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October 15, 2008
Street Kings Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
17/4/200822/10/2008FoxDavid Ayer
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Keanu Reeves

THE MOVIE
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Keanu Reeves in Street Kings.

Keanu Reeves. The actor who will forever be known for Neo in The Matrix and subsequent sequels isn't one who generally commands attention for his acting abilities, but there are exceptions and Street Kings is one of them. While it may sound like a movie about street racing, that isn't even close as this movie is about the LAPD cops which work the streets. So what exactly is Street Kings about?

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a veteran LAPD cop who finds life difficult to navigate after the death of his wife. When evidence implicates him in the execution of a fellow officer, he is forced to go up against the cop culture he's been a part of his entire career, ultimately leading him to question the loyalties of everyone around him.

Written and directed by David Ayer (who also wrote Training Day, S.W.A.T and U-571) Street Kings isn't your typical buddy-cop movie, but rather focuses on a Tom Ludlo as he struggles with life, turns to alchohol, and uses somewhat unconventional methods to catch the crooks. While Keanu is still quite wooden in his acting with little emotion, the way his alcoholism is caputred on film was quite good.

The supporting cast including Forest Whitaker as Captain Jack Wander, Hugh Laurie as Captain James Biggs, Chris Evans as Detective Paul Diskant and even Cedric the Entertainer as gangster Scribble are all fantastic and bring their characters to life while Common and The Game add in a decent amount of street cred to the gangsters. The action sequences can be quite brutal, but given the nature of the film it actually never seems excessive.

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Another scene from Street Kings...
While there are impressive aspects to Street Kings there were certainly things that held this movie back a little as well. I felt that the progression of the story was fairly predictable, as was the ending, and the movie did lack quite a bit of emotion - primarily on Keanu Reeves' characters part - so you never really root for the characters as much as one would expect. Still with some great action sequences, and interesting characters Street Kings is a movie that will keep you hooked until the gripping conclusion.

While I never expected much from this movie it actually turned out to be quite a worthwhile experience. It is not the all guns blazing shoot 'em up that some people have suggested. Sure, there are gunfights, but this isn't Rambo! Keanu Reeves is great (well, ok, as good as he gets), direction is solid and there are numerous supporting cast putting in fine efforts. If you haven't seen Street Kings yet then we recommend you do so.

VIDEO
Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 this really is a brilliant transfer. Being such a recent release in the cinemas there are no film artifacts or dirt evident on the print, and with the bitrate constantly hovering between 28-34Mbps there is no visible compression artifacts and the image is bright and colourful with ample sharpness and detail.

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There's plenty of action in Street Kings.
While some light grain is evident, typically in the darker scenes, it iss balanced throughout the movie and doesn't suffer the spikes of so many other releases. All-in-all this is another fine release from Fox with oly the occasional scene looking a little softer - almost certainly a deficiency of the source material rather then this transfer.

AUDIO
The main English audio track on this disc, like all Fox releases, is a brilliant DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. With plenty of driving scenes, some action sequences and wonderful orchestral music from composer Graeme Revell. Surround sound use is aggressive, particularly during the gunfights, and the guns actually sound real, unlike those in so many other movies. Dialogue, despite the action happening, is crystal clear.

Other soundtracks on this disc include Italian, German and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks encoded at 768kbps and while not quite as clear as the English track (due to the lower bitrate no doubt) they each off a great listening experience. Subtitles are included for both the main feature and the commentary tracks with the English tracks accurate to the dialogue on screen, and with good timing allowing you to read everything.

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Having a drink around the table.
EXTRAS
With a budget of only $US20 million we didn't expect much in the way of extras, but there is actually a bit here, and some of it is actually quite good.

Audio Commentary with Director David Ayer: As a solo audio commentary David Ayer does a good job keeping you listening with interesting stories about the production, and plot, of the movie. Not the best commentary ever, but not too bad either.

Under Surveillance: Inside the World of Street Kings (36:48): This featurette allows you to watch the movie, and then at certain points branch out an see an interview with various people about different aspects of the movie. There are 36 clips in total however if you wish these can be play from the Special Features menu instead if you don't want to break up the flow of the movie.

Street Rulers: Rolling With David Ayer and Jaime Fitzsimons (17:28): A drive around the street of LA with the director and Jaime Fitzsimons, the LAPD Technical Advisor on the movie, who recalls stories about real life Los Angeles and the various locations used for filming.

Alternate Takes (28.52): This rather interesting extra looks at different takes of scenes with different timing and camera angles. Sadly there's no directors or editors commentary which could have explained why these weren't used over those in the movie, but interesting nonetheless.

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Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker.
L.A. Bete Noir (4.49): A short look at the writing of this movie with screenwriter Jamie Moss.

Street Cred (3.50): A look at the need to get good, and street credible, actors for the roles.

Deleted Scenes (11.55): With optional directors commentary these scenes are a mixture of extensions and completely new with some being quite interesting.

Vignettes (7.50): Promotional in nature these four vignettes include 'Crash Course', 'Heirs to the Throne', 'Inside Vice Special Unit' and 'Training Days'.

Behind the Scenes (3.47): Also promotion this includes four short clips titled 'In Training', 'Car Rig', 'Squibs', and 'On Set'.

Theatrical Trailer B (2:11/HD): The trailer for Street Kings.

OVERALL
Street Kings is quite a down to earth, hard hitting cop movie. A solid script, good acting and great directing make this worth a look and yet again Fox deliver the goods for the main feature. While the Special Features are only in Standard Definition several are quite good in quality. Worth a look.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
7/10
OVERALL
7.5/10

Note: All images in this article are CopyrightŠ Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.