08/02/2015  
1931 The Front Page on Blu-ray & DVD Aug 11Madama Bovary on DVD & Blu-ray Aug 4Rookie Blue: Season Five, Volume One on DVD Aug 18The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein on Blu-ray & DVD Jul 28The Blacklist: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray & DVD Aug. 18What We Do in the Shadows on Blu-ray & DVD Jul 21Goodbye to All That on DVD Jul 14

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

1931 The Front Page on Blu-ray & DVD Aug 11...
Betty White Heartbroken Over Cecil the Lion's Killing a...
Italy town petitions for Foo Fighters concert with band...
EXCLUSIVE: Valerie Harper Rushed to Hospital, 'It Doesn...
'Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation' is breakneck, bre...
Ted Cruz backs out of scheduled 'Daily Show' appearance...
'Ant-Man' inches past 'Pixels' to take No. 1 spot at bo...
Jake Gyllenhaal's Evolution of Hotness, From Bubble Boy...
Judd Apatow: Bill Cosby "One of the Most Awful People t...
Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert Split 10 Years After ...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

MGM Studios DVD presents
Gangster No. 1 (2001)

Karen: You're not bad looking.
Young Gangster: Not bad looking? I'm a prince, darling.

- Saffron Burrows, Paul Bettany

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: October 14, 2002

Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Paul Bettany, David Thewlis, Saffron Burrows
Other Stars: Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln
Director: Paul McGuigan

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: R for brutal violence, pervasive language, brief drug use and nudity
Run Time: 01h:43m:10s
Release Date: October 08, 2002
UPC: 027616879639
Genre: gangster


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B+B+ B-

DVD Review

At the conclusion of the 1949 classic White Heat, James Cagney’s maniacal gangster Cody Jarrett stands atop a burning oil refinery and screams "Top of the world, ma!" before succombing to his fiery death. During one revealing moment of Gangster No. 1, Malcolm McDowell's crazy old gangster screams "I'm number one!" from a skyscraper while only wearing his underwear. Both men have supposedly reached the pinnacle of their profession, but nothing exists for them but pain and sorrow. The lead gangster in this picture has severed every moral fiber in his body to reach the top, but he finds it devoid of happiness.

Relatively unknown director Paul McGuigan (The Acid House) has crafted an intense portrait of a despicable gangster that overwhelms most previous incarnations of this character type. The majority of this tragic tale occurs in the 1960s as we follow the young Gangster (Paul Bettany, A Beautiful Mind) and his rise to power. His initial appearance reveals a green boy with few clues about style or brutality. However, he studies the movements of the well-dressed boss Freddie Mays (David Thewlis, Dragonheart) and crafts his own personality. During one especially uncomfortable moment, Gangster sits in the car and conducts an eerie, almost sexual inspection of every inch of Mays' form. This attraction to his confident superior is not really about sex, however, but instead reflects his strong desire to be that powerful man in every way.

Before dismissing this tale as just another "rise and fall of the gangster" story, I should tell you that strong variations are present here. We learn nothing about Gangster's past and don't see the usual happy moments of a young boy working for the fat, old bosses. Following a quick introduction, the flashback scenes immediately move into the inner workings of a small group of low-level British hoods. This film also closely explores the dark interior of a fairly normal guy whose demons overcome his soul. The killings are especially brutal, but they don't feel gratuitous because the cartoon elements have been removed. When Gangster enters the apartment of a rival leader, he brings an entire set of rudimentary tools that reflect his barbaric nature. Although later repulsed by his actions, he takes disturbing pleasure in committing atrocious violence, which separates him from the more likable villains of many genre entries.

The story in the 1960s is told almost entirely in flashback from the point of view of the old, bitter Gangster. McDowell's voice appears intermittently and injects crude thoughts about the characters while rarely explaining his young actions. When Freddie Mays meets the stunning Karen (Saffron Burrows, Enigma), we see the hateful look on Gangster's face while his own words expand the idea. She represents another element gained by his powerful associate that he desires. The flashback structure also opens up the possibility of an unreliable narrator. Should we believe that this image of Gangster is entirely accurate? Regardless, his lack of remorse about past cruelties towards Mays and others showcases a person who has not progressed in his adulthood in any way.

