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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Southern Justice
Southern Justice
Velocity Home Entertainment // R // February 21, 2006
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Preston Jones | posted February 13, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

I really liked Southern Justice a lot better when it was called Heavy Southern Nights. I'm not clear why this entirely unremarkable thriller changed its name for video release, but either way, writer/director M.D. Selig's overheated drama at least sounds interesting when it's got a psuedo-porn title - as it stands, Southern Justice evokes images of good 'ol boys mountin' up in their mud-splattered Ford Broncos, shotguns in tow. Maybe, in retrospect, M.D. Selig would've been better off taking his backers' money and making a really hot porn with the Heavy Southern Nights title - he certainly relies upon ample doses of female nudity, abusive men and a violent, convoluted plot that doesn't make much sense upon first glance or closer examination.

Heavy South--, uh, Southern Justice concerns ex-military sniper Slim Manning (auteur M.D. Selig), who's thrown into (and I quote) "the gritty underworld of a small Southern town where fanaticism, vengeance and murder collide." Ooh, scandalous! Slim, who puts his military skills to excellent use running a local strip club, must suddenly deal with a brutally murdered dancer, who appears to be the victim of ritualistic torture and execution. Slim, in a fit of pique, does what any self-respecting titty bar owner would do: hunt down the nutbag killers and administer - wait for it - some Southern Justice. Oh, OK, now I get it. He couldn't very well administer a Heavy Southern Night. More dancers bite the big one and Slim somehow manages to get his teenage daughter involved which ups the ante considerably. Wouldn't you know it - Slim is forced to rely upon those ingrained sniper skills to bring the baddies down, or as the DVD case so eloquently puts it, "keep his world intact."

Sure, it all sounds mildly compelling, but damned if I could figure out what was going on after 15 minutes - Selig cuts back and forth, developing a couple stories at once, which is slightly disorienting. Once the story proper gets going, it doesn't help that all of the actors are of the, shall we say, recreational variety - line readings tumble from mouths like to-go orders at Taco Bell, with all the conviction of a wet paper towel. Add to this a mish-mash soundtrack with no real sense of cohesion, pedestrian visual compositions (including so many awkwardly staged fights that violence is laughable, not gripping) and a dog-tired narrative and you've got a flick which feels an awful lot like being socked in the nether regions for 90 minutes. If there's any Southern Justice, this will be Selig's last outing behind (and in front of) the camera.

The DVD

The Video:

The package promises "16x9 widescreen" which, if that means a soft, mushy non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, then we've got definite truth in advertising. I suspect however that the filmmakers would prefer to let this wholly unimpressive image stand as their definition of a quality visual representation.

The Audio:

Despite the presence of a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, nearly 80% of this film's dialogue is unintelligible at normal listening levels. Sure, you can crank it up, but then you're assaulted by the overcranked bass, predominantly coming from the cheeseball score. It's a muddy, poorly mixed soundtrack that makes Southern Haunts even more of a chore to sit through then it would be otherwise. Also on board is an equally lifeless Dolby 2.0 stereo track and Spanish subtitles.

The Extras:

The only bonus material included are trailers for The Choke, Beeper and Dallas 362.

Final Thoughts:

Southern Justice is an exercise in wannabe Tarantinoisms, steeped in an ostensibly gritty tone that becomes progressively dumber and funnier as the film unspools. Writer/director/actor/producer/editor M.D. Selig clearly loves him some noir but hasn't done the genre, um, justice. Skip it.

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