Turn It Up

Turn It Up (2000)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Pras, Ja Rule, Vondie Curtis-Hall
Extras: Cast & Crew Biographies

The recent urban drama/thriller ’Turn it Up’ is coming to DVD from New Line Home Video. The transfer has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is razor sharp, and its clarity reveals no intrusive noise or grain. The film has a very dark look and the true blacks offered by the DVD give the film a nice look and depth. Likewise, the colors of the daytime scenes are crisp and true. The framing appears to be accurate, and there are no obvious problems from artifacting or compression. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. This mix gives us nice use of surround sound, especially during a gun-fight scene, and offers an impressive dynamic range. As there is a great deal of rap music in ’Turn it Up’ the subwoofer gets a nice workout, but the bass never overwhelms the dialogue, which is typically clear and audible. (Although, I can’t say that it was always intelligible.) The only extra feature on this DVD are cast & crew filmographies.

’Turn it Up’ stars real-life rappers Pras and Ja Rule as life-long friends Diamond (’D’ to his friends) and Gage. Diamond dreams of being a rap star and spends as much time as he can in the recording studio. He pays for that studio time that running drugs with Gage. After a drug-deal goes bad, Diamond begins to think about his life and his priorities. His mother is sick, his relationship with his girlfriend isn’t going very well, and his estranged father (Vondie Curtis-Hall) has just come back into his life. Diamond decides that he wants to put his life of crime behind him and concentrate on his musical dreams. But, he also knows that he simply reject Gage and he soon learns that escape from the streets is nearly impossible.

First-time director Robert Adetuyi does a nice job with ’Turn it Up’, giving the film an even pace and a clean look. Pras is very good as Diamond, bringing a much needed sincerity and honesty to the role. As usual, the intense Curtis-Hall is fascinating to watch. The problem with ’Turn it Up’ is the familiarity of the script. How many times have we head the story about the inner-city kid who wants to leave his old life of crime behind and make it good? ’Turn it Up’ adds some new things to the mix with the rap angle and some plot points concerning Diamond’s dad, but it just all seems to cliched. And to make matters worse, the plot dumps way too many hardships onto poor Diamond. ’Turn it Up’ is by no means a bad movie, it just gets mired down in its own mediocrity. Still, rap fans should be sure to check it out, as there are many familiar faces from the world of hip-hop in the film.