Dead-Bang (1989)

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Released 19-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 97:23
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Frankenheimer

Warner Home Video
Starring Don Johnson
Penelope Ann Miller
William Forsythe
Bob Balaban
Frank Military
Tate Donovan
Antoni Stutz
Mickey Jones
Ron Campbell
William Traylor
Hy Anzell
Michael Jeter
Tim Reid
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.90 Music Gary Chang
Michael Kamen

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Jerry Beck is a Los Angeles Homicide Detective on the verge of a breakdown. His wife has left him and taken out a restraining order denying him visitation rights, he is almost financially bankrupt, he may or may not be an alcoholic, and he has just been assigned a murder investigation where a patrol officer has been brutally executed. The only thing preventing Detective Beck from losing it is his dedication to the job. This dedication could prove fatal however, as his investigation into the slain cop leads to a conspiracy involving white supremacists that slaughter innocents in the blink of an eye. The only thing standing in their way is a burnt out cop who may be as crazy as they are.

    Dead-Bang is an engaging thriller from the late eighties starring Don Johnson as the cop on the edge, and directed with professional efficiency by genre stalwart John Frankenheimer (Ronin, The Manchurian Candidate). The film is based on true events and to the filmmakers credit captures a realistic feel for the subject matter. Too often films based on real incidents tend to glamorise the subject matter. Dead-Bang manages to remain faithful to the material in an honest, almost documentary way. Director Frankenheimer is to be credited for this realism. Frankenheimer is at his best when directing thrillers, as those of you who have seen Ronin, The French Connection II, The Manchurian Candidate and 52 Pick-up can attest to. The film relishes the opportunity to show Detective Beck's world as dirty, corrupt, uncaring and lethal. Never once is the life of a police officer glamorised for the sake of entertainment. Instead, we get a realistic example of the stress and frustration that police have to put up with on a daily basis. This approach serves the film well and elevates it above other films of similar type.

    Don Johnson delivers a courageous performance as the strung-out Jerry Beck. Johnson plays against type to give Beck a grungy look that matches his lifestyle. Johnson relishes the opportunity to show the ugly side of police work, the highlight of which has to be (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) a scene where after a prolonged foot chase, Beck, struggling with a severe hangover, vomits on the suspect after he is apprehended. Absolutely priceless.

    Dead-Bang is an entertaining thriller that should please fans of the genre, and is well worth a look for those who are in the mood for a decent police drama.

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Transfer Quality


    Dead-Bang has been presented in an aspect ratio of 1:78:1, which is very close to the film's original theatrical ratio of 1:85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced for widescreen viewing. The picture has a a fairly sharp transfer, however I did notice occasional soft imaging. These instances are very minor and unless you really study the picture you won't notice them. Shadow detail ranges from strong to acceptable. The only time I noticed poor depth of field was at the 55:00 minute mark during a scene shot inside a vehicle at night. There were very minor patches of grain during the presentation and no signs of low level noise interference.

    Colours appeared slightly washed out, but remained natural.

    Film artefacts were kept to a minimum and were mostly of the dark variety and did not distract.

    All-in-all, for a budget release, Warner Home Video have delivered the goods again. They are to be complimented, especially for making all these budget releases anamorphic, particularly where their R1 counterparts are not.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Dead-Bang has been given a solitary English 2.0 Dolby Digital surround audio track.

    Dialogue is always clear and there are no audio sync issues.

    The film's musical score by Gary Chang is unremarkable, but manages to give the film the required mood to further the on-screen drama.

    The surround activity found in this soundtrack is adequate, but nothing more. Directionally, the rear channel only gets a workout during gun battles. Otherwise, the film's score is the only sound that consistently can be heard in the surrounds.

    The subwoofer adds the requisite reverberation during explosions and vehicle crashes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are no extras on this DVD.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 version of this DVD misses out on:

    The R4 version of this DVD misses out on:

    Clearly the R4 version is the winner.


    Dead-Bang has all the ingredients to make a good police thriller. That the film is based on real events only adds to the enjoyment of the story. The disc is bare bones, but has a solid audio / visual presentation.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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