When Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans, four desperate friends from the Lower Ninth Ward band together to pull off a daring heist in the heart of the city. When things don’t go as planned, they soon find themselves with a chair when the music stops. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of Cut Throat City from Well Go USA.


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Well Go USA - 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 123 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Shameik Moore, Tip T.I Harris, Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kat Graham, Wesley Snipes, Terrence Howard, Eiza Gonzalez, Ethan Hawke
Directed by: RZA
Music by: Dhani Harrison, Paul Hicks
Written by:P.G. Cuschieri
Region Code: A

Release Date: October 20, 2020

"We Can See Further Through Our Tears…"


When Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans, four desperate friends from the Lower Ninth Ward band together to pull off a daring heist in the heart of the city. When things don’t go as planned, they soon find themselves with a chair when the music stops.

My Take:

Cut Throat City tells the story of four boyhood friends from New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward who return after Hurricane Katrina to decimated homes, no jobs, and no help from FEMA. Out of options, they reluctantly turn to a local gangster, who offers them one shot at turning their situations around—by pulling off a dangerous heist in the heart of the city. When the job goes bad, the friends find themselves on the run, hunted by two relentless detectives and a neighborhood warlord who thinks they stole the heist money.

Cut Throat City tells a familiar story. Young black men struggling to cope with the cards dealt to them by the cyclical forces of poverty, their environment and, in this case, mother nature. Clearly aimed a sociopolitical themes, corruption and drama that speaks to the human condition as seen from the perspectives of four friends faced with what they saw as zero options, the film features solid opening and middle acts, which do a terrific job of blending character with story.

The narrative and apt direction do a great job of drawing you in and seeing the four young men as sympathetic, despite their actions. This is essential as the film paints a bleak picture both in tone and context. Its examination of life in a world where choices are few, raises provocative discussion. I enjoyed the directness of the storytelling as well as how well the characters and their place within it are drawn. The escalation of events and the foreboding nature of where things are headed are compelling.

The finale (about the last 20 plus minutes) just made little sense to me, given what transpired leading up to it. There’s this abrupt, head first dive into a pool that has no water, which takes the most rewarding and hopeful aspects of the plot completely off the rails. This is followed by a weird dual ending, of sorts, that left me scratching my head.

I really enjoyed the performances by the ensemble cast. Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Tip Harris and the four young actors that portrayed the core cast were excellent. While I didn’t connect with the ending as much as I would have liked, Cut Throat City proved to be quite good.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, pervasive language, drug content, some sexual material and nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.

Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:

Cut Throat City comes to Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This is a high-quality video presentation that boasts deep, stable blacks and bold dynamic contrast. Colors range from vivid to intentionally reserved/muted. Fleshtones are lustrous with appreciable tonal delineation that highlights subtle variations in the complexions of the largely African American cast. Images are detailed and dimensionally rendered. Shadow detail is strong which provides an appreciable sense of depth during the low-lit interior sequences. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.

The lossless soundtrack doesn’t consistently engage the entire surround platform however it has moments where it energizes the room and reproduces the source elements with aplomb. Dialog has definitive presence with refined vocal character and excellent room penetration. Dynamic range is very good which lends subtle distinction to low level sounds and gravity to broader ones. The source elements don’t always call for this as dialog, atmospheric ambience and musical enhancement is conveyed with little fanfare. However, there are several sequences that engage the entire system to briefly produce entertaining and room filling sound that is measurable. All in all, this is a solid audio/video presentation that accented the film’s thematic tone.

Bonus Features:
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers
  • DVD

Final Thoughts:

Cut Throat City is an engaging and topical drama that while not wholly gratifying, succeeds due to the sum of its parts and a series of strong performances from its cast. It comes to Blu-ray from Well Go USA featuring excellent high definition audio/video and a middling supplemental set. Cut Throat City is worthwhile viewing that deserves place atop your Blu-ray rental queue.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems