187 (1999)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, John Heard, Kelly Rowan, Clifton Gonzales Gonzales
Extras: Commentary track, Trailer

At first glimpse, ’187’ appears to be a dark modern day school drama, and while that is true, it also becomes apparent very quickly that the movie actually lends most of its stories from classic films of the genre, like ’To Sir, With Love.’ While the story may be updated to appeal to modern day audiences, unfortunately it never reaches the emotional impact or the dramatic arch of a classic like movie it draws so heavily from, and appears more like a watered down version of the same thing for pseudo-hip MTV audiences. The gangster theme prominently featured in the film’s central premise, I am not sure who really wants to see a movie about ignorant kids who know how to handle a gun without thinking than how to spell their own names the way it is presented here. The social commentary becomes almost secondary to the fast-edited urban world, heavy use of slang, and moronic mannerisms of the wanna-be gangstas, ultimately making ’187’ more dubious than appealing.

Warner Home Video is presenting ’187’ on this DVD featuring an anamorphic widescreen version of the film as well as a fullframe transfer that is realized as an open matter transfer adding picture information at the top and bottom of the screen. The transfer is generally clean and without defects, but quite a bit of edge-enhancement is visible, giving the entire movie an artificially sharpened look, which also results in ringing artifacts. The color balance is natural and warm with deep blacks and goof highlights. The blue-tinged opening of the movie shows some signs of bleeding on the edges of blue, giving the sequence a somewhat blurry look at times. The transfer reveals some signs of compression artifacts, mostly in the form of slight pixelation.

’187’ contains an English language 5.1channel Dolby Digital audio track as well as Dolby Surround track in French. The audio is well produced and makes aggressive use of the surrounds. The bass extension on the disc is noticeably exaggerated, giving many of the scenes an unnaturally ’fat’ tone, sometimes completely overpowering other ambient sound effects. The mix is mostly balanced, although on occasion dialogue is drowned out by sound effects and especially pumping signals from the LFE channel.
The music of the film has been nicely integrated in the mix creating a very wide sound field for the score that consists mostly of mainstreamized hip-hop tunes.