Blind Justice (1994)
"What kinda town you got here? You got no whiskey, no milk, no nothing."- Canaan (Armand Assante)
Stars: Armand Assante, Elisabeth Shue, Robert Davi
Other Stars: Adam Baldwin, Ian McElhinney, Danny Nucci
Director: Richard Spence
MPAA Rating: R for (graphic western violence and some language)
Run Time: 01h:27m:45s
Release Date: 2001-05-08
DVD ReviewWesterns aren't done often nowadays, but whenever one does come out, it usually tries to do something a bit different with the genre. HBO's Blind Justice, originally made for cable, played around a bit with the typical "mysterious hero" routine by making the central character blind. Well, almost blind anyway, but blind enough that he still gets to walk around with cool shades on while blowing away the bad guys. It's not a Sergio Leoné masterpiece, but it works well for what it is and I found it immensely entertaining.
Armand Assante is Canaan, the aforementioned mystery gunman, who is travelling across the West in search of a specific town where he can deliver a baby. He winds up taking a long detour in the town of San Pedro when he's attacked by local bandits. He discovers that these bandits are holding the town hostage until the Civil War calvary men (led by William Baldwin) within give up their silver horde and leave the area. A young nurse, Caroline (Elisabeth Shue), befriends Canaan and tries to convince to help defend the town against the bandits, led by the treacherous Alacran (Robert Davi). Canaan agrees to go and get military help, but only if he's given a substantial portion of the silver. Before their carefully laid plans can get very far, Alacran declares a virtual war against the town of San Pedro. Canaan has to put faith in some rather dubious characters in order to get out of this alive.
Heavy on the gunplay and action, Blind Justice paces itself well and has a distinct intensity about it. There are some rather clichéd moments here and there, but I don't think director Richard Spence was out to trailblaze for the genre. Instead, we have all the archetypes performing their roles well, from bad guys to good guys. While a few of the plot twists are easy to see coming, they are not built up as if meant to be surprising.
Armand Assante might mumble a little too much, but he's really the centerpiece of the film. He makes a great character to get behind and support, even though you're never really sure of his intentions. Unfortunately, the supporting cast never really get a chance to blossom. Make no mistake, they're good and well cast, but the film could have been a bit longer to give them more screen-time. All that aside, I've always liked the work that HBO has done for their own made-for-TV movies, and that general quality is present in Blind Justice. It's a good, old-fashioned western with a little modern-day effect added in; nothing more, nothing less.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Although some of the hazier scenes are a little pixelated, the overall image quality is very good for a full-frame disc. The general color balance and black level are satisfying and nothing is affected by any transfer problems. The print itself is also free of any major instances of damage or age.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||English, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: The English Dolby Surround audio is very impressive, amongst the best I've heard in the format. It almost sounds like 4.0 discreet, but it's indeed Pro-Logic. With excellent clarity, dialogue and all sorts of directional/stereo effects dominate the front soundstage, and some very good bass carries over into the subwoofer. The mono surround channel is generously used for some great ambient effect and support to the front channels (echos and music enhancement). It's a very sharp, well-produced mix that really sounds much more recent than 1994.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the flat Spanish mono track, and the French stereo tracks, which lack much of the intensity of the 2.0 Surround mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Extras Review: Other than some very thin bios for the central cast and crew, there are no substantial features here. The three subtitle tracks are a nice inclusion.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsIt might be bare bones, but it's a pretty good movie in its own right and well worth a rental for the fan of dark, atmospheric westerns. Sure, it's not dazzlinglyoriginal, but it's still a lot of fun.
Dan Lopez 2001-07-13