New from the Shout! Factory family of specialty home video is the recently unveiled Shout Select series. Shout Select came roaring to life earlier in 2016 with well-reviewed releases of films like Road House and Bill & Ted's Execellent Adventure, and they appear ready to continue the trend with three of their most recent discs.
First up is William Friedkin's classic '80s gonzo noir To Live and Die in LA, followed by Volker Schlondorff's made-for-TV version of Death of a Salesman, and finally Bruce Malmuth's rogue cop terrorism thriller Nighthawks.
William Friedkin is a master filmmaker with a number of bonafide classics under his belt. One of those classics which has been revisited on Blu-ray by Shout Select is To Live and Die in LA, a pulse-pounding neo-noir set among the grit and grime of the mid '80s.
After seeing his longtime partner killed as a result of a guerrilla bust gone bad, Secret Service agent Richie Chance (William Petersen) is out for blood. Reassigned to a new partner, the not-so-enthusiastic John Vukovich (John Pankow), Chance sets his sights on big shot drug dealer and counterfeiter Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe). The resulting chase is one hell of an adrenaline high as Chance and Masters risk everything they've got to destroy one another, and LA might just find herself to be collateral damage once the smoke clears.
This is a great film and a reminder of the immense talent of William Friedkin. Like his previous classic cop film, The French Connection, Friedkin keeps the tension cranked up to almost unbearable levels throughout To Live and Die in LA. The result is a film where anything is possible, and frequently bucks expectations to deliver twists that will leave the viewer's jaw on the floor.
To Live and Die in LA comes to this collector's edition Blu-ray with a new 4K restoration that looks glorious. The colors of '80s Los Angeles explode off the screen and detail is exceptional. This is definitely a step up from the previous release from MGM. The audio also gets a boost with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track alongside a DTS-HD MA Stereo track, both of which sound good, though I'm more a fan of the original stereo.
Shout Select went all out in delivering a complete package for this release that combines archival materials and featurettes with newly filmed interviews for a real definitive feel. In terms of archival material, we get an older making-of doc that runs around a half an hour and serves as a decent overview of the film. In addition to that we get interviews with lead actor William Petersen, legendary stunt coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker, composers Jack Hues and Nick Feldman of Wang Chung, and supporting cast Jack Dwier and Debra Feuer.
All of the interviews are quite detailed, even those with performers who were only in the film for a few minutes, and everyone is able to contribute at least a few great anecdotes about the production and how it came together. The last major extra is an alternate ending that was shot but not used. This ending is a ridiculous tag on the existing film that was rightly scuttled but was requested by the producers as an alternative to the film's downbeat ending.
I had never seen To Live and Die in LA before this disc and I was really impressed not only with the film, but also the presentation and care given by Shout Select in their collector's edition release. Definitely recommended.