To Live and Die In LA

To Live and Die In LA (1985)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending, Photo Gallery, Documentary

Director William Friedkin may be best known for "The Exorcist" but aside from making one of the scariest horror films in cinema history, he also created a number of memorable crime thrillers, such as "The French Connection" and "To Live And Die In LA," which is now seeing the light of high definition on this Blu-Ray Disc.

Fueled by the raging 80s film style that includes synth pop scores and Miami vice-style action police officers, "To Live And Die In LA" is a film that feels dated despite its rather timeless story and execution. Federal agent Chase (William Peterson) loses his partner in the heat of the action while trying to bring down a counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe). Determined to bring him down at any cost, Chase doesn't seem to mind to disobeying orders or the law, Dragging his new partner along with him, Chase's revenge is driving him more and more into the shady underworld he is trying to fight, using every device in his repertoire to get a leap on the counterfeiter and stop the constant influx of fake money.

Packed with action and suspense, "To Live And Die In LA" is as gritty as it sounds, yet at the same time as polished as you'd expect. It features wonderful character portrayals as well as breath-taking action sequences, such as a car chaser along the wrong side of a busy LA freeway.

MGM Home Entertainment's transfer has been beautifully restored for the previous DVD release – which is also included in its entirety on this release – and it makes for a great showing in this high definition presentation also. The transfer renders an image that offers an incredible level of detail throughout with sharp edges and very little grain. Colors are powerfully rendered, bringing to life the seedy underworld of LA as well as the wonderful indoor shots the production provides. Blacks are deep and solid, creating an image with good visual depth that looks dimensional at all times.

Arriving as a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track, as well as a 4.0 Dolby Digital track, the audio on the release is powerful and dynamic, perfectly suited to emphasize the picture. Sound effects are very spatial and make aggressive use of the surround channels while dialogues are always perfectly balanced without being drowned out. The synth-pop music score is also carried over with a wide frequency response that help bring the music to live.

As extras the release a DVD version as a second disc. On this disc you will also find the bonus materials of the release, such as a commentary track by director William Friedkin, Deleted Scenes and Alternate Endings, as well as a Photo Gallery.

"To Live And Die In LA" is a really cool flick that is engaging and suspenseful. While the high definition transfer is great looking, one can't shake the feeling that the release as a whole has been treated a bit sloppy. None of the bonus materials form the DVD have been carried over – fortunately, however, that DVD disc is part of the release so at least the supplements are there, though not in the shape one would have hoped. Over all it is not a bad release, but one that could heave been cooler and merits and upgrade only if you really want to see the film itself in high definition without expecting any additional or improved bonus materials.