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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Luck of the Draw (2001)

"I want a name, I want a head, I want them freakin' plates!"
- Giani Ponti (Dennis Hopper)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: October 25, 2001

Stars: James Marshall, William Forsythe, Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen
Other Stars: Wendy Benson-Landes, Ice-T, Eric Roberts, Patrick Kilpatrick, Frank Gorshin
Director: Luca Bercovici

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, and some sexuality
Run Time: 01h:40m:50s
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 012236121466
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C C-B-B C-

DVD Review

In the world of straight-to-video filmmaking, the key to success is attracting well-known actors who have few qualms about tackling lesser material. The lack of pressure allows them to have fun and not worry about box office success. Luck of the Draw contains a wealth of recognizable faces playing a silly, predictable game of cops and robbers. Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, William Forsythe, and Ice-T have all joined director Luca Bercovici (Ghoulies) to create tedious mayhem. While the end result is mildly entertaining, this story recycles numerous clichČs and follows the typical pattern of countless action films of recent years.

Jack Sweeney (James Marshall, Twin Peaks) is out of jail and searching for a normal job in the real world. Unfortunately, he discovers that employers will not give a chance to a convicted felon. Following another frustrating rejection, Sweeney stumbles upon an amazing coincidence while strolling along the streets. Mob boss Giani Ponti (Dennis Hopper) desires a pair of extremely valuable counterfeit plates at all costs, and he commissions his henchmen to raid a Frenchman's limousine and grab them. When the cops arrive, chaos ensues, and by pure chance, Sweeney ends up finding the plates at his feet. Has his luck changed, or will it lead to a violent death? With dollar signs flashing through his head, Sweeney decides to sell the plates. Unfortunately, he will quickly discover the bloody complexities of this get-rich scheme.

The primary relationship exists between Sweeney and Rebecca Johnson (Wendy Benson-Landes)óan attractive girl who immediately lusts after him. Before they've even had a lengthy conversation, she introduces Sweeney to her father (Batman Riddler Frank Gorshin) and lets him stay at their house. The chemistry between these handsome characters is virtually nonexistent, and they're together only because our hero needs a love interest. While Hopper, Madsen, and Eric Roberts exist to chew scenery, any time wasted on these two dull characters is time misspent. Luckily, the emotional moments (besides the required nude scene) are kept to a minimum, and it fails to halt the action too much. Regardless, their connection exists to try and generate sympathy for Sweeney, and it fails miserably.

Marshall may play the hero, but the allure of this film stems from the combination of memorable villains and crazies from classic action films. It's not a surprise that most of the actors stick to their usual character types. Hopper is a boisterous mobster, Ice-T plays a gangster, Forsythe becomes a slimy cop, and Roberts is a tough thug. One surprise is Madsen, whose suave thief actually has a nice heart and displays some weakness. Sadly, this group fails to energize the dull story, and their talents are wasted. In fact, the most interesting villain is Patrick Kilpatrick's (Last Man Standing, Eraser) stoic hitman, who commits murder with detached amusement; killing appears no different to him than taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn to this professional.

Luck of the Draw follows the usual action formula and leads us towards a predictable bloody showdown. If played correctly, this finale could save the story and possibly make the earlier events worthwhile. It's too bad that this battle remains predictable and contains a copycat feeling. This type of scene has been done better many times for several decades. Recent entries to this collection of final shootouts include the effective True Romance and the over-the-top Way of the Gun. This film falls well short of those moments, which are not even the better releases in the genre. Instead, it remains too monotonous and straightforward to generate much interest.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Luck of the Draw utilizes the original 1.33:1 full-frame transfer and showcases a decent amount of impressive colors. No major defects exist on the picture, but it lacks the pristine clarity inherent in the best releases. The story features several extensive action sequences, but they possess a television movie-feel that limits their effectiveness. The overall visual quality is fine, but it lacks any distinguishable characteristics or memorable shots to place it above the average digital transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: This disc includes a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer that works decently to present the frenetic gun battles. Bullets jump powerfully from the speakers and add to the chaos of these scenes. The dialogue sounds fine and is easily decipherable during the film. This track offers a good stereo experience, but it falls short in terms of the overall depth of the sounds. This is especially notable during the shootouts, which display force but fall well short of a complete 5.1-channel digital transfer. It's probably too much to expect a top-notch sound from this type of feature. However, it would have lifted the presentation to another audio level.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Luck of the Draw contains only a few supplements, which is understandable considering the quality level of the film. It offers the usual preview trailer, which comes in a decent widescreen transfer and hypes the actors on the bill. The other extra is a nice cast and crew section with entries for all the major stars of the film and the director. The biographies provide some nice background, and the filmographies are pretty extensive. One surprise is the lack of information on Wendy Benson-Landes, who plays a much larger role than Frank Gorshin or Ice-T.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Luck of the Draw sets its sights fairly low, and it achieves these goals. The combination of over-the-top actors Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, Ice-T, and others makes the story watchable. However, the overall product barely resides in the brain for a moment and falls under the weight of predictability.

 


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