Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Bonded By Blood (2010)

Release Date: February 1st 2011

LABEL: Revolver Entertainment
RATING: Unrated
DIRECTOR: Sacha Bennet
TAGLINE: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Fucking Truth!

CAST: Vincent Regan, Tamer Hassan, Dave Legeno, Adam Deacon PLOT: In 1995, drug suppliers and career criminals Tony Tucker, Patrick Tate and Craig Rolfe were blasted to death by a shot gun whilst waiting in a Range Rover in Rettendon, Essex. BONDED BY BLOOD charts their rise to becoming the most prolific drug dealers and feared criminals in the south of England, maintaining the hold on their empire with fear and violence until their untimely death.

FILM: BONDED BY BLOOD is a British crime thriller based on the 2006 memoir written by Bernard O'Mahoney detailing the rise and fall of three British drug peddlers found slain in a Range Rover on a snowy road in Essex, England. Apparently the real-life events were quite the to-do in 1995 as there are a handful of books and no-less than three films about the infamous Essex Boys.

The film begins with a blast, several actually, as two men armed with 12 gauge shotguns plug several large holes into Darren (Deacon). What has led to this brutal event? The following 92 minutes inform us what brought this bit of violence up him in a fractured bit of narrative as told by Darren. Before you know it were back a few years earlier as Darren is serving out a short prison term when he aligns himself with smuggler extraordinaire Mickey Steele (Regan) and his muscle man Jack Whomes (Legeno). Soon after the trio align themselves with yet another trio comprised of the hulking drug peddler Pat Tate (Hassan), and the fast-talking Tony Tucker (Stone) and Craig Rolf (Maskell) and form an alliance that develops into a successful drug peddling ring once outside the prison walls. What follows is a fast-paced telling of their rise to power and grisly deaths. Steele's trio smuggles the drugs into the country and Tate and Tucker peddle their wares while consuming a great number of the narcotics themselves. Their a nasty and brutal bunch of blokes that terrorize the drug addled underworld. Stone as the vile Tucker is a site to behold as he chews up the scenery like Britain's own Tony Montana. Hassan as the brutish Tate is no softie either and spends most of the film coked outta of his mind. In quick order the two trios find themselves at odds resulting in each looking to wipe the other off the face of the Earth. Who do we as viewers root for? The best we get is the snot-nosed Darren and the smuggler with a heart of gold Steele. What soft spot we have for these character is short-lived though.

Is this a great gangster flick? No, its too flashy and the script is shallow. The dialogue while snappy loses it's potency when the turn of a phrase is lost in the thick Cockney translations and the characters are just downright unlikable which is probably pretty damn accurate so I guess that's an unfair critique. I must say that this film does for "cunt" what SCARFACE (1983) did for "fuck". On the plus side its thick with vulgarity, spotted with nudity and there's no shortage of the ultra-violence. If you're looking for action, drugs, stabbings, shootings, whores, and dueling egos it's got it. Plus it doesn't glamorize the filth that peddles drugs either.

DVD: Bonded By Blood is presented in a sweet looking 16x9 enhanced 2.35: aspect ratio transfer with the option of a 2.0 stereo or more robust 5.1 surround sound. Great image quality, nice and crisp. I bet this would look fantastic on Blu-ray with  TrueHD 5.1 surround. No subtitle option which is a shame as  a lot of the dialogue is delivered in rapid fire Cockney and I'm sure I missed a few tasty bit of dialogue. That said, the word "cunt" was quite clear and well enunciated throughout the entire length of the film. A generous amount of bonus features are included, mostly fun and spirited featurettes plus a decent feature-length commentary.

- Commentary with Sacha Bennett, Terry Stone and Dan Toland (96:06)

- Cast and Crew interviews (12:41)
- Interview with Bernard O’Mahoney (9:02)
- Behind-The-Scenes Featurette (3:11)
- B-Roll footage (21:58)
- Bonded By Blood premiere and after-party (2:06)
- The C Word (0:56)
- Welcome To Tony Tucker’s Mansion (1:45)

VERDICT: BONDED BY BLOOD is a nasty slice of British gangster cinema that's a bit slick and short on substance but not substance abuse. I give it a Red Box or Netflix  recommendation. Slick though it may be it's good fun and has a tasty soundtrack. Worth the price of admission if only for image Tate grabbing a hand-job from a whore dressed in a nurse's uniform while driving a high speed in gold Porsche. Wonderful.
**1/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars)