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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Seven Five
The Seven Five
MPI Home Video // R // September 15, 2015
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 1, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Tiller Russell's documentary The Seven Five tells the true story of a handful of cops working out of the seventy-fifth precinct in New York City, specifically in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. At this point in the city's history, crime and murder were at record highs and East New York and its surrounding neighborhoods were dealing with the crack epidemic. Things were bad, and some of the cops that were supposed to be cleaning things up weren't making the situation any better.

Michael Dowd was the ringleader. He hadn't been on the force very long when he started to learn it wasn't that hard for someone in his situation to dip into confiscated cash or drugs lifted by the NYPD from various crime scenes. Soon enough, he and his new partner Ken Eurell had a good thing going. They were dipping into whatever they wanted and then, when by chance Dowd discovered a car stereo shop with ties to local drug dealers, he came up with an idea. He talked to the owner, a guy named Baron, and through him got in touch with the ringleader of La Compania, one of the biggest drug syndicates around, to offer protection. For eight grand a week he and Ken would alert them of any raids and keep the competition off the streets and out of their territory. When the first payment came in short, that relationship ended.

Shortly afterwards, however, Dowd and Eurell hooked up with a Dominican dealer named Adam Diaz who was literally moving millions of dollars of cocaine in and around East New York every month. Diaz quickly learned the value of having Dowd and Eurell on the payroll as they took out rival dealers and kept the heat off of him so he could do business without police interference. As they started making more money and as Dowd starting dipping into his own coke stash, things quickly got out of hand and as the two started expanding into nearby Long Island suburbs, it was only a matter of time until Internal Affairs caught up with them. And they did. We won't spoil exactly how that happens, because that would ruin a fascinating ending to a really interesting documentary, but it's pretty wild to hear how all of this played out.

This one is pretty fast paced and it covers a lot of ground but it does so quite well. By interviewing the actual people involved in the case (not only Dowd and Durell but also Diaz, some of their cohorts, Baron and some of the Internal Affairs guys) we get a pretty well rounded explanation of how this all went down and it's fascinating stuff. There's enough of a back story here as to who Dowd and Durell were in their early days to set up their time on the NYPD and the documentary also does a good job of explaining the bond that existed between the two men and how their lives tended to mirror one another during these years in terms marriage, kids and social standing.

The movie also goes to great lengths to explain the importance of the so-called ‘code of silence.' Cops depend on one another while out in the field and it's important that they know they've got each other's backs when it hits the fan. As such, cops do not tend to rat on other cops. That is a theme that the movie goes back to time and time again and it really is sort of the impetus behind how and why Dowd and Durell were able to be so successful for so long doing what they were doing.

At the same time, the movie stops short of damning the men. It allows them, in their own words, to talk about their wives, their kids, their camaraderie and obviously their flaws. This presents them as they should be presented: human. As this was shot recently and more than two decades have passed all interviewed on camera are able to look back at things with both insight and hindsight. This also allows them to express regret. What they did was wrong, there's no doubt about that, but the story behind how and why they did it is fascinating stuff.

Note: Sensitive viewers may want to know ahead of time that this documentary does use quite a bit of graphic crime scene footage and photography to help build its case.

The DVD:

Video:

The Seven Five arrives on DVD from IFC in 1.78.1 anamorphic transfer that looks alright when you consider how this was assembled. The newly shot video footage of the interviews looks great, showing nice colors and perfectly fine detail. The archival footage, much of which is taken from eighties and early nineties era news casts and various stock footage sources, is all over the place. Some of it is in nice shape, some of it is not. This is perfectly acceptable in the context of the story being told, however, so you shouldn't consider it a detriment. There are no problems with compression artifacts or authoring quirks.

Sound:

The only audio option for the feature is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track and given that most of the documentary is made up of talking head and interview type footage, it's surprisingly active. The score is spread around well and sound effects are actually placed quite cleverly throughout the mix. Like the video portion of the disc, the archival material is a little worse for wear but that's to be expected. Otherwise the audio here is just fine. Optional English closed captioning is provided.

Extras:

Outside of a static menu and chapter selection we get a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other IFC properties (that play before the menu loads).

Final Thoughts:

The Seven Five is pretty intense stuff, a definite warts and all look at how corruptions and dishonestly can and does warp peoples' minds. It's a well-paced, interesting and compelling true crime story told with unflinching and gritty honesty. The DVD looks and sounds fine and even if its' short on extras, this is worth seeing. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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