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

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

80






Studio and Year: 1985 - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 116 minutes
Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 4.0, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 2.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Turturro, Dean Stockwell, John Pankow
Directed by: William Friedkin
Music by: Wang Chung
Written by: Gerald Petievich (novel), William Friedkin (screenplay)
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 2, 2010







"A Federal Agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angles is about to explode."



Film Synopsis:


In director William Friedkin's supercharged thriller, William L. Petersen plays a "hot dog" special agent of the Secret Service who's out to arrest and convict an arrogant counterfeiter (William Dafoe) who has eluded the law for years and who flaunts his success. Dafoe has been asking for a down payment on a sale of bogus bills, but the amount is larger than the secret can authorize Petersen, undercover, to pay to entrap Dafoe in a "sting" operation. Petersen is forced to set up a dangerous plan to steal the advance money and use it to buy bogus bills and bust the counterfeiter.




My Take:


To Live and Die in L.A. was one of my favorites back in my *gasp* VHS days. I have not seen this flick in over 15 years, so I was really excited to revisit it. Having quite the pedigree, To Live and Die in L.A. was directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) and was touted as a “return to form” after a few downs in his career. Also having a great cast cast including William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, & John Turturro, the movie was under-appreciated by critics and was lost in the shuffle of 1985’s many blockbusters (Like Back to the Future!). It didn’t quite fit as it had a strange dichotomy of the 80’s Michel Mann-esque glam and a gritty side that was slightly uncomfortable and never dug deep enough. Richard Chance (Peterson) is on a personal vendetta to take down the counterfeiter Rick Masters (Dafoe) who killed his partner just days before his retirement. Chance will go as far as it takes to get Master at any cost. To Live and Die in L.A. plays out a bit different than most movies in its genre, a few surprises keep it fresh for first time viewers. Besides the occasional over acting and wanna-be sex symbol posing by William Peterson, the cast is superb. Director William Freidkin pulls off one of the best car chase sequences I have seen (not as great as his French Connection chase!). I was glad to see it again; it’s just not as great as I remember, and I will now call it a guilty pleasure. The mark of a great movie is it that is feels timeless-- To Live and Die in L.A. reeks of the 80’s, tight jeans and all.




Parental Guide:


Rated R for strong bloody brutal violence, pervasive language and some strong sexuality





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.**


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

Audio: 82


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:




Video: 78


  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

To Live and Die in L.A. comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an constant bitrate of 18 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 mbps.

Seeing that they included the DVD of the film, it’s easy to compare the two releases of To Live and Die in L.A.. The video is a better, but not an outstanding transfer by any means. Colors are real and crisp, and skin-tones seem right on the money. There is something unsettling about the grain structure, as it looks a bit more like noise then grain to me. The transfer doesn't have the strongest black levels I have seen but the shadow details were intact. I just wish the transfer were a bit sharper. The DTS-HD Master Audio track was better than expected. From the loud 80’s synth-pop soundtrack of Wang Chung (I must admit to humming main title for a day now) to very clear scenes of dialogue: it was quite dynamic. The mix used the surrounds well, even if they were not so much for the soundstage panning of the car chases etc., they added needed dimension. The high end was a bit tinny and there were a few moments that made me shrill, almost like it was not mastered as well as it could have been. The LFE had its moments, shacking my room nicely in scene's like the terrorist explosion in the beginning. The audio and video of this release are both a step-up from the DVD, but not the major upgrade fans will be hoping for.




Bonus Features:

  • Extras are on the DVD Disk in 480p

  • Commentary with Director William Fredkin

  • Deleted Scenes and Alternative ending Featurettes

  • Counterfeit the World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A.

  • Photo Gallery




Final Thoughts:


A fun and original movie, To Live and Die in L.A. is recommended even if it feels a bit dated. Owners of the DVD won’t be wowed by this Blu-ray, though it is an upgrade. All the extra features are on the Special Edition DVD (from 2003), as that DVD is included. It is a bit annoying to switch disc’s to watch special features in 480p, and to listen to the commentary track while watching the DVD version of the film. Fredkin's commentary is interesting and quite quirky though it drags at times. The movie and Blu-ray are recommended to those who have never seen To Live and Die in L.A., but the owners of the DVD need to weigh how much of a fan they are before buying.









Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews




Reference Review System:



Anthem LTX 500 1080p High Definition Front Projector

Prismasonic HE1500R Anamorphic Lens

Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen

Pioneer SC27 Receiver

Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)

SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer
 

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Nice review, Lee. The film is VERY 80s -- the screaming neon colors in the title sequence alone are a dead giveaway!


I think your audio rating is quite generous. They probably did what they could to update the mix, but the fidelity of the original elements seems quite limited.


I'm glad the picture got a decent, high-bitrate AVC encode. There is a lot of grain/noise in the darker areas of the picture but I think it actually suits the gritty material.


My only real criticism of this release is that they didn't include all of the DVD extras on the Blu-ray. I guess they figured they didn't need to since both discs are in the package. I hope we don't see this repeated too often with other catalog titles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by callott /forum/post/18122207


Nice review, Lee. The film is VERY 80s -- the screaming neon colors in the title sequence alone are a dead giveaway!


I think your audio rating is quite generous. They probably did what they could to update the mix, but the fidelity of the original elements seems quite limited.



My only real criticism of this release is that they didn't include all of the DVD extras on the Blu-ray. I guess they figured they didn't need to since both discs are in the package. I hope we don't see this repeated too often with other catalog titles.

Thank you!


I agree on the DVD/Extra features issue. at least do a quick up-convert/encode and have them available on the Blu-ray as well.


The Audio was uneven...but at times did sound very nice. Its a nice improvement over the DVD. When I rated the audio I kept the age of the track, the work they did to add the surrounds as well as they did, and a listen back to the older DVD release in mind. It has its issues but I think its the best we will ever hear this film.
 

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Wang Chung soundtrack FTW!



This was also a guilty 80's pleasure for me, probably give it a whirl on the old Netflix for old times sake.
 

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This movie is one of my all-time favorite cult-classics. It is timeless. Its very raw and the cast was great, and for most of them it was one of their first movies ( Petersen, Dafoe, Turturro, Pankow). And the soundtrack is amazing. Did I mention the car chase?

The ending was really a surprise as most who have seen the movie already know. I have the regular DVD and in Freidkin's interview he explained as to why he ended it the way he did, and he was right on.

If you have not seen this movie yet, do yourself a favor and watch it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikepier /forum/post/18127870


This movie is one of my all-time favorite cult-classics. It is timeless. Its very raw and the cast was great, and for most of them it was one of their first movies ( Petersen, Dafoe, Turturro, Pankow). And the soundtrack is amazing. Did I mention the car chase?

Same here. I've owned it in every media it was released in and now it looks like I'll own it on Blu. I must have watched this film a dozen times or more, including twice at the theater.
 

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Good review liked the movie love the Wang Chung soundtrack its classic, I saw another review think it was Bluray.com slagging off Wang Chung's soundtrack glad some of appreciate that it's a good soundtrack
 

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I quite liked this movie on DVD, BUT I did NOT get the very ending. What was going on there???!!!



I'd like to know what the symbolism was of the very last scenes.



Anyway, I may upgrade to the blu, but something about the ending just didn't make sense to me (and that is what is holding me back).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by starman7 /forum/post/18132719


I quite liked this movie on DVD, BUT I did NOT get the very ending. What was going on there???!!!



I'd like to know what the symbolism was of the very last scenes.



Anyway, I may upgrade to the blu, but something about the ending just didn't make sense to me (and that is what is holding me back).

If you watch the deleted alternate ending, Friedkin talks about why he ended it the way he did, and why he did not use the alternate ending. Very interesting and it makes sense to me at least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by starman7 /forum/post/18132719


I quite liked this movie on DVD, BUT I did NOT get the very ending. What was going on there???!!!



I'd like to know what the symbolism was of the very last scenes.



Anyway, I may upgrade to the blu, but something about the ending just didn't make sense to me (and that is what is holding me back).
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikepier /forum/post/18132793


If you watch the deleted alternate ending, Friedkin talks about why he ended it the way he did, and why he did not use the alternate ending. Very interesting and it makes sense to me at least.

Like he said ^


I always thought the ending was it's anchor and best moment(s).
 
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