Dead Heat (I Fought the Law) (2000)

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Released 17-Dec-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-1:50
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 93:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Malone

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Kiefer Sutherland
Anthony LaPaglia
Radha Mitchell
Lothaire Bluteau
Denis Arndt
Kay Panabaker
Daniel Benzali
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Patric Caird

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    A movie about horse racing called Dead Heat? Hmm, that sounds like the title of a Dick Francis novel - perhaps I should review it. I like Dick Francis, even though his books are starting to get a bit the same.

    I was wrong. Quite wrong. The Dick Francis novel I was thinking of was Dead Cert, not Dead Heat. This film has nothing to do with Dick Francis novels, except that both are set amongst horse-racing.

    This film is set in the US, but filmed in Canada. The central character is Pally LaMarr (Kiefer Sutherland). He's an ex-cop, forced out of the police at 35 because of a heart problem. He's left his wife, he drinks too much, smokes too much, and is really not a sympathetic character. And that's the problem with this film. We're supposed to have sympathy for Pally, because we're supposed to care about what he's going through, but it's not easy - he's just not very likeable. It's hard to see what his ex-wife Charlotte (Radha Mitchell) sees in him, or why she bothers with him, let alone why she keeps sleeping with him.

    Pally's step-brother Ray (Anthony LaPaglia) tries to get Pally interested in a deal. Ray clearly has a history of marginal deals (these character are not finely-drawn; more like crayon). Ray wants to buy a racehorse who showed promise as a two-year-old, but has always run slow since - he's blackmailed a top vet into looking at the horse and has discovered that the horse can be restored to full health with a simple operation. He also has a line on a top jockey who can be persuaded to ride the horse. Pally is reluctant to get involved - he's sure Ray's deal is crooked in some way. But he loves racehorses, and Ray plays on that. He goes to see the horse, and is partly convinced. Then Ray takes him to see the jockey: Tony LaRoche (Lothaire Bluteau). Pally discerns that Tony is a compulsive gambler, and heavily in debt to Frank Finnegan (Daniel Benzali), who runs a gambling joint, and is clearly organised crime. Tony is also an ex-convict, sent to jail for fixing races.

    Pally gets sucked in. The horse does turn out to be fast after the operation, but Finnegan wants the horse, so he takes it. They steal it back, but things go wrong...

    Maybe this script could work with someone else playing Pally. I don't know. All I do know is that it didn't work for me.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is softish, but clear enough - there's light grain present most of the time. Shadow detail is very good. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour is good most of the time, but there are a few scenes that are a bit washed out - as if the brightness was set too high.

    There are some film artefacts, such as some black spots at 90:40, and fine vertical scratches at 74:05. There's minimal aliasing, and only a trace of moire. This is a fairly clean transfer.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided and single layered so there is no layer change. With just a short film and a trailer, the single layer is ample.

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


    The English soundtrack on this disc is available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround (coded as Dolby Digital 2.0).

    The dialogue is mostly clear and understandable, even with the Irish accent put on by Lothaire Bluteau. There are no visible audio sync problems.

    Patric Caird's score is corny in spots, but it does the job.

    There's little or nothing sent to the subwoofer. The surrounds get little to do other than provide a bit of depth to the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The main menu is static, with music behind it. It's easy to operate.

Trailer (1:50)

    This trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It's grainier than the film, and contains some spoilers - don't watch it before the film.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 DVD won't be released until the end of July. It sounds as though it will offer the same level of features as this one.


    Dead Heat is a fairly ordinary film, presented on a reasonable DVD.

    The video quality is perfectly reasonable.

    The audio quality is good enough.

    The extra is rudimentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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