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review added: 8/13/02



Jackie Brown
Collector's Edition - 1997 (2002) - Miramax (Buena Vista)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Jackie Brown: Collector's Edition Film Rating: A

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

Specs and Features

Disc One: The Film
154 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom keep case packaging with slipcase, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:18:49 in chapter 14), Quentin Tarantino video introduction, enhanced trivia subtitle track, Pulp Fiction DVD promo, Jackie Brown soundtrack promo, liner notes booklet, mini exploitation poster, DVD-ROM features (including script-to-screen, trivia game and screensavers), animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English (DD & DTS 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: The Perks
Jackie Brown: How it Went Down documentary, A Look Back at Jackie Brown video interview with Quentin Tarantino, Chicks with Guns video, 6 deleted and alternate scenes with introduction by Quentin Tarantino, Jackie Brown on MTV footage, Siskel and Ebert At the Movies film review, 3 theatrical trailers, archival trailers for the films of Pam Grier and Robert Forster, filmographies for Tarantino, Robert Forster and Pam Grier, 8 TV spots, 9 still galleries, 10 film reviews, 8 film articles, Pam Grier radio spots, animated menu screens with sound, languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none


So far, Jackie Brown is my favorite of Tarantino's films. I mean, Pulp Fiction is impressive and Reservoir Dogs knocked my socks off, but Jackie just seems, I dunno, original to me. Funny, considering it's based on Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch. But that consideration aside, Jackie Brown is as much Tarantino's as it is Leonard's. They're Leonard's characters, but they live in Tarantino's world and, for the first time, Tarantino seems confident enough to let his characters live on their own terms, rather than float around on his whims.

In Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, there is a showy puppet aspect. The characters are cool, the situations are novel and the dialogue is crisp, but it seems posed. You can see the strings and the character's strides are in that Thunderbirds marionette style. Jackie, on the other hand, moves with confidence, not bravado. There is nothing posed about the characters in this film. They walk, they talk and they are exactly what you're seeing and never what you're expecting. A lot of this is because of the script by Tarantino, a lot of this is the direction by Tarantino, and a lot of this is the characters created by Leonard, but most of it is the casting and the acting. Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Sam Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton - this is a bad ass cast, and every one of these actors live up to the film.

Here's the story in brief. Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a down on her luck, middle-aged flight attendant for a low-rung Mexican airline. She also works as a "mule" for the violently unhinged arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), bringing stacks of cash back from a Mexican money launderer. Through no fault of her own, Jackie gets picked up by the ATF and they want Ordell. Not knowing if Jackie talked or not, Ordell uses bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to get her out of jail and drills her on whether she rolled for the cops or not. But she comes clean and even helps hatch a plan to get Ordell all of his money back from Mexico. Or does she? Using a rather elaborate plan, Jackie plays sides against each other until even the audience isn't sure whether or not Jackie is being played herself... or if she will even get out of her plans alive. Pepper the story with a wild array of beautifully well-drawn characters, supported by some of the industries best character actors, and you have a super film told by a super filmmaker.

On DVD, Jackie shines. This is a good-looking transfer. The color representation is dead on, blacks are solid and there's nary a digital artifact to be found. The anamorphic widescreen picture is clean and looks like it came from a very well handled negative. Disney should be proud. Sound representation is much like the new special edition of Pulp Fiction, with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks for your aural pleasure. I fancy the DTS track over the DD, but both are very dynamic and quite active. Exploitation music never sounded this good.

Extras are pretty impressive as well. Again, like Pulp Fiction, there is no commentary track. But there is an informative text-based trivia track that serves just as nicely. But be warned, some pressings of this DVD are flawed, in that the information doesn't synch up with the picture (the subtitle stream loses sync between Chapters 10 & 11). If your DVD is flawed, Buena Vista will replace your copy when the new discs are available. Call the Buena Vista Customer Service hotline at 1-800-477-2811, follow their instructions and they'll get a new disc out to you.

Unlike Fiction, Jackie has a nice little video introduction about the film from Tarantino himself. It shows that even though Fiction gave him his career, he must have an extra soft spot in his heart for Jackie - and he knows his fans do as well. Also included on the first disc are the requisite DVD-ROM features, including the script-to-screen function and a fun trivia game where you watch the film and answer trivia questions as they come up in the movie, earning money as you go.

Disc Two is a lot more informative. There's a super bad-ass documentary about the making of the film. I liked it a lot. Using interviews and production footage we learn just about everything you need to know about the movie, the characters and the filmmakers - and it's done in a nice fun way. Fans of this film are quick to become fans of the film's two stars Pam Grier and Robert Forster. Well, the archives have opened up on them with filmographies and a very nice (and very large) selection of trailers from just about all of their collective films. You get stacks of trailers from exploitations' greatest films, as well as radio spots advertising Pam Grier films. It's mouth watering.

Also included on Disc Two is a very long video interview with Tarantino called: A Look Back at Jackie Brown. It's informative, but Tarantino seems awfully tired here. And, as I mentioned, it's very long and seemingly unedited with a giddy interviewer off-camera. Fans of Chicks with Guns can look forward to an uninterrupted feed of the video from the film, which is nice. There are six deleted and alternate scenes with an introduction by writer/director Quentin Tarantino. For the most part, these are unnecessary. The film is long enough and they deserved to be cut, but it's nice to finally see these. TRL fans have a promo spot and clips from the cast and crew's appearance on MTV in the Jackie Brown on MTV footage. Tarantino supporters Siskel and Ebert favorably review Jackie Brown and the vaults bottom out with three theatrical trailers, eight TV spots, nine still and poster art galleries, ten film reviews and eight film articles. That's a LOT of material.

Jackie Brown on DVD has a lot of well put together material that you can take time and browse for days. It's the definitive homage to exploitation films of the 70s, complete with a definitive look back at an era spot lit by the careers of Pam Grier and Robert Forster. Disney did a great job here, I highly recommend picking this DVD up as soon as you can.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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