No Man's Land Blu-ray Review
Ferrari? Cheap Italian trash. I only steal Porsches.
This precursor to Point Break and, in turn, The Fast and The Furious, is an 80s Porsche-centric GTA gem that makes the most of an eager early-era Charlie Sheen.Director Peter Werner's adaptation of cop procedural screenwriter Dick Wolf's No Man's Land is, in retrospect, undeniably the progenitor for Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break and, in turn - more obviously - Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious. The addicted-to-the-thrill undercover cop who falls in love with the sister of the leader of a gang of robbers he's investigating core is plain for everybody to see, as is the blur between right and wrong, the thrill and rush of (in this case) fast cars, and the deadly chases and dangerous crimes, with Sheen's charismatic antagonist just as clear a precursor to those Swayze and Diesel would go on to portray.Although a young D.B. Sweeney is the protagonist, it's hard not to watch the film purely for Sheen's devilish rogue, with the actor still burning with a desire to take on varied roles and actually play characters. It may not have been a desperate stretch, but it was still a comparatively unusual role for him, and, much like the actors who would adopt the position in future iterations, he made the wrong side of the law look so much more exciting than Sweeney's goofy doe-eyed goody-goody did the right side. Punctuated by some rare and fun Porsche racing/chasing sequences, it's a solid 80s gem that's worth investigating.
Picture QualityKino Lorber deliver No Man's Land onto Region A-locked US Blu-ray with a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation that makes the most of its limited-budget 80s source material. It's not always a particularly pretty affair, and probably could have done with a new 2K or 4K remaster, but the fact we're getting the movie on Blu-ray at all is probably the most anybody could have hoped for.
The fact we're getting the movie on Blu-ray at all is probably the most anybody could have hoped for
Detail is strong enough, far from perfect, but affording warm texturing for the close ups, with solid facial detailing and a suitably obsessive look at the beautiful cars on offer, shimmering in all their glory. There's a reasonably consistent and eminently natural sheen of grain that gives the piece a textured, organic look, even at the expense of the kind of clarity we've come to expect from modern productions, and there are thankfully scant signs of damage or defects in the rendering of this transfer.
The colour scheme makes the most of the sun-drenched LA locations, with warm nights and gorgeous sunsets, as well as a warm glow that pervades the daytime sequences and - of course - that inimitable smog-derived thickness that only adds to the texturing. Black levels are strong and solid enough, and with only a little blocking and a hint of crush, it's likely as good a vision of this film as we're ever going to get, and it's good enough.
Sound QualityThe accompanying audio track is solid but also has its problems, only truly benefiting from a synth-tastic score from Basil Poledouris that propels the piece in times of action, maintains the tension skillfully, and gives the movie a dark, edgy feel that enhances it no end.
The score adds a whole new dimension to the film
Whilst a 5.1 remix would have been welcome, the original stereo mix, as provided by this DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, is a decent affair, promoting dialogue clearly across the frontal array. Effects are a little clunky, but serviceable for the most part, only really faltering in the more high octane moments where things can get slightly tinny - not wholly unusual for this kind of calibre of 80s thriller. Really, it is that score that gives the piece its grandest, most expansive feel, offering a welcome, moody atmosphere that turns into a synth-driven ticking clock for the more tense action sequences and adds a whole new dimension to the film.
ExtrasKino go out of their way to deliver a decent selection of extras for a film that could have quite easily - and quite justifiably - ended up on a bare-bones release. It's not comprehensive, but it's strong enough to please fans, offering up a fair amount of welcome background into the production and the cast.
Given the niche nature of the film, the disc boasts a decent selection of extras
Headlined by a strong Commentary by film historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson - who have gone above and beyond in their research into the minutiae and trivia behind the film, the two quarter-hour accompanying Interviews are likely to garner more interest. Sweeney's contribution is fun and enthusiastic, fondly reminiscing about his work on the film, the trouble behind-the-scenes, and Sheen's energy and burgeoning star power (Platoon was released to great acclaim just a few months earlier), but the best addition is the Interview with director Peter Werner, who was injected into the film mid-production, taking over from acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher (who suffered a largely abortive Hollywood career thereafter), having to integrate himself with the already-formed cast and crew, and somehow still put his mark on the piece. There's a slightly bitter edge to his discussions about how the film inspired The Fast and The Furious (although, it's not unjustified), but that only makes the interview all the more interesting, making you wonder whether a full Commentary from him wouldn't have been an even better extra. The disc is rounded off by the Theatrical Trailer.
Blu-ray VerdictA solid 80s gem that's worth investigating or re-discovering
Before Charlie Sheen started to let his ego write cheques that his body couldn't cash, he actually picked - and, more importantly, committed to - some pretty diverse roles, and this is one of those rare early era efforts where he really embraced a part that, whilst not wholly out of his comfort zone, also was far from just Charlie Sheen playing Charlie Sheen. Strong Porsche-based action, an edgy score and some solid, tense beats, leave this a fun little GTA thriller that's worth hunting down. This US Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber is far from perfect but it's probably the best we can expect given the film's niche appeal.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.