Bolstered by an intense, biting debut script from Johnny Ferguson, Gangster No. 1 remains compelling, while inspiring hatred towards its lead character. This is not an easy task. Many viewers will probably abhor this picture due to the graphic violence and unlikable protagonist. I would agree with them on both points, but still found plenty of interest within the story. McGuigan maintains a kinetic style of split screens and odd colors that helps to strike an exciting tone, even in slower moments. When Thewlis and McDowell confront each other in the end as old shells of their former selves, the tension splits the air and helps to create an intriguing sequence.

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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Gangster No.1 is available in both widescreen and pan & scan version on this disc. The full-frame option comes with the usual problems inherent with a cropped picture. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer does a nice job in creating the 1960s atmosphere. There are some noticeable defects on the print, but they do seem to match the tone of the period. Some grain also appears during the darker moments, but it remains light and does not distract too considerably. The bright, fiery colors spring from the transfer several times and help to enhance McGuigan's visual invention.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Enjoyable rock-and-roll tunes jump effectively from this 5.1-channel Dolby Surround transfer. The story often veers into chaotic territory, and this powerful track keeps everything energetic. The mournful score also enhances the dark tone, and it has a nice range of depth. I would have liked to hear even more complexity from the rear speakers, but these are minor complaints. For the most part, everything is easily understandable and presented forecefully.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Paul McGuigan
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Gangster No. 1 contains a few decent extra features that shed additional light onto the production. The major inclusion is a commentary track from director Paul McGuigan, who spends considerable time discussing the creation of the gangster character. His Scottish accent does make a few lines difficult to comprehend, but it is not an issue. The director varies his statements nicely and covers both the technical and story elements. The best segments focus on McGuigan's desire to make this picture differ from the typical gangster film. His tone may be a bit dry at times, but the commentary remains interesting throughout most of the picture.

The remaining supplements include a brief featurette, deleted scene, and several preview trailers. While the short documentary runs only about five minutes, it does provide more information than the typical promotional junk. It mixes interview clips with McGuigan, McDowell, and Bettany with scenes from the film to give us a brief overview. The deleted scene is an alternate version of McDowell preparing for the arrival of the older Freddie Mays. It runs for about two-and-a-half minutes.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Prior to his first killing, Paul Bettany's young Gangster contorts his face into an unnatural position and lets out the silent scream of a demonic figure. From this point forward, the character degenerates into a person obsessed with power and control. The evil segments of his persona overtake any semblance of humanity and create a callous monster. Gangster No. 1 presents a fascinating portrait of an extremely disturbed individual who gains wealth and power, but loses his soul in the process.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

comedy, classic, music, foo fighters, learn to fly, fabio zaffagnini, celebrity, betty white, walt palmer, cecil the lion, mia farrow, jimmy kimmel, valerie harper, nice work if you can get it, ogunquit playhouse, mary tyler moore show, movie, mission: impossible -- rogue nation, tom cruise, simon pegg, ving rhames, jeremy remmer, alec baldwin, television, late night, jon stewart, ted cruz, david mccullough, ant-man, disney, marvel, pixels, adam sandler, jurassic, inside out, minions, trainwreck, southpaw, jake gyllenhaal, october sky, donnie darko, bubbly boy, brokeback mountain, prisoners, jeff apatow, cnn, new day, bill cosby, blake shelton miranda lambert, you are the reason god make oklahoma, gunpowder and lead, drama, payton reed, paul rudd, michael douglas, corey stoll, evangeline lily, horror, tom selleck, calleguas municipal water district, movies, star wars, harrison ford, dead pool, ryan reynolds, muppets, batman v superman, ben affleck, westworld, hbo, j.j. abrams, the gallows, cassidy gifford, kathie lee gifford, frank gifford, amy schumer, judd apatow, bill hader, inside amy schumer, ariana grande, dough-nut licking video, wolfee donuts, netflix, wet hot american summer: first day of camp, michael showalter, david wain, elizabeth banks, michael ian black, bradley cooper, judah friedlander, janeane garofalo, joe lo truglio, ken marino, christopher meloni, marguerite moreau, zak orth, amy poehler, david hyde pierce, molly shannon, sci-fy, star trek, justin lin, star trek beyond, zoe soldana, chris pine, donald trump, republican presidential candidate, nbc, televisa, ora tv, lupita jones, carlos slim, larry king, sex-assault lawsuit, associated press, george m. gowen iii, disneyland, disney california adventure, selfie sticks banned, california screaming, coachella, lollapalooza, jimmy fallon, tonight show, hand injury, x files, david duchovny, gillian anderson, fox, january 24, 2016, apple music, allen kovac, motley crue, taylor swift, elvis costello, calvin harris

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store