Bronx Tale, A (Blu-ray) (1993)

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Released 7-Mar-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-The Making of (6:15)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 121:32 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert De Niro
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring Robert De Niro
Chazz Palminteri
Lillo Brancato
Francis Capra
Taral Hicks
Kathrine Narducci
Clem Caserta
Alfred Sauchelli Jr.
Frank Pietrangolare
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Butch Barbella


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     It is 1960; street-wise nine year old Calogero (Francis Capra) lives in the Bronx district of New York with his bus driver father Lorenzo (Robert De Niro) and his mother Rosina (Katherine Narducci) but idolises Sonny (Chazz Palminteri), the wise guy who controls the neighbourhood. One day he witnesses Sonny shoot a man dead, but refuses to identify Sonny to the police. As a result Sonny notices Calogero; he offers to employ Lorenzo, who refuses and warns Calogero about Sonny, but Calogero hangs around the bar where the wise guys gather doing odd jobs and earning tips until Lorenzo discovers Calogero’s cache of money and confronts Sonny. An uneasy peace results with Calogero caught between his father’s values of hard, honest work, and those of Sonny and the easy life.

     Eight years later Calogero, now called “C” by everyone, (played now by Lillo Brancato) hangs around with his group of wannabe tough guy friends although Sonny, who has become almost a substitute father, does not want C to end up like himself; he warns C that his friends are nothing but trouble and gives C good advice about life, and love. Trouble is simmering in the Bronx between the Italian and Negro districts, making each a no-go area to the others, and C finds himself in the middle when he falls in love with Jane (Taral Hicks), a Negro girl. The love is mutual but when violence erupts between blacks and whites C has to make some important choices, not only about race but also about the competing values of his father and Sonny.

     A Bronx Tale is based on the one-man stage play written, and performed, by Chazz Palminteri, who also wrote the screenplay for the film and acts as Sonny. The main talking point, however, is that the film was directed by Robert De Niro; he currently has 114 credits as an actor on the IMDb and has been nominated for Oscars 7 times, winning for The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Raging Bull (1981)). However, A Bronx Tale was his first go at director and he subsequently directed only one other film The Good Shepherd in 2006. Thus directing does not seem to be his forte, although his direction of A Bronx Tale is solid but uninspiring. He may not have had a lot to work with; the origins of the film in a play are fairly obvious in the stilted dialogue, especially from Taral Hicks, the static staging and the voiceover narration telling us more than we need to know. Chazz Palminteri is at the centre of the story, and his Sonny is compelling, a man with sense and a heart, but doing bad things. De Niro has the more difficult role of the hard-working, honest man trying to steer is only son away from the seductions of the wise guy life. In truth, however, De Niro does not have a lot to work with; the most powerful, and possibly the best, scene in the film comes halfway through when Lorenzo bravely confronts Sonny about his son, a scene which has a power and intensity that is not matched later. The familiar face of Joe Pesci also appears in a cameo late in the film.

     A Bronx Tale is a coming of age story, a crime drama, a dip into race relations and a morality tale. Although set in the 1960s in a small part of New York, things are changing in America, nothing more so than the popular music as reflected in the film’s amazingly diverse soundtrack. While A Bronx Tale can be stagy it has its moments.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     A Bronx Tale is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a nice looking print. Colours are natural but as this is an inner-city area they are muted. Detail can be soft in places but close-ups are strong, blacks and shadow detail good, brightness and contrast consistent and skin tones natural.

     English subtitles are available in a clear white font.

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

Audio

     Audio is English DolbyTrueHD 5.1.

     This is a front oriented audio track with only occasional engines, some voices and music in the rears. Dialogue is clear except where a number of people talk all at once. There are a couple of action sequences where the audio becomes more enveloping with the impacts of bats, kicks, punches plus yells and, in the firebombing attack near the end, the smashing of glass and roar of fire. The subwoofer supported the beat of the music, motor cycle engines in one sequence and engines and fire effects.

     The original score by Butch Barbella is used sparsely as the majority of the soundtrack is music from the period, which witnessed a major change in the musical landscape. Thus included are Dion & The Belmonts, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, The Four Tops, Otis Redding, Wilson Picket, James Brown through to The Rascals, The Moody Blues, Cream, The Kinks, The Beatles and The Jimi Hendrix Experience!

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

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

Extras

The Making of (6:15)

     This is a vintage “Making of”, in indifferent condition. It focuses on how De Niro is directing his first film and adds a bit on the cast and the music of the film. Some on-set footage, film clips and short comments from De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato, Francis Capra and producer Jane Rosenthal.

Trailer (2:06)

R4 vs R1

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

     Amazon.com lists only the UK and this Australian release of A Bronx Tale. The UK Region ABC release has the same extras but is listed as having a LPCM 2.0 audio.

Summary

     A Bronx Tale tries to do a bit too much all at once; it is a coming of age story, a crime drama, a dip into race relations and a morality tale and while parts are good it is too stagy to blend all the parts together. However, the cast is good and the soundtrack amazing, so it has its moments. De Niro directing is also a bit of a novelty.

     The film looks fine on Blu-ray, the audio is good. The extras are minor.

     A Bronx Tale was released here on DVD about 15 years ago. For fans of the film the DVD was reviewed on this site here so you can make some comparisons to see if you want to upgrade. The Blu-ray has the same extra, misses out the trailers of other films but does have a decent HD presentation and lossless audio.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 24, 2018
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

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