Hoffa (1992)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Armand Assante
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Original News Footage, Anecdotes, Storyboards, Script, and more

With Danny DeVito’s "Hoffa, " 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is serving up a spectacular movie as a grand DVD, complete with great supplements.

"Hoffa," of course, tells the story of Jimmy Hoffa, the legendary and controversial man who put labor unions on the map of America. An aggressive promoter and eloquent speaker, Hoffa managed to rally millions of people to make sure the working class of America gets a fair treatment form their employers who – at the time – exploited them to no end. In order to achieve this ambitious goal however, Hoffa had to revert to means that were not always politically correct. While the employers preferred to revert to open violence and baseball clubs to negotiate their positions, Hoffa successfully employed the services of the Mob, who not only helped him to obtain fully paid work for his Teamsters to bring food to the table, but also gave him the financial backing that made large scale strikes a possibility, ultimately breaking the exploitative industrialists.

However those practices also caught the eye of the government, namely a young Bobby Kennedy, and thus ensued a battle on a much higher level. What starts out as a communist witch hunt, ends up a personal vendetta between Kennedy and Hoffa and despite Hoffa’s best efforts and the support from millions of people, he was finally indicted and imprisoned for his dubious business relationship with the Mob.

Wonderfully crafted, Danny DeVito has turned Hoffa’s heroic story into a great and captivating movie. Jack Nicholson as James R. Hoffa and DeVito as Bobby Ciaro, his right-hand man, are simply phenomenal to watch. Like a modern-day Robin Hood, Hoffa was a man who was practically forced to use unethical practices for a great good, and the results ultimately show that he was right. Nicholson brings Hoffa to life like no one else would. Full of energy, raw power and pertinence, raging at times, gentle and understanding at others, Nicholson brings out the full range of human behavior in this role and there is never a dull moment in this film. Surrounded by a cast that is equally impressive and gives its all, "Hoffa" is a remarkably vivid film that fells alive at all times.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has prepared an equally great transfer for the movie on this DVD. <$THX,THX>-certified, the presentation is absolutely flawless. There is not a scratch or mar visible anywhere in the print and the level of detail is marvelous, bringing our every little bit of the elaborate production design. Colors are rich and powerful, yet never oversaturated. The color balance is perfect, with natural fleshtones, and vivid hues that properly reproduce the settings of lighting of the film. Black levels are solid, creating deep shadows that never break up and firmly root the image. No edge-enhancement is visible and the compression is also without any flaws. In a word, this is a picture-perfect presentation of the film.

The same goes for the audio on the disc, which his presented as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track. It is an engaging track that makes good and frequent use of the surround channels. The frequency response is wide with a solid bass extension and clean high ends. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

The release also contains a number of superb extras, starting with a <$commentary,commentary track> by Danny DeVito. Entertaining and conversational as ever, DeVito takes viewers on a ride into history and the tribulations – and magic – of movie making like few directors do. I thoroughly enjoyed his <$commentary,commentary track> as he is very candid and outspoken throughout.

He also introduces some of the other features on the disc in his inimitable manner, such as a series of deleted scenes. Some of them are actually very good and I can only assume they have been excised for running-length reasons. He also presents a few clips of the original Hoffa-Kennedy hearing, which is quite amazing. It shows just how well Jack Nicholson nailed the character but it also shows just how steadfast he was and how this whole trial left him unintimidated. I was literally expecting him to get up and say "I don’t care what you think, boy!"

A series of behind-the-scenes footage is also included in which DeVito explains how some of the effects shots in the film were achieved. Interesting stuff that takes you right in the middle of the magic. You will also find anecdotes from Teamsters on the DVD who knew Hoffa, as well storyboards and the film’s entire script.

"Hoffa" is a great movie and shows us Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito at the top of their game. DeVito’s directing is sure and very atmospheric, and his play as usual full of little nuances. Nicholson shines in this part once again, making it his very own. Combined with all the supplements on the disc, this is a DVD you have to see. You simply can’t afford not to know the story of Jimmy Hoffa, a man who changed American society, and you can’t afford not to see it on this glorious DVD. Dig it!