“William Petersen (Manhunter) and Willem Dafoe (John Wick) face off in a deadly game of cat and mouse in this “riveting” (The New York Times) action-thriller from the Oscar-winning director of The French Connection. This raw tale of corruption and revenge features one of the most harrowing car chases ever caught on film and a shockingly explosive ending.
Federal agent Richard Chance (Petersen) has a score to settle, and he’s through playing by the rules. Whether that means blackmailing a beautiful parolee, disobeying direct orders or hurtling the wrong way down a crowded freeway, he vows to take down a murderous counterfeiter (Dafoe) by any means necessary. But as the stakes grow higher, will Chance’s obsession with vengeance ultimately destroy him?”
William Friedkin’s influence in film casts a long shadow to be sure, and To Live and Die in L.A. is another reason this director is revered in his craft.
If you didn’t think counterfeiting money could be exciting, Friedkin commands it to be so, presenting a stellar cast that takes you on a journey the likes you will have never seen before. To Rick Masters (Willem Dafoe), this is an art form, and understandably so, the same is probably said in real life. Through Masters we see the method of his form, mesmerizing and beautiful to witness. With a background in painting, he painstakingly pays attention to every detail, as any imperfection can cost him business and reputation.
After the death of his partner by the hands of Masters, Richard Chance (William Petersen) vows to take him down, no matter what the cost. His new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow) doesn’t see eye-to-eye with this cavalier attitude toward justice, believing methods such as stealing evidence from a crime scene, and robbing a drug mule to set up a fake business transaction with Masters as crossing the line.
To Live and Die in L.A. is one of the most fast paced films I’ve ever seen, and with Friedkin at the helm, we know we are headed in the right direction. Friedkin portrays L.A. much like the Old West, in which outlaws roam free and it is up to individuals to take them down. Although L.A. is a very large city, in the scope of the film we find it to be very confining, almost claustrophobic at times. Equipped with one of the most impressive car chase scenes I’ve seen, which Friedkin is known for, this film is so simple in its premise, but reaches the depths of so many levels.
Everything in To Live and Die in L.A. is beyond impressive. Friedkin’s style is unmistakable, with great action sequences and cinematography. The cast is another thing that surprised me in this film. Being newcomers to film, Petersen and Pankow hold the entire film on their shoulders and carry the weight like seasoned veterans. Dafoe brings the same intensity he does in all his films, and brings multiple levels to his character. There are some great surprises such as a young John Turturro who has a considerable role in the film and brings some levity with him.
To Live and Die in L.A. is presented in a brand new High Definition transfer from the negative, scanned at 4k and supervised by Friedkin himself. At 1080p, 1.85:1 this new transfer is gorgeous. Colors are balanced well, the picture is crisp and clear with great detail. You couldn’t ask for a better transfer, and this has been given an amazing treatment.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. This film has a great score written exclusively for the film by Wang Chung. Although it may seem VERY outdated now, I cannot imagine anything else in its place to express the tone of the film and the era it takes place in.
As always, Shout has put together a great array of extras. Although I wish we could have seen a newer interview with Dafoe, these are some great introspectives into the process of making the film which gives new insight into the characters. On this set you’re going to see:
NEW 4K Scan Of The Negative Supervised And Approved By William Friedkin
NEW Taking A Chance – An Interview With William Petersen
NEW Wrong Way: The Stunts Of To Live And Die In L.A. – An Interview With Stunt Coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker
NEW So In Phase: Scoring To Live And Die In L.A. – An Interview With The Band Wang Chung (Jack Hues And Nick Feldman)
NEW Renaissance Woman In L.A. – An Interview With Actress Debra Feuer
NEW Doctor For A Day – An Interview With Actor Dwier Brown
Audio Commentary With Director William Friedkin
Deleted Scene And Alternate Ending
Counterfeit World: The Making Of To Live And Die In L.A.
To Live and Die in L.A. is one those films that exists on multiple levels, and one of those films that sits with you after viewing it, giving you a deeper appreciation for it over time. The Shout Select series has been wildly successful, in my opinion, in bringing great films to light to find a new audience.