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Code of Silence
Directed by Andrew Davis, Code Of Silence is one of Chuck Norris' better movies. Not only does it contain some seriously solid action set pieces and a fun supporting effort from the mighty Henry Silva, but it's able to tell a decent story too. Chuck's acting is no better or worse here than in any of his other projects, but no matter, this is one of those B-grade action movies where everything comes together nicely.
Norris plays a cop named Eddie Cusack who may not always do everything by the book but who is a legitimately honest man. When we meet him, he and a few other Chicago cops are about to take down the Comacho gang but when a rival gang shows up and opens fire, it all hits the fan. The two men in charge of the warring gangs, Tony Luna (Mike Genovese) and Luis Comacho (Henry Silva), basically declare open season on one another and Cusack and the rest of the cops need to work overtime to stop them from destroying the city.
Unfortunately, during the opening incident, a cop named Cragie (Ralph Foody) shoots an innocent bystander. His partner, made Cusack's partner when his own is shot, backs Cragie's story that the kid had a gun on him but Cusack is suspicious. As the gang war starts to reach a boil, Cusack has to deal with even more strife from within the department… good thing he's got a robot defense system called PROWLER to help him save the day, especially when Luna's daughter, Diana (Molly Hagan), winds up in trouble herself.
Code Of Silence starts off with a really strong opening action set piece and then rests for a bit to actually build a story before ramping things up once again in the last half of the film. As such, the film doesn't have as much non-stop punching, kicking and shooting as some of Norris' other films but it rarely feels short on action. The plus side here is that we instead get a much stronger story with some better writing and more interesting characters. The gang war aspect of the movie has been done before but there are a few good twists here, particularly involving the side of the story that focuses on the investigation into Cragie's actions.
Chuck's not going to win any awards for his performance here but he offers as much range and emotion as he ever really has before or since. He excels in the action scenes and does the tough guy things well. Henry Silva is great here as always, even if he's a little underused, while Molly Hagan does a fine job in the most substantial female role in the movie as the mouthy daughter of the mob boss. The inclusion of the goofy PROWLER robot is hokey and dates the film but otherwise, this is one that holds up well as a solid mix of action and police thriller with a game cast and some solid action set pieces.
Code Of Silence was previously released by MGM on Blu-ray back in 2012 and this transfer appears to be the same. The image, presented on a 50GB disc (though surprisingly taking up just over 26GBs of space as opposed to 33GBs on the MGM disc), is an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 and to be fair it looks very good but you have to wonder if a new scan wouldn't have made further improvements. Detail is noticeably improved over the DVD release from a few years ago (which was full frame) and color reproduction feels quite natural here. The film is grainy as it should be but doesn't suffer from any serious print damage, just the odd white speck here and there. Black levels are pretty good if not reference quality, and skin tones look nice and natural, there's no evidence of any noise reduction having been applied here. This isn't going to melt your eyes the way the latest and greatest mainstream blockbuster might but it is, overall, a very nice high definition presentation that brings out a lot more appreciable detail, texture and color than we've seen for this movie on home video in the past. But again, in a day and age where so many cult films are getting new 2k and even 4k scans, it would have been nice to see Code Of Silence get a facelift.Sound:
English language options are provide in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 options. Removable subtitles are available in English only. The MGM disc only carried a 2.0 mix, the 5.1 track here is new. It does a pretty decent job of spreading out the action when the movie calls for it, but for the most part this is a front heavy mix. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. There could have been more rear channel activity here and there but overall this presents a perfectly enjoyable listening experience.Extras:
There were no extras on the previous MGM release, but Kino's reissue is fairly stacked. Things start off with an audio commentary by director Andrew Davis. He starts off by talking about his early days working as a camera man for MGM. From there, he speaks quite candidly about shooting the film, working with Norris and some of the other cast members involved in the production, his thoughts on the story, locations used in the picture, staging some of the action set pieces and more. There is some occasional dead air here and there that drags on the pacing a bit, but for the most part Davis is pretty interesting to listen to and does a fine job of recalling his work on the film.
From there we move on to a series of interviews, starting with screenwriter Michael Butler. He speaks for ten minutes about where the idea for the story came from, how it was originally conceived as a possible Dirty Harry film until Eastwood put the screws to it, and how it was later resurrected as a possible vehicle for Kris Kristofferson before the lead wound up going to Norris. He then goes into some detail about how the finished version of the film differs from his original story and his feelings on the movie as a whole. Up next we talk to actor Ron Dean for ten minutes about his experiences working as an actor in Chicago. He then talks about working with Davis on the film and about interacting with some of the different co-stars he shared the screen with in this film. After that, actress Molly Hagen appears in front of the camera to discuss her work on the picture for thirteen minutes. She starts off with an amusing story about her audition before then going into some detail about her origins in Chicago, interactions with Chuck Norris (not all of which were pleasant) and a fair bit more. This is the best of the four interviews on the disc, Hagen is a great storyteller. The fourth and final interview gets composer David Michael Frank onboard to shar his experiences scoring the film for twelve minutes. He also talks about how he got into the business in the first place, some of the influences that found their way into his work and his thoughts on working with Andrew Davis.
Aside from that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
Code Of Silence holds up well, a great mix of action and suspense. This new Blu-ray reissue from Kino presents the film in nice shape (though without upgrading over the previous Blu-ray release) and with a generous selection of exclusive extra features, making this one worth double dipping on for fans of the film. 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.