Lord Of War: Special Edition

Lord Of War: Special Edition (2005)
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto, Ethan Hawke
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentary, Featurettes, Deleted Footage, Trailers

Wow, "Lord of War" is an eye-opener, to say the least. I don't pretend that we live in a peaceful world void of guns and brutality, but this film is sure to blast open any preconceived notions about violence and the reality of the worldwide gunrunning trade. I say this because "Lord of War" is supposedly based on true events, so given that aspect; the story tends to take on a deeply depressing, yet intriguing look at the life of an arms salesman, introducing the viewer to a true sampling of the personification of evil.

Set during the early Eighties right through to the excess of the mid to late Nineties, we are witness to the story of Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), a Ukrainian immigrant to America, living with his family in the Little Odessa neighborhood of New York. Unsatisfied with the direction of his life as well as the direction of his brother's life, Vitaly (Jared Leto), Yuri seizes the opportunity to fill a need and become wealthy in the process by becoming a gun trafficker. Featuring narration from Cage himself, "Lord of War" takes us to the heart of darkness and back as Yuri works his way up to become one of the worlds top suppliers of weaponry to some of the most corrupt and violent criminal elements known to man.

Also being infatuated with billboard model Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan), Yuri sets out to claim her as his trophy wife, setting up a fake photo shoot in an exotic location to meet the "woman of his dreams", eventually leading to marriage and a child. Attempting to maintain his early image of wealth and success keeps Yuri away from home most of the time in an effort to support his lavish lifestyle. Later holding a future filled with more wealth than he originally imagined. With Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), a hard nosed by-the-book federal agent from Interpol always within range of Yuri's dealings, becoming more of a pain in the ass as he attempts to stop Yuri. Great casting providing concrete performances in this truly entertaining film from writer / director Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show, Gattaca), "Lord of War" is a narrative you won't soon forget.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment delivers "Lord of War" on DVD in a crisp and clean anamorphic transfer displaying an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Uniform color saturation provides natural flesh tones, while enhancing the reality and grittiness of the films various locations. Deep rich black levels are responsible for producing a wealth of detail dominant throughout the films presentation. There are no visible distractions due to video compression, just a stable exhibition to admire.

The composure of the provided Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is sure to satisfy. Producing naturally appearing vocal tracks and a decent soundstage that utilizes surround channels during appropriate scenes, without becoming overly aggressive to detract from Cage's consistent narration.

"Lord of War" is available as a basic edition DVD that either features the film and a selection of trailers, or as a two disc edition that contains a nice compliment of behind- the-scenes material.

If you choose to go with the two disc edition, you will have access to an audio commentary from writer / director Andrew Niccol and a selection of deleted scenes. There is also the inclusion of the documentary "Making of a Killing: Inside the International Arms Trade", "The Making of Lord of War" and a cool featurette titled "Weapons of the Trade". The two disc edition also features the inclusion of a dts-ES 6.1 soundtrack. For a measly few dollars more on the suggested retail price, the two disc release makes for an obvious choice in selecting which edition to purchase.

"Lord of War" kind of caught me off guard. Hearing next to nothing about this film during its theatrical run; I had absolutely no idea what I was in for other than the basic storyline of Cage in the role of an arms dealer. From the opening title sequence that features a CGI bullet, from the manufacturing of through to its final destructive use, which provides fascinating, yet unsettling imagery, I knew I was about to experience a completely original product of filmmaking.