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Only knowing some basics about who Steve McQueen was, I came into "Bullitt" not sure what to expect. The only thing I knew about "Bullitt" previously to this review was an old car chase that still competes with the best of them.
Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is assigned to a normal witness protection mission. Bullitt and 2 other police officers are instructed to protect the witness for a mere 48 hours. When 2 hit men come in and shoot an officer and the witness while Bullitt is out, Bullitt knows the 'secure' information leaked out somehow. He is outraged and promises to seek revenge. Bullitt will stop at nothing to find out how they knew where the witness was and seek out the mob boss that hired the hit men to kill the witness.
Steve McQueen really hit his turning point when he filmed "Bullitt." He had been in several movies and TV shows before, but "Bullitt" propelled him into stardom. McQueen had everything going for him because as "Bullitt" became well known, so did he. With his sex appeal and his desire for accurate detail in his movies, McQueen was a perfect fit for the role of Frank Bullitt.
"Bullitt" in itself is a great movie. It has what seems to be a simple good cop-bad cop, revenge movie, but because of the acting and the non-stop action, "Bullitt" set the mark for action movies in the 70's. Sure you might get some cheesy dialogue once and a while, and sure it might be a little slow, but that was the time period. Films weren't edited with quick cuts--if they wanted to get something across, they would use dialogue. Sometimes, the dialogue could run a little long, but fortunately for us, overall the movie was perfectly crafted to make a great action flick.
If you have never seen "Bullitt" before, you have to watch it, even if it is just for its car chase because "Bullitt" is known for its incredible 10-minute car chase. The scene is entirely done by Steve McQueen himself. He always wanted people to realize that he was driving the car and not a stunt double. It took place on the streets of San Francisco, which they actually completely shut down for filming. All I can say is there is lots of fast driving, some good air, and cinematography that will knock your socks off, especially considering when "Bullitt" was made.
"Bullitt" is a well acted, well written, and well shot. I absolutely loved watching Steve McQueen in his prime. There are so many reasons to watch "Bullitt" but if you even just watch it for the chase scene, you will be extremely happy you did.
Other then the obvious struggles with the transfer from age, "Bullitt" has some really nice touches. The blacks are good, the skin tones are spot on, and the colors are nice. It does however struggle with having enough contrast--through most of the film the picture feels pretty flat. There is also some grain, but nothing that is too distracting. Definitely still a worthy transfer that brings this older film to life.
Dolby Digital 2.0...hmm...not good. I wish we could have had at least a 5.1 track that would have given us some nice lows and a good mix of highs. I wanted it so badly during the chase to feel like I was there, and unfortunately I didn't. The lows were present, but not nearly high enough. Dialogue was fairly even and was pretty easy to hear throughout. Definitely nothing to get excited about.
Commentary: With Director Peter Yates. In the present day, Yates is now almost 80 years old. It is definitely refreshing to hear from the one that would know the most about "Bullitt," but unfortunately he really struggles through his commentary track. There are times of long pauses that he doesn't talk at all, and then when he does talk he repeats himself a lot, and has trouble getting the words out smoothly.
Yates loves to go into technical details; he talks about shooting and a lot about the locations where he shoots. Dealing with the locations, Yates loves to tell us about how at certain scenes, like the hospital scene, where they used actual doctors and nurses. As for the chase scene...Yates definitely enjoys the chase just as much as everyone else, he talks about the driving, shooting difficulties, and even McQueen hitting a camera at one point. If you are a big "Bullitt" fan, then this is worth a watch.
Bullitt: Steve McQueen's commitment to Reality: Here we get some behind the scenes footage of McQueen and stuntmen...driving fast, direction, and acting. This extra is presented in the typical video quality from that time frame and of course we get more info on the chase scene. We do get to hear of some of the dangers in the stunts that McQueen performed, but overall this is a short feature.
Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool: This is about the life of Steve McQueen and the people in it. This is a nice feature that has interviews with family members and friends. There are several clips from his movies (only a couple dealing with Bullitt), interviews about his personality, relationships, his family, mom, dad, and not growing up with them. They also talk about problems that he had, people he worked with, even spirituality. Then we get into his death, and the legend that is Steve McQueen. Again, a nice documentary that is very behind-the-scenes in the life of an incredible actor.
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing: This is documentary narrated by Kathy Bates. The best part about it is that it is in full 1080p! This is a great documentary, with interviews with actors, directors, editors, with a range even including Quentin Tarantino. What we get is a documentary about editing, with some of the best-edited movies of all time. With movies ranging from the Matrix to Bullitt, we get a nice array of clips, history, technical details, and how technology has changed. This is an incredible piece, and one that any fans of "The Matrix" should watch if they want to see 1080p "Matrix" goodness without waiting for the BD version. Other than "The Matrix" there are some incredible features on other movies and how they are edited. If you watch only one special feature on this disc...this is the one to watch.
"Bullitt" is an extremely well done movie. It is a fast paced action flick that does have some slow moments, but with incredible acting and great cinematography "Bullitt" has plenty of reasons to watch it. The video is good and the sound is okay...mixed with some great features, I definitely recommend "Bullitt."