New Line // R // $19.98 // January 14, 2003
Review by David Blair | posted January 11, 2003
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The Movie

It's funny how people's opinions of movies can vary so much. Many who see Bullet for the first time dismiss it as just another excuse to exploit violence, sex and profanity. Others love it no matter what, simply because their favorite rapper, the late Tupac Shakur, stars in it. Some think the plot is pointless, while others feel the execution of the story is excellent. Well, one thing that's certain is that this gritty movie pulls you into its powerful, albeit harsh, reality of life on the streets. And if you take a step back and look beyond the violence and brutality, you will see a movie about family, and the destructive capabilities that drug use can impose on it. Yes, at times the plot loses some of its focus by deviating from the real story, but overall it's a decent film. If director Julien Temple had focused more on Bullet's dysfunctional family, it would have been a much better movie.

Mickey Rourke plays "Bullet," a recently released convict who spent eight years in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Rourke, who co-wrote Bullet, plays a tough, laidback guy from the streets so perfectly, it's almost impossible to imagine anyone else performing this role any better. Throughout the film we follow Bullet as his life quickly self-destructs amidst blatant drug abuse and the forces of revenge inflicted by his drug-dealing nemesis "Tank," played convincingly by Shakur. And although Shakur's part is rather small for a headlining character, he makes his presence known with credible realism, though falling well short of Rourke's performance. But perhaps the best acting in the movie is given by Ted Levine, who plays Bullet's schizophrenic older brother, Louis. Louis is mentally ill and believes he is a member of an elite military Special Forces unit, dedicating half of his daily routine preparing for the next immanent battle. Levine's time on screen is almost always humorous and adds just the right amount of over-the-top antics, telling us that, yes, Bullet has one messed up family.

Aside from the acting, Bullet also shines brightly in its music. The songs throughout play as important a part in the movie as the main characters themselves, with some of the best songs coming from Barry White. After watching this movie, it's clear why the soundtrack was so successful back in 1997.

In summary, Bullet is a movie about street life, and how its consequences can affect a loving family. The movie is loosely based on the real life happenings of screenwriter Bruce Rubenstein, which may be why Bullet feels so real and cruel at the same time. Life is often presented in movies as a bunch of roses, and Bullet does a good job showing us the thorny side.


Video: New Line Home Entertainment gives us the rare choice of picking between two aspect ratios; Widescreen 1.85:1 and Full Screen 1.33:1. This is a welcome addition and should always be included on the disc if space allows. Also included is the choice between "rated" and "unrated" versions of the film.

Overall, the transfer looks great. New Line consistently produces high quality DVD's and Bullet is no exception. The picture is generally sharp and detailed, with no visible signs of edge enhancement. Colors are bright and accurate, and black levels look true, which is good, because a majority of this movie is filmed in the dark. There's really nothing to complain about, as this is an excellent video transfer.

Audio: The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. Besides the absence of any solid special features, this was probably the most disappointing aspect of the DVD. A gritty action movie like this deserves a 5.1 audio track. And although the stereo soundtrack does an adequate job of filling the sound field, I kept longing for the fuller sound that Dolby Digital 5.1 provides. But the included soundtrack isn't bad, as the music and dialogue come across clear and audible.

Menus: The menus are mostly static, with the major exception of the scene selections menu, which shows a moving video clip of each chapter. You can expect a stationary picture with a vague montage of movie moments being shown in the middle for most of the menus. Overall the menus are functional, but fail to dazzle or take that extra step in immersing you into the DVD.

Extras: This DVD is almost completely void of special features. The only inclusion is a five-minute "making of featurette" that shows a small glimpse into the story behind Bullet. This featurette is not very informative and should have been longer and more detailed. But as this was a straight-to-video release, I suppose getting at least one featurette is better than nothing.

Final Thoughts

Bullet was left on the shelf for a while before being released straight to video. So unless you rented or bought the VHS or Laserdisc, this may be the first opportunity for many to see the movie. Seeing Bullet on DVD was my first time ever viewing the movie, and I admit my expectations were very low, which may have helped lift my overall impressions in the end. And although I did enjoy the movie, I would probably suggest against buying this DVD unless you're a diehard fan of the movie or its actors. You don't really get any special features of any kind, so you had better like the movie, because that's all you get. But the movie is entertaining and offers an interesting look into the life of a dysfunctional family and the effects drugs can have on people with potential. So, Bullet is definitely worth checking out at least once.

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