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The Quick and the Dead (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 5, 2009 by  



“A fresh Spaghetti Western film from 1995 that was like a mashup of what we enjoyed about gunfights from Westerns. The film features a female protagonist with an interesting group of characters.  Wild, fun and entertaining…’The Quick and the Dead’ is by no means a spectacular Western but a fun, and entertaining popcorn flick that fans will find worthy of owning on Blu-ray!”

Images courtesy of © 1995 TriStar/JSB Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Quick and the Dead

DURATION: 105 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: TriStar/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (for Western Violence)

Release Date: September 15, 2009

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Simon Moore

Executive Producer by Toby Jaffe, Robert G. Tapert

Produced by Joshua Donen, Patrick Markey, Allen Shapiro

Co-Produced by Chuck Binder and Sharon Stone

Music by Alan Silvestri

Cinematography by Dante Spinotti

Edited by Pietro Scalia

Production Design by Patrizia von Brandenstein

Art Direction by Steve Saklad

Set Decoration by Hilton Rosemarin, Brian Stewart

Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky

Starring:

Sharon Stone as Ellen “The Lady”

Gene Hackman as John Herod

Russell Crowe as Cort

Leonardo DiCaprio as Fee Herod “The Kid”

Tobin Bell as Dog Kelly

Roberts Blossom as Doc Wallace

Kevin Conway as Eugene Dred

Keith David as Sgt. Clay Cantrell

Lance Henriksen as Ace Hanlon

Pat Hingle as Horace

Gary Sinise as The Marshal

Mark Boone Junior as Scars

In this edgy and darkly humorous Western, a mysterious young woman rides into the lawless town of Redemption to settle an old score that has haunted her since she was a child. She becomes swept up in a deadly quick-draw tournament and, in order to win her revenge, must compete in a contest in which gunslingers from all over put their lives on the line for fame and fortune.

In 1995, then-blossoming director Sam Raimi (who went on to direct the “Spider-Man” and “The Evil Dead” films) and writer Simon Moore (“Traffic”) worked on their first Western.  Joined by composer Alan Silvestri (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “Beowulf”, “Night at the Museum” and “The Mummy” films) and cinematographer Dante Spinotti (“X-Men: The Last Stand”, “The Family Man” and “Red Dragon”), the crew set out to create a unique western that has never been done before.

“The Quick and the Dead” featured an all-star cast which included the sexy Sharon Stone (“Basic Instinct”, “Sliver”, “Bobby” and “Catwoman”), the legendary actor Gene Hackman (“Unforgiven”, “Crimson Tide”, “The Replacements”, “Heist”, “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Runaway Jury”) and two actors that would become popular a few years after the release of this film, Russel Crowe (“Gladiator”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Cinderella Man”, “American Gangster”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“Titanic”, “The Departed”, “Bood Diamond”, “Gangs of New York”).

The film revolves around a woman named Ellen (Sharon Stone) aka “Lady”, a woman that is quick with her gun and not much of a talker.    She enters a small town known as Redemption and quite literally she’s on a mission.  Ellen is in search of a man who was responsible for her father’s death.

While at this town, she quickly notices that the place has no Marshal (the current Marshal has been killed and the Marshal’s office has been burned and destroyed) and by no means is this town peaceful. Prostitution is rampant, criminals are known to be staying in the area and the town happens to be run by a ruthless outlaw named John Herod.  To say the least, the citizens in town pay this outlaw a lot of money for “protection” and townspeople have tried to find someone to kill him to no avail.

While one night at a saloon, Ellen learns that there is a shoot-out competition taking place.  A competition of who can be the last person standing in a shootout competition and it would feature the best competitors around, all vying for a significant monetary grand prize.

She sees the cocky young criminal known as “The Kid” (DiCaprio), known for his quick draw; an Indian named Spotted Horse (Jonothon Gill) who has been shot many times and has survived each time; a lecherous man named Gold Teeth Man (Scott Spiegel) who is the town pedophile; a murderous criminal named Scars who was released from prison and has resumed his killing spree; the boisterous Ace Hanlon (Lance Henriksen) who looks suave and has bragged about his many kills; a man named Sgt. Clay Cantrell (Keith David) who is one of the few Black men in the film known for his gun shooting and a few others who take part in the competition.

But its when one of the most feared men in the town, the outlaw who runs the town named John Herod (Gene Hackman) comes into the saloon that people around look as if they are in fear.  The people who know of him, know that he is the best gun shooters around.

For John Herod’s entertainment, his men bring in a man who is gagged, chained and beaten.  A man who once worked for Herod and has become a preacher.  His name is Cort (Russell Crowe) and Herod demands he partake in the competition.  Cort may have been great with guns and once a killer but he has no plans to do so.  So, in order for Herod to make him partake in the competition is to threaten him.  Under Herod’s orders, his men put Cort in a noose while standing on a wooden chair.

