187 (One Eight Seven) (1997)

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Released 15-May-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 114:10
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kevin Reynolds
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Samuel L. Jackson
John Heard
Kelly Rowan
Clifton Collins, Jr.
Tony Plana
Karina Arroyave
Lobo Sebastian
Jack Kehler
Jonah Rooney
Demetrius Navarro
Ebony Monique Solomon
Ioannis Bogris
Dominic Hoffman
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Darling
Liam Howlett
DJ Shadow


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is a caring and dedicated science teacher in a New York high school when he is attacked and repeatedly stabbed by a student. Fifteen months later Trevor has relocated to Los Angeles and is about to commence a relief teaching job although his physical and mental scars are by no means completely healed. At the new school Trevor quickly finds there are disruptive and abusive students and gang related violence, especially by the gang led by Benny Chacon (Lobo Sebastian) and Cesar Sanchez (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez). As Trevor struggles he receives advice from history teacher Dave Childress (John Heard), who has his own methods of coping, and he meets computer teacher Ellen Henry (Kelly Rowan) who is being threatened by Benny and his cohorts.

     “187” is the penal code statute dealing with murder / homicide, the number that students scrawl on teacher’s books or spray on their doors to tell teachers that they will be killed. 187, the film (or One Eight Seven as per the title card), is not one of those films like To Sir With Love (1967) or any number of other films where a teacher takes on delinquents and changes their attitudes. Instead a title card at the end of 187 tells us that 1 in 9 teachers have been attacked by students at school and that, in fact, the script was written by a teacher (Scott Yagemann). If this film shows his experiences of the U.S. teaching system, it is a wonder anyone becomes a teacher at all. At best the students are indifferent and disruptive, at worst intimidating, abusive, violent and threatening; in the film students totally destroy classrooms and kill the pet dog of one teacher. Teachers get no protection or support from the school administration or the justice system; in fact the system works against teachers with threats of legal action by students taken seriously by the school principal. Teachers in this system are powerless unless, it is implied, they take the law into their own hands but even this, as the disturbing conclusion to the film shows, is no answer either.

     187 is a bleak and distressing film directed by Kevin Reynolds who is better known for his earlier films with Kevin Costner, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and Waterworld (1995). Here he does a reasonable job but uses a range of flashy camera tricks such as shots deliberately out of focus, quick zooms, changing contrast and colour palates and a continuously circling camera that are obvious and draw attention to themselves. These techniques were most likely intended to add to the film’s sense of disorientation and tension but in truth the subject matter of the film is disturbing enough without these additional tricks. However, the film is brilliantly served by the central performance of Samuel L. Jackson. His Trevor is a flawed and hurt man, betrayed by the system that disempowers teachers. Jackson plays Trevor quietly and without histrionics, his stillness masking his pain within, a caring man trying to help even one disadvantaged student (Rita played by Karina Arroyave) better herself and escape from the cycle of poverty and violence. His tentative developing friendship with Ellen is also beautifully and subtly played by both actors.

     187 is not an easy film. It chronicles the destruction of one caring and idealistic teacher by the uncaring school and justice system and by the violence inherent within U.S. society and, indeed, presents us with no solution and little hope. Samuel L. Jackson is excellent but if this is the school system in the U.S. in Australia we have an awful lot to be thankful for.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     187 is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original theatrical ratio being 1.85:1. The film is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a fairly soft print, without counting the deliberate out of focus sections, although close-up detail is acceptable. There has been some colour manipulation; the New York section is very blue and dull, the L.A. brighter with a red / yellow hue that does affect skin tones. There are a number of sudden contrast changes which are deliberate, and some glare when the light is behind the actor. Blacks are good; there are really no night scenes of note so shadow detail is fine.

     There was an occasional mark and frequent ghosting against vertical lines, but nothing too serious.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a largish white font. Burnt in subtitles translate the section of Spanish dialogue in the film.

     The print is soft but acceptable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue can occasionally be a hard to understand due to accents or softness, but there are always the subtitles. The surrounds are utilised by voices in class, engines, overhead trains or music and there are occasional pans, such as the aircraft landing. The subwoofer was not overused, mainly adding bass to the music and occasional engine.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The original score is credited to David Darling and Michael Stearns. In reality, the music in the film was mostly a collection of rap and electronic songs by the likes of Massive Attack, Brian Eno, Everything But The Girl, Undercover Agent and others which worked well enough.

     The audio was perfectly suitable for the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras, not even a trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region 1 release of 187 features an audio commentary by the director Kevin Reynolds, writer Scott Yagemann, and cast members Samuel L. Jackson and Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez that is reported to be excellent, plus a trailer. This would put the US version well in front of ours.

Summary

     187, directed by Kevin Reynolds, is a bleak and distressing film although Samuel L. Jackson is excellent as a flawed and hurt man, betrayed by the system that disempowers teachers.

     The video and audio are acceptable, but we miss out on the commentary available on the US release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Kevin S

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