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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Deuces Wild
Deuces Wild
MGM // R // August 6, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 2, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Deuces Wild" was reportedly completed sometime in 2000, only to find itself sitting on the shelf for nearly two years. At that point, there's really no explanation that can wash away the negative buzz that's accumulated. Most pictures in this situation either open early in January or September; "Deuces Wild", a film that does have some low-level star power, might have been able to make a bit of money had it opened during those off-season periods, even if it is often pretty lousy. Instead, for some reason, MGM decided to open the picture against a little film called "Spider Man" during the first week of the Summer. It came as no surprise to anyone that "Deuces" got trampled, opening with a little over $2m and vanishing soon after.

Stephen Dorff stars as Leon, the head of a Brooklyn street gang called the Deuces. With the help of his hot-tempered brother Bobby (Brad Renfro), the two generally have succeeded in trying to keep the streets free of the drugs that lead to the death of their brother. Bobby falls in love with Angie (Fairuza Balk), the sister of the head of the rival gang (The Vipers). In the meantime, Marco (Norman Reedus) is about to be freed from jail and looks to continue the drug-dealing business he started before he got locked up, aided by local mobster Fitzy Zennetti (Matt Dillon).

I didn't go into "Deuces Wild" expecting much - I was simply looking for a decent 50's gangster film, maybe with solid performances and a few cool moments. Unfortunately, I found none of those things. The film's screenplay, completely built out of cliches and not concerned with development of character in the slightest, is certainly the main area where the film fails. Decent actors, such as Dorff, are given nothing to do but curse at the other characters. While many would likely state that these characters probably would talk that way, it gets tiresome to hear when it's every other word. While the actors try, none of them convincingly portray 50's gangsters. Even the romance between the Balk and Renfro characters isn't well-developed.

Yes, there are certainly some fight scenes along the way too, but director Scott Kalvert has turned them into a mess of slow-motion, strange edits and overdone sound effects. There's even a lot of cheesy, obviously fake lightning. Even though "Deuces" is about 97 minutes long, it feels like about twice that, largely thanks to the fact that the film is so remarkably predictable and the characters so largely uninteresting. If I have anything nice to say about "Deuces Wild", it's the fact that most of the money seems to have been spent on the production design - all of the period details, from the cars to the shops to whatnot all appear impressively accurate. Still, fancy cars were not enough to hold interest - "Deuces" remained a dull and drab picture throughout. A 50's gangster picture had potential (although I'm not sure how much interest), but "Deuces Wild" simply takes from all the similar films that have come before it.


The DVD

VIDEO: MGM presents "Deuces Wild" in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan. Both are housed on the same side of the dual-layer disc. The anamorphic widescreen edition is a decent presentation, but there's really nothing that noteworthy about the picture quality, which veers from appearing soft to looking fairly close to crispness. The image remains flat and detail is never that great.

A few minor flaws are occasionally spotted: the print largely appears crisp and clear, with the exception of a little speck or two now and then. Light edge enhancement is briefly seen during a couple of scenes, but wasn't terribly noticable - neither were a few minimal traces of pixelation. The film's low-key color palette seemed to be accurately presented. Overall, a decent transfer.

SOUND: "Deuces Wild" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The surrounds are hardly used throughout the picture. The front-heavy audio mainly offers the rather generic-sounding score and the dialogue.

MENUS: Basic, non-animated main and sub-menus.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: director Scott Kalvert and editor Michael Miller provide a full-length audio commentary for the picture. They actually offer a fairly interesting discussion at times, talking about how the budget restricted shooting to the Paramount backlot, where the neighborhood was built and chatting about working with the various members of the cast. There are several stretches of the commentary that do become rather dull as the two discuss simply what's happening in the picture at that moment. Overall though, this was a decent track for a not-so-decent picture.

Also: Trailer and photo gallery.

Final Thoughts: Boring and badly written, "Deuces Wild" wastes a talented cast. MGM's DVD boasts decent audio/video quality, but little in the way of supplements. Not recommended.
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