Quentin Tarantino made it from underdog to Hollywood-wunderkind faster than anyone else in recent memory. "Reservoir Dogs" and Pulp Fiction" were movies that gave critics and audiences plenty to talk about and plenty to like. Created with the spirit of a ferocious independent filmmaker "Pulp Fiction," for example, became a break-out hit and created what you could call the "Tarantino-touch." A movie that is very gritty, very violent, sarcastic to no end, almost comically comic-book-like and at the same time profound in its message and observation of modern-day society.
Like most of Tarantino’s films, "Jackie Brown" does not have an exactly linear storyline. The viewer is diverted into subplots which in the end all meet to create the movie’s finale. Here we have Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) a small-time arms dealer, making a living selling guns to the brothers on the street. As the Feds get too close for comfort, he decides that he has to take some drastic measures and eliminate some risk factors – and he goes out to shoot them. All the while he tries to bring his long-time friend Louis (Robert DeNiro) into the business, who was just released from prison and now has an eye on Ordell’s double-dealing girlfriend (Bridget Fonda.)
Ordell decides to use Jackie Brown, a flight assistant for a small-time airline, to bring $500,00 he has stashed away in Mexico into the US. But Jackie is not nearly a s simple-minded as Ordell believes, especially when she is gets caught by the Feds during an errand run. $500,00 is a lot of money, especially for someone like Jackie and she devises an intricate plan to get the better of both, Ordell and the Feds.
"Jackie Brown" is a Tarantino-film inside out. The editing of the film shows his trademark elements, aggressively using split-screen techniques and different point-of-views to tell his story from a variety of angles and characters. Combined with the solid storyline and his firm grip on the direction of the movie, these elements make "Jackie Brown" us visually unique film that effectively uses these devices as part of the story rather than editorial afterthoughts.
The movie also features a stellar cast who manages to bring the characters in the movie to absolutely believable life. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton and Robert Forster make up the supporting cast to the movie’s titular heroine, beautifully played by Pam Grier. Her performance shows that she has always been one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood as she makes her way through the movie with an enigmatic charm and a sense of superiority that makes this role her very own. It is the best performance Grier has ever given – mind you it is the best film she’s ever made, too – and the part really allows her to show off her abilities the sensibility to play a character of Jackie’s caliber. It is also her who makes sure the film is elevated above the dim-witted urban movie fare that we get to see so often when a predominantly black cast appears on film. Due to Grier’s natural performance in this film, "Jackie Brown" never turns into a ghetto-movie and while the language maybe often be borderline, for once it serves a purpose, ensuring that the film as a whole is cohesive and believable.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has prepared a splendid DVD for this eagerly awaited movie. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in a presentation that is enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. The print is absolutely clean and free of defects. No scratches or other blemishes mar the presentation. At the same time the transfer reveal an incredible level of detail. At times very dark in its cinematography, the DVD perfectly restores the look of the film with blacks that are absolutely solid. Shadows are finely delineated and always contain just the right amount if image information without ever breaking up or losing definition. The colors of the presentation are equally convincing. Whether it’s the natural looking outdoor shots or the colorful interiors of a seedy bar, the presentation always renders colors in vivid hues, and without noise or bleeding. But also the subtle pastel hues found throughout the movie are perfectly reproduced to capture Tarantino’s vision. There is no edge-enhancement noticeable in the presentation and the compression of the film has also been very carefully to keep all the image details fully intact, making this a true showcase video transfer.
"Jackie Brown" contains a very exciting audio track, like most of Tarantino’s films, full with cool music and subtle sound effects. Buena Vista Home Entertainment is offering up a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track as well as a DTS track on this DVD. Both tracks are perfectly balanced with very good bass roll-off and clear high ends. Dialogues are well integrated and sound absolutely natural without any bit of "edge." The music, while dominant in parts of the music, is never mixed too far in the front, however, making sure the viewer remains focused on the events on the screen while being bathed in the music, rather than taking the viewer out of the experience. Sound effects are very dynamic and make good use of the surround channels at all times. The dynamic range of the track is very good, managing to capture even the most subtle ambient effects with ease, while leaving enough headroom for the more explosive moments of the film where a gunshot slices through the silence.
Coming as a 2-disc set, the release contains a good number of bonus features that fans will love. It starts with a short introduction by Quentin Tarantino himself where h offers some basic insight into the film.
Though no commentary track has been added to the release, a "Fact Track" can be found on the first disc, accompanying the movie. In this subtitle track you can learn a lot of things about the production of the film itself, as well as some more funny aspects of the movie and its characters. Unfortunately the creators of the DVD did not consider captions for this track and when running both, closed captions and the Fact Track, they overlap, making it impossible to actually read either one of them.
The second disc of the set contains "Jackie Brown: How It Went down," a 45-minute documentary. Sadly, this is a just a fluffy promo piece edited together from movie footage and promotional interview bits, offering no real value or information about the actual production of the movie.
It is followed up by "A Look Back At Jackie Brown," an almost one-hour interview feature with Quentin Tarantino. This featurette is full of valuable information and insight into the production of the film, as well as what makes the filmmaker tick. Talking about his cast, the public reactions to the film and his success in general, Tarantino is very open in his thoughts and gives viewers a chance to better understand his work.
The "Chicks With Guns" commercial that is featured in the film is also part of the DVD in its entirety, giving you a better and undisturbed look at the "guns." Also included is a selection of alternate takes and deleted scenes from the movie. Running about 25-minutes, this is quite a lot of additional footage that includes complete scenes that didn’t make it into the final film.
The review of "Jackie Brown" from "Siskel & Ebert At The Movies" can also be found on the disc, together with a radio spot featuring Pam Grier and "Jackie Brown On MTV." While the latter has certainly no value at all and just goes to show how braindead and low MTV programming has become, it is a nice addition for completeness’ sake nonetheless.
The DVD is rounded out by a large selection of trailers and TV Spots, as well as a categorized photo gallery with over 200 images. Additional DVD-ROM content can also be found on the release, such as an "enhanced Playback Track," which is essentially en expansion of the "Fact Track" with even more information. Other ROM features include the movie’s shooting script and a small game.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has gone all out with this release of "Jackie Brown" and I daresay, this release was certainly worth the wait. Featuring a stellar presentation of the movie and a cool goodie-bag of extras, this is the DVD fans had been waiting for, no doubt. Make sure to add this gem to your collection.