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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 3/21/00

1999 (2000) - Warner Bros.

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

187 Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/B

Specs and Features

119 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1) on side A, 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1) on side B, dual-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, audio commentary (with director Kevin Reynolds, writer Scott Yagemann and stars Samuel L. Jackson and Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez), film-themed menu screens, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned

"The only thing you respect is stupidity. You willing to die for stupidity, Cesar? You see, I am, if it'll teach you something."

Samuel L. Jackson plays Trevor Garfield, a idealistic New York City school teacher who, in one horrifying moment, has everything he holds dear to him - his health, his ideals and his compassion - ripped right out of him by a student. What's a man to do when his life is so dramatically changed without his consent? Apparently learn from it and change into something else completely different -- in other words, adapt. Jump forward to sunny LA. The streets have different names, but the jungle is the same - and Trevor is back in the school system doing what he loves. When a new group of bad eggs threaten Trevor's status quo, he isn't planning on standing idly by waiting for them to do it. But will he have to do anything about it? When the leader of a savage crew of kids turns up dead, it seems Trevor has his work cut out for him. Or does he?

187 is a very dark morality tale. At the time of its release, it looked like the farthest thing from the truth we could ever get when it came to the American school system. Now, it's almost too light in its attitude. Jackson is really great here. This is one of his best characters, and he gets so into the man's head, that it's like you're not watching Sam act anymore. He's channeling. Even all the secondary characters are well represented. This is not some comic book vision... this could be the truth. A truth none of us want to see.

In terms of the story, I don't know if anyone can really say they "like" this film - how can they? It's disgusting, brutal and haunting. But it's also one of the most honest films I've ever seen. I admire this film, and I'm glad it's on DVD where it belongs.

The DVD is quite the little gem in and of itself. The colors of this transfer are incredibly deep and rich. The opening scenes in New York are colored an ethereal blue and the stuff in LA is a sun-drenched yellow and gold. The grain is light, the digital artifacting is non-existent and the contrast levels are dead on. This is a dead-eye disc in terms of video quality. Sound-wise, this film isn't all that thrilling, so don't expect the disc to blow you away. For what it does, it does the job well. On the extras side, there are two: the trailer and a brand new commentary track. The track features Jackson, his co-star Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez (his nemesis), director Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld) and writer/former teacher Scott Yagemann. The group presents the film very well, and their discussion is easy to listen to. Reynolds and Jackson pour some insight into the motivations and Yagemann gives his side of how real all this was and is. It's worth listening to. The trailer is your standard trailer, but it's here.

187 is something that's hard to watch, but once you make the decision to put it in, it grabs you so hard that you can't pull away. Like a screwdriver to the gut, this film has an impact that lasts long after you've slid the disc back into its case. If you have the stomach for truth, I suggest you pop this one in.

Todd Doogan

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