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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans(2009)
A rogue detective is as devoted to his job as he is at scoring drugs -- while playing fast and loose with the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves. Together they descend into their own world marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience.
For more about Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and the Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray release, see the Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray Review
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Fairuza Balk, Val Kilmer
Director: Werner Herzog
» See full cast & crew
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 11, 2010
Winner of the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Award at the Venice Film Festival, Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Lionsgate Films. The supplemental features on the disc include a making of featurette and a collection of interviews with director Werner Herzog, cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, writer Billy Finkelstein, and actors Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, and Tom Bower. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Though the title of Werner Herzog's latest film reminds about Abel Ferrara's 1992 cult classic Bad Lieutenant, there are few similarities between the two films, if any at all. In Ferrara's film Harvey Keitel plays a cynical New York City cop whose life is slowly falling apart. He is an abusive father, drug addict, drunk, and sex addict whose heart and soul have literally been consumed by evil. Keitel's character realizes it, which is why he constantly punishes himself.
In Herzog's film Nicolas Cage plays a bad cop with a good heart who lives among hopeless people who are slowly chipping away at his soul. The cop has also lost hope and started taking drugs. His girlfriend (Eva Mendez), a beautiful prostitute, is a drug addict as well.
Herzog's film is set in New Orleans, a city with a rich history which has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This is a depressing place to live in - many businesses have left the area and homes have been abandoned. A few nightclubs have reopened but drug dealers have taken over the streets and started challenging each other.
A family of Senegalese illegal immigrants is brutally murdered, and the cop is asked to solve the case. Before he even begins his investigation, however, he knows that drugs are to be blamed for the tragedy. There is a witness, an African-American kid (Denzel Whitaker) who has seen the killer, but he is afraid to talk.
After a quick visit to the District Attorney's Office, the cop realizes that if he loses the kid the killer will never be brought to justice. Because he does not trust anyone, including his colleagues, he decides to take the kid with him - and loses him, while trying to help his girlfriend, who has been mistreated by a sadistic client.
The cop then befriends one of the area's biggest drug dealers (Alvin 'Xzibit' Joiner), who may or may not have ordered the execution of the Senegalese family. The two are going to be partners - the cop will provide the drug dealer with valuable information and occasionally valuable product from the Police Department's evidence and property room, such as coke and heroine, while the drug dealer will help him solve some personal problems, such as outstanding debts and mafia goons looking to hurt the cop and have fun with his girlfriend.
Even though the plot description suggests otherwise, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is not a film about cops and drug dealers. In fact, the film's plot is very much irrelevant. What director Herzog has attempted to accomplish with Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is capture the pulse of a city which is trying to recover from an incredible catastrophe.
Like the film's main protagonist, however, New Orleans is seriously hurt. Its residents are seen moving around, shopping, barbecuing, some even following their favorite football team again, but something does not feel right. Hurricane Katrina has changed everything, and the majority of the people who have returned to New Orleans have simply lost hope. Few of them are also clean - most either drink heavily or take drugs.
Herzog has always been an incredibly difficult director to figure out, and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans certainly proves that he still sees what most people can't. Throughout the film his camera spends a great deal of time observing streets littered with garbage where dealers are selling whatever it is they have to sell, power brokers, corrupted cops, strangers who are on their way to take care of something. It isn't pretty, but this is life, which has reluctantly returned to New Orleans.
Note: In 2009, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans won the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Award (Werner Herzog) at the Venice Film Festival. The film also received Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (Nicolas Cage).
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Lionsgate Films.
This is a solid high-definition transfer - and one that also looks drastically different from the high-definition transfer First Look Studios used for their Blu-ray release of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans in the United States. For example, fine object detail is notably better, particularly during the many indoor close-ups; clarity is also substantially improved, with many of the dark outdoor scenes looking fresher and sharper; contrast levels are also better. Aside from being different, the color-scheme is also superior. On the Region-A Blu-ray release of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans the blacks are weak, often notably pale; here they are better saturated and looking healthy. The prominent bluish tint from the Region-A release has also been replaced with a variety of rich browns and natural soft greens. Edge-enhancement is not an issue of concern; neither is macroblocking. I also did not detect any traces of strong compression artifacts. There are no traces of heavy noise reduction either. Lastly, blown through a digital projector the high-definition transfer conveys wonderful depth and pleasing tightness. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only on audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Lionsgate Films have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid. Though not overly active the bass is potent, the rear channels intelligently used, and the high-frequencies not overdone. Generally speaking, there is a good range of dynamics that enhance the narrative rather well. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Mark Isham's music score either. Lastly, while viewing the film I did not hear any annoying pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review. The English SDH subtitles, however, appear just a tad too big for my taste.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Making of "Bad Lieutenant" - a standard featurette focusing on the shooting of the film in New Orleans. The featurette contains an abundance of raw footage (as well as very graphic footage) and comments from director Werner Herzog and various cast and crew members. In English, without optional English subtitles. (32 min).
Interviews - a collection of interviews with director Werner Herzog and cast and crew members in which they discuss their work, the message of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, what it was like to shoot in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, etc. In English, without optional English subtitles.
-- Werner Herzog (15 min).
-- Nicholas Cage (6 min).
-- Eva Mendes (3 min).
-- Tom Bower (2 min).
-- Peter Zeitlinger (5 min).
-- Billy Finkelstein (3 min).
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I can only begin to imagine what New Orleans must have looked like after Hurricane Katrina hit and its evacuated residents started heading back to their abandoned homes. It must have been an incredibly depressing place. A lot of people probably gave up once they got there. I know a couple that simply chose not to go back. Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans recreates that uneasy transitional period during which people struggled enormously and some ended up making some bad decisions. Like Nicolas Cage's character.
The Blu-ray release herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors Lionsgate Films, looks and sounds very good. In fact, it is superior to its North American counterpart. Naturally, if you are looking to add Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans to your libraries and can play Region-B "locked" discs, I strongly suggest that you opt for this disc. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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