One Eyed King

One Eyed King (2001)
Somerville House
Cast: William Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri, Armand Assante, Danny Aiello

’One Eyed King’ is an independent film that tells the story of the Irish Mob in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen where everyone is struggling to survive and trying strike it rich, climbing the ladder of the family. It is a story of the friendship between gangsters who grow up together and whose life is put to the ultimate test as they grow up and face the realities and consequences of their criminal existences.

Starring William Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri and Armand Assante in key roles, the film certainly has a good cast to work with but the production itself is a bit flawed, showing director/writer’s Robert Moresco’s insecurity in creating feature films – after all it is his directorial debut. It is not horribly bad, there are just nuances where you know a more experienced filmmaker would have made better decisions. Better in terms of cinematography, pacing, plotting and character development, and more importantly, less voice-over narration.

Velocity Home Entertainment is bringing ’One Eyed King’ to DVD in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. However, the transfer is not even enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The image is very inconsistent and overtly grainy at times yet stable and highly defined at others. The same goes for the color reproduction which fluctuates heavily from overstaurated red pushes to very neutral-looking palettes, rendering a faithful image. Black levels are deep – a bit too deep at times – rendering shadows as pitch black as can be, unfortunately making some of the nighttime shots almost indistinguishable. The image has a soft quality almost throughout, never rendering a truly sharp image and always creating the impression of a slightly fuzzy video recording with chroma noise for some reason. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is acceptable, though not very good, as dot crawl is often noticeable and the image lacks definition in the subtle color gradients.

Audio is presented as a Dolby Surround track that is good but not overly aggressive or dynamic. Frequency response is natural and the dynamic range is also natural and unexaggerated. The DVD does not contain any subtitles or captions making it hard to follow at times at low volume levels as dialogues are a tad inconsistent in volume.

This is an unspectacular DVD release. It is a decent film, though with a few flaws, and the DVD itself is sadly not up to par with current standards. Velocity will have to do a bit of homework in terms of menu navigation as well as technical capabilities of the format. Give it a try if you’re looking for a mob movie, but you may want to rent it first, especially since at a $29.95 suggested retail prize, this is not a cheap DVD.