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Fox Lorber presents
Johnny 100 Pesos (Johnny Cien Pesos) (1993)

"It's pretty stupid to pull a robbery in your school uniform. I would've hit you too."
- Gloria (Patricia Rivera)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 12, 2000

Stars: Armando Araiza, Patricia Rivera
Other Stars: Willy Semler Luis Gnecco, Paulina Varutia, Christian Campos
Director: Gustavo Graef Marino

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Violence, hostage situations, sexual situations, language)
Run Time: 01h:30m:00s
Release Date: July 05, 2000
UPC: 720917523125
Genre: suspense thriller

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

DVD Review

As an optimist named Murphy once declared, "Everything that can go wrong,will." That inevitably seems to be the case with a sub-genre of caper films where the crime goes disastrously wrong, such as Dog Day afternoon.

The film Johnny 100 Pesos fits firmly into that sub-genre, even though it is a telling of a true story, set against 1990 Santiago, Chile. At the time, the dictator Pinochet had been out of office and a democratic government installed only months before. A 17-year-old schoolboy, Johnny Garcia (Armando Araiza, has attempted to make his way into a gang of small-time criminals (with members such as "Loco") by setting up a heist of a video store which serves as a front for a money laundering operation. We first see Johnny riding a bus as his gun, in his school bag, suddenly goes off, letting us immediately know that things will go badly. The group soon learns that instead of being readily available, the money is kept in a locked office and is held by the unctuous Don Alfonso (Luis Gnecco) and his secretary/girlfriend, Gloria (Patricia Rivera). The robbery quickly degenerates into a hostage situation, and the group find themselves identified on television when some enterprising reporters find Johnny's school ID.

As Johnny's luck would have it, the video store is on the 8th floor of a building only three blocks from the capitol, making the Chilean government feel like they have little choice but to force a resolution lest the new democratic government appear too weak to defend its citizenry. We watch entranced as the web inexorably tightens around the little group. In the meanwhile, Gloria proves herself to be more than a handful, repeatedly seducing Johnny only to clock him with a frying pan, steal his gun, pistol-whip him and knee him in the groin.

While this film has many comedic elements, especially in connection with the botched robbery, it is a very solid thriller that will hold your interest. The characters are well-drawn, although other than Gloria, they are not terribly sympathetic. Araiza in particular gives an effective performance as the over-enthusiastic, over optimistic and easily manipulated Johnny; he seems quite drawn from life, although Araiza seems a little old for the part.

The involvement of the media in making celebrities of this motley bunch will remind the viewer of Natural Born Killers, though with a much lower level of mayhem. We are repeatedly shown images within images, as the cameras focus on the goings-on in and around the building, which the criminals watch on television in the little office as they attempt to figure out some method of escape. The political undercurrent also makes for an intriguing counterpoint to the principal story, of which the participants take full advantage.

The running time is a full five minutes shorter than the 95 minutes indicated on the keepcase.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Fox Lorber's fullscreen transfer of this 1.85:1 film is quite good. I don't see any evidence of panning and scanning, and there seems to be plenty of headroom, so I expect that this is an open-matte presentation. I would have preferred a widescreen transfer, however. Colors are bright and vibrant,although natural in appearance. Blacks are extremely rich and solid, and the shadow detail is enormous. There are a few random speckles and one visible instance of frame damage, but overall the print used looks gorgeous. Scan lines are visible throughout the credits, but not too obnoxious during the film proper. Bit rates are very high, ranging around 8 Mbps. Most of the downgrading is because of the fullscreen presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The film is presented only in the original mono Spanish, as DD 2.0. Since the sound goes to the main speakers rather than the center, we get some excellent bass response for a mono track. The dialogue is clear throughout. The jazzy score is quite effective and comes through without distortion or clipping.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The extras are minimal. We get the original U.S. theatrical trailer for the film(which stupidly gives away the climax, so don't watch it first). There is a weblink to Winstar Video's website, a three-screen list of cast and crew which essentially repeats the credits, and one-screen filmographies for Graef Marino, Araiza,Rivera and Willy Semler.

The subtitles are burned into the picture and cannot be removed. They are in general translated accurately, although on occasion the language is more abusive in Spanish than comes across in English. There is plenty of profanity in the English subtitles, however. The chaptering is wholly inadequate; there should have been at least twice as many chapters on this disc.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Johnny 100 Pesos is definitely worth the pesos for the film; the image is given a good transfer (though not in the correct aspect ratio) and the mono soundtrack is adequate for the job. Those who like the caper-gone-wrong sub-genre will definitely want this one.


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