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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
One Tough Cop (1998)

"I grew up in a neighborhood where organized crime was a way of life. But I never saw these people as criminals. To me they were fathers and sons; the friends I went to school with and sat next to at church."
- Bo Dietl (Stephen Baldwin)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: May 09, 2000

Stars: Stephen Baldwin, Mike McGlone
Other Stars: Chris Penn, Gina Gershon,
Director: Bruno Barreto

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language.
Run Time: 01h:30m:00s
Release Date: April 13, 1999
UPC: 043396033344
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C-B+C D+

DVD Review

Here is a premise tried and true: a tale of cops and mobsters, made only more promising because the movie is produced by the greatest producer of cops and mobsters movies of all time—Martin Bregman (Serpico, Carlito's Way, Scarface, Sea of Love). But in the end, One Tough Cop fails as both a film and as a DVD, which is disappointing to say the least, but not entirely unexpected.

Being up front I must admit I am not the biggest fan of Stephen "the ugly brother " Baldwin (Bio-dome, Threesome), but outside of the fact I could not stop looking at how big his cheeks are, he really is not the problem with this movie. This film suffers from second-rate writing, a convoluted plot structure, and some flawed acting as well. While Gina Gershon does a nice job as the gangster's moll, Chris Penn (Footloose, True Romance, Rumblefish) suffers from a case of over playing his character, and Mike McGlone (The Brothers McMullen, She's the One) never seems comfortable or believable as a young mafioso.

The plot of this movie is thickened by too many already exercised copyrighted ideas: cop is friend with gangster, FBI threatens retaliation if the cop doesn't cooperate by turning in gangster friend; the partner is a gambling drinker who may possess some good qualities such as loyalty and fraternity, is ultimately pushing ever closer to the brink of ruin; cop falls for moll (well, you get the point. Bizarrely, there is a disclaimer that all characters except for the main character, Bo Dietl, are fictitious. Huh? What did they do, carve this guy out and put him into a fictional story? If any one would like to make heads or tails of this, please do so for me...I'm mighty confused.

The tagline for this film is "Sometimes the facts get lost in the headline," which to me makes no sense either. I'm not sure the director, Bruno Barreto, had much to work with here, but this film didn't seem to understand whether it wanted to be about a gruesome murder investigation (the tagline and preview seem to suggest this aspect) or a tangled web of a buddy film gone bad.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: This is a pretty good 1.85:1 anamorphic (16:9 enhanced) transfer, although not the best we've seen from Columbia. This movie is fairly dark, but throughout night shots and scenes in restaurants, bedrooms and back rooms the colors are generally solid, and there were few appearances of graininess or compression artifacts that I noticed. There is also a Pan & Scan transfer on the flip side of the disc.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Columbia didn't spend much on the sound track for this movie, but probably for the apparent reasons. Even though this is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, it is reasonably responsive and there is even some occasional rear channel activity that was unexpected. Despite the lack of dynamic soundstage, the dialogue is still easily discernible and natural sounding.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc has the bare minimum of extra: cast and crew bios and the theatrical trailer, which, as I mentioned earlier, seems to propose a different movie than I watched.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

I usually view films at least twice to in order to double check the transfer, commentary, and other observations, but just could not get myself to do so in this case. However, One Tough Cop is not the worst film I've seen all year, nor the worst disc. Being a "B" title, and because the disc contains very little in the way of extras, I would say this was Columbia's version of a middle-level Warner title (the $19.99 variety). I can't say this is a keeper; but it might be worth a rent if there's nothing else left in the store.


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