Seeing this, Ellen has memories of her father, a former Marshal being treated in a similar way and knows that Herod is the man she is after.

Herod shoots the chair and gives Cort a chance to change his mind, in which he doesn’t.  Not wanting to see this man die, Ellen volunteers to be part of the competition which John objects to because she’s a woman but when Herod tries to shoot the chair once more to kill Cort, Ellen immediately shoots the noose preventing Cort’s death and showing off her gun shooting skills.

The competition to win a large amount of money will be held, but as many fight for the money, Ellen wants one thing…to be the last person left standing in order to get her revenge against the feared outlaw, John Herod.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Quick and the Dead” receives its first HD release on Blu-ray.  Featured in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), the film for the most part captures that Western feel and at times, the picture quality showcases the grit of the West.  From Sharon Stone’s blue eyes to gold in the the teeth of some of the people in the town, there are times that the picture quality looks very good especially since this is a 15-year-old film.

But there are times when the picture quality just looks bad.  In one scene during a discussion between Ellen and Cort and when it focuses on her, the film looks as if the the low light added so much noise around the film.  Fortunately, this segment is short.  The other thing is that the film in high definition also does make certain CG segments a bit unreal (ie. a tremendous hole in the middle of one’s head).

But for the most part, the film does look good for a film back in 1995.  And happy to know that Sony has decided not to use DNR (digital noise reduction) and kept the grain intact.

As for the audio, “The Quick and the Dead” sounds awesome.  The lossless audio really takes advantage of the surround channels.  I was pretty impressed because it’s one thing to get the clear dialogue and the gun shots from the front and center channels (and gun shots zipping  through the surround channels)  but there a good amount of scenes that really utilize the surround channels and some of those booms are not just short, some actually linger.  I also noticed a bit of LFE, so for the most part, the audio for “The Quick and the Dead” was pretty solid. Not reference quality but for a 1995 film, it sounds great.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Quick and the Dead” comes with only one special feature (aside from the trailers) and that is the film is presented in movieIQ.  For those with Blu-ray players that are BD-Live enabled, you can watch the film while a panel on the side can be accessed via your remote with information about the cast, crew, music and production.

“The Quick and the Dead” is by no means the greatest Western, nor is it the best.  But what it does well is trying to accomplish something different by capturing the look and feel of a spaghetti Western, but also making the protagonist a female surrounded by an interesting group of characters.

Sharon Stone is absolutely beautiful in this film and the film wasn’t created that long after “Basic Instinct”.  She was one of America’s top, sexiest female leads and it was interesting to see her in a film that captures that beauty and sexiness but also has a hint of danger around her.   I suppose its up to the viewer if she was a win or fail for the film but for the most part, the concept of a female protagonist was definitely enjoyable to see in this film.  It’s also important to note that this was the first film that Sharon Stone co-produced.

As for the other talent, Gene Hackman is just solid in any Western.  The film was made a few years after his Academy Award winning appearance in the classic Western “Unforgiven” and he seemed as a natural playing the antagonist in “The Quick and the Dead”.  As for Russell Crowe, he was still an unknown in the US despite being popular in Australia and Asia (especially in Japan for his other 1995 film “No Way Back”) and Leonardo DiCaprio was starting to emerge after his Academy Award nominated performance in the 1993 film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” and plays a young man quick with his gun but all he has wanted was respect from his outlaw father John Herod.

The film also had interesting behind-the-scenes information (probably why there are no special features included on the Blu-ray) in regard to Sharon Stone starring in the film only if Sam Raimi directed and writer Simon Moore being fired and then rehired to fix a script written by writer Tom Sayles but instead of fixing it, omitted Sayles work completely and gave him his own rewrite.  It’s important to note that Sony at the time was against Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio to be in the film that Sharon Stone was the one who fought for Crowe to be in the film and because of Sony not wanting DiCaprio for the film, Stone paid him out of her own pocket.

If anything, I felt that Raimi did a fine job with this film because no matter what was going to happen, there would be viewers that don’t necessarily have female gunslingers in their minds as the main protagonist.  Sure, the gunfights may be cliche and the screenplay may not be deep and engaging, but “The Quick and the Dead” was not a film I was expecting to be the next “Unforgiven” nor was I expecting anything remotely close to a Clint Eastwood or John Wayne film either.

Overall, “The Quick and the Dead” was a wild, fun and entertaining film that may not have been a financial success in the box office nor was it a film that received many positive responses from the critics, but it was one of those films that people didn’t take seriously and wanted a Western popcorn flick to enjoy and be entertained.  For those who want to see a different kind of Western on Blu-ray, you may want to give this film a chance.






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