Nov 062016

To Live and Die in L.A. is I think a bit of a forgotten crime-drama from the ‘80s and features a wide array of great performances headlined by William Petersen (though I felt he was better in Manhunter) and Willem Dafoe with some amazing cinematography and a vibrant color palette.



To Live and Die in L.A.
— Collector’s Edition | Shout Select #8 —


Genre(s): Drama, Crime, Thriller
Shout Factory | R – 116 min. – $34.93 | November 22, 2016

Date Published: 11/06/2016 | Author: The Movieman


Directed by:
William Friedkin
Writer(s): Gerald Petievich (novel); William Friedkin & Gerald Petievich (screenplay)
Cast: William L. Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell
Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gallery, Theatrical Trailer
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 45.8 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A


THE MOVIE — 4.5/5

Note: This portion was copied from my original review with some minor updates.

Plot Synopsis: Federal agent Richard Chance (WILLIAM L. PETERSEN) has a score to settle, and he’s through playing by the rules. Whether that means blackmailing a beautiful parolee, disobeying direct orders or hurtling the wrong way down a crowded freeway, he vows, with the help of a new partner (JOHN PANKOW) to take down a murderous counterfeiter (WILLEM DAFOE) by any means necessary. But as the stakes grow higher, will Chance’s obsession with vengeance ultimately destroy him?

Review: William Friedkin is either a directorial madman or an insane genius. If you watch The French Connection, you definitely get the feel for the latter. It’s a cinematic classic. It is a thriller that I think most directors aspire to achieve. When most films heavily rely on an overpowering score to push a chase scene, Friedkin instead allows the engine to provide for the suspense. Although this 1985 crime thriller doesn’t exactly achieve those levels, it still retains Friedkin’s unique style… for better or worse. Here, though, I dug the pastels and it would seem the cinematographer took some cues from Michael Mann’s TV series, Miami Vice in terms of style.

To Live and Die in L.A. is a fantastic thriller that features some great performances headlined by William Petersen who does a great job portraying an obsessed character that doesn’t just cross the line of the law but crosses the line of insanity to capture Willem Dafoe’s oddly understated villain. Combined with a good performance from John Pankow and a smaller role by Dean Stockwell (honestly, I could’ve watched a movie about his character), it makes for a different movie viewing experience. Also keep an eye out for Jane Leaves, aka Daphne from Frasier, in a small, dialogue-less role.

In the end, this is certainly a different movie and probably will not appeal to many people. Friedkin’s direction style can be off-putting in that he uses a lot of odd shots and various establishing scenes to propel the story. Personally, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It has an interesting – if not low key – plot and even a surprise or two that will shock even the most seasoned movie watcher. This being now my second viewing, it actually had great replay value and for me, would make as a perfect double feature with Michael Mann’s Manhunter, also starring William Petersen.



This “Collector’s Edition” release comes with a matted slip cover. The interior has a reverse cover revealing the film’s original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary – Co-Writer/Director William Friedkin provides a concise but informative track breaking down his process, the casting of these (then) relatively unknown actors, filming locations, etc.

Taking a Chance (20:41; HD) is a new interview with William Petersen discussing how the movie was his big break and how he was cast, thanks in part to old friend… Gary Sinise.

Wrong Way: The Stunts of To Live and Die in L.A. (35:38; HD) – Stunt coordinator Buddy Joe Hooken looks back on his work on the film.

So in Phase: Scoring To Live and Die in L.A. (12:43; HD) has the band Wang Chung (Jack Hues and Nick Feldman) chatting about their approach to scoring the film (their first).

Doctor for a Day (8:2; HD) is a new interview with Actor Dwier Brown who had a bit role.

Renaissance Woman in L.A. (14:55; HD) is another new interview with Actress Debra Feuer.

Deleted Scene (2:20; HD) and Alternate Ending (6:07; HD) which were interesting to watch but what was in the final version was best, especially the alt. ending which the studio wanted.

Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A. (29:50; SD) is an older featurette with some interviews with members of the cast and crew.

Rounding things out is a Still Gallery (5:27; HD), Theatrical Trailer (2:06; HD) and a Radio Spot (1:04; HD).


VIDEO – 4.75/5

Shout Factory hits it out of the park once again with this amazing, and certainly vivid, transfer for To Live and Die in L.A. This 1080p high-definition transfer, from the original negative and scanned at 4K resolution, and presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio, along with the vibrant colors, has amazing detail throughout and though there is a heavy amount of noise, it seems natural and not at all distracting. From what I could tell, there were no major instances of artifacts, aliasing, banding or other flaws.

Note: If I can find my original MGM release, I will try to make comparisons…

AUDIO – 4.5/5

Not to be outdone, the disc comes with the choices of the 5.1 (default) or 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, and either one sounds great, however I did watch the entire film with the 5.1 option only testing out the other in certain scenes afterward. As such, this is a nice lossless track showcasing the action and drama scenes as well as Wang Chung’s uniquely 1980s score and title song.


OVERALL – 4.5/5

Overall, To Live and Die in L.A. is I think a bit of a forgotten crime-drama from the ‘80s and features a wide array of great performances headlined by William Petersen (though I felt he was better in Manhunter) and Willem Dafoe with some amazing cinematography and a vibrant color palette. This “Collector’s Edition” release from Shout Factory offers incredible video and audio transfers and a nice selection of bonus features.





Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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