Price: $24.99[amazon-product align=”right”]B0024F08KQ[/amazon-product]
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
To Live and Die in L.A. is an interesting 80’s times capsule; a slice of sleek and stylish crime drama from William Friedkin, the director of The French Connection, set to the music of 80’s one-hit-wonder band Wang Chung. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Miami Vice, then you pretty much know what to expect from To Live and Die in L.A.
Its MTV inspired collages of the gritty side of L.A. eschew the glitz and glamour of “la la land” we are used to and replace them with back streets, industrial towns, and off their-rockers criminals. William Petersen is U.S. Treasury Agent Richard Chance hunting down a notorious counterfeiter, Rick Masters, played with just the right amount of insanity by Willem Dafoe. Masters killed Chance’s partner just four days before his retirement, and now Chance is willing to do anything to get his revenge on Masters.
Chance and his new partner Vukovich (John Pankow) hatch a scheme to bust Masters selling his “funny-money,” but they need $50 thousand in front money, and the Treasury Department won’t go that high. That’s where Chance’s informant and lover, Bianca Torres (Debra Feuer) comes in. She tells them of a man coming in to town to buy stolen jewels who happens to have $50 thousand in cash. Of course, it all goes wrong and the two get involved in one of the most spectacular car chases put to film — one worthy of William Friedkin and nearly rivaling the one from The French Connection.
Beneath its veneer of 80’s hipster polish and MTV-generation vogue, and despite some of its clumsy and unintentionally humorous dialogue (“you want dough, go f**k a baker”), To Live and Die in L.A. is an intense bit of crime drama. At times visceral and thrilling, the film preceded most of its ilk and helped define this crime procedural genre.
Despite the erroneous information listed on the packaging, To Live and Die in L.A. is not and MPEG-2 encoded single-layer BD25. The film is encoded on a dual-layer BD50 disc in AVC/MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Unfortunately, it may was well have been encoded on a single-layer disc based on the results. The encoding is quite inconsistent, varying from very clean, sharp, and detailed, to suffering from a lot of softness, and flicker. Grain often becomes quite harsh, looking more like video noise. On the positive side, colors look great and flesh tones are accurate.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack for To Live and Die in L.A. is just as inconsistent as the video transfer. At times it is big and reverberant, with the sound of gunshots filling the entire soundstage, other times it is dry and front-heavy. It seems like sound effects are panned into surrounds haphazardly, with no cohesive feel to the overall mix, other than a need to make the music big and reverberant. The dialogue also suffers from clipping and sounds quite harsh at times. A strength of the mix is the use of the front channels to effectively follow the action.
You’ll not find any worthwhile supplements on this barebones release. All they managed to muster up for this release is the original theatrical trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24) and a few trailers for some other films. The release, however, does come bundled with a standard DVD version of the film.
The Definitive Word
It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it it is an interesting look back at the 1980’s and it contains one of the best car chases you’ll ever see in a film. This is a forgotten crime drama that deserves a second look, despite its flaws and the flaws of this Blu-ray release.
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