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Artisan Home Entertainment presents

Jacked Up (2000)

"You think you all can handle this life?"- Zach (Bizzy Bone)

Stars: Ronreaco Lee, T-Low, Alexis Fields
Other Stars: Brandon Thomas, Tweet, Bizzy Bone
Director: Timothy Wayne Folsome

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, sexuality and drug content
Run Time: 01h:39m:57s
Release Date: 2002-07-23
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-B-B- B


DVD Review

The hazards of the inner-city urban gang menace that was displayed in Boyz N' the Hood has spawned many similarly themed films since 1991, and I'll be honest when I tell you that the whole genre leaves me a little cold. Like westerns (another category that leaves me equally nonplussed), the premise of many of the followups have failed to tread on any new ground. In films like these, the harshness and brutality of the street gangs is usually punctuated with one or two innocents who are bravely, often vainly, struggling to rise out of the mire.

Jacked Up touches on similar ground, but slightly goes against convention by introducing a genuinely sympathetic and likeable lead character who, in an early scene, murders a man in cold blood, and then spends the rest of the film trying to make amends in his own, sincere way. Set in the snowless industrial winter murk of Columbus, Ohio, director/writer Timothy Wayne Fulsome's Jacked Up does not come across overly gloomy, nor is it unnaturally idyllic, either. I'll admit that I haven't spent much time (willingly) in too many gritty gang-infested neighborhoods, but the locale of this film lends itself to a degree of realism, with the constant threat of violence literally just around the next corner.

Dre (Ronreaco Lee) and Shawn (T-Low) are a couple of seemingly normal 18-year-olds who, enticed by the age-old lure of women and power, try to become part of the local gang run by the snaky Zachariah (Bizzy Bone). Their initiation into the gang goes horribly awry when a supposedly unloaded gun results in the murder of an innocent man, and Dre and Shawn suddenly find themselves being forced to take different paths in life. Dre struggles with his fear and grief, while Shawn finds himself drawn deeper into Zachariah's violent gang.

The only real problem that I had with Jacked Up were some of the more seen-it-before moments in the plot, ones that seemed destined to lead to some inevitable and predictable high drama. Sure enough, they did. Midway through the film Dre develops a romantic relationship with the daughter of the man he killed, and some of the moments between him and Stephanie (Alexis Fields) tend to border mildly on the melodramatic, though it seems to be more a fault of the writing than of the acting. Those moments in the script are infrequent enough, and certainly offset by a fair amount of often unexpected violence; this is only a mild annoyance in a film that is anchored by a solid performance from Ronreaco Lee.

Lee has to carry this film, and even though his character of Dre is a murderer (intentional or not), he is supposed to be the person that we care about the most. Lee avoids eliciting too much gee-whiz goodness, while still retaining a believable personna as someone caught between two very different worlds.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Jacked Up has been released in a mediocre 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Artisan. There is a lot of fine grain throughout, and overall image detail is not very sharp. Interiors have weak shadow delineation, and this causes most of these dimly lit sequences to be hard to discern clearly. Exteriors shots fare better, though the limited color field retains a cold, industrial look that is reproduced well, which gives the film mood. I noticed a brief series of white specks during one particular night scene, but it seemed to be an isolated instance.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Jacked Up features a 2.0 Dolby surround track that remains solidly anchored across the front channels, without any rear channel activity. Voices generally sound crisp, but I was aware of some minor clipping during a few passages, especially when more than one character is speaking at the same time. Imaging is negligible, and music lacks the bass thump you might expect; this causes some parts of the soundtrack to sound a little flat at times.

No complaints, but a more aggressive mix would have been nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Timothy Wayne Folsome, Kevin Hightower
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Under the extras banner, writer/director Timothy Wayne Folsome and producer Kevin Hightower provide a full-length, scene-specific commentary track. Friends since childhood, Folsome and Hightower have a very natural, laid-back rapport with one another, and it comes across well here. Much of the content centers on how certain scenes were shot, and they are quick to point out the extras who are friends and family. I found Folsome and Hightower's input to be easy to listen to, and never dull or self-aggrandizing.

A short photo gallery of ten stills, a theatrical trailer, cast/crew bios and filmographies, Spanish subtitles and 14 chapters conclude the supplemental section for Jacked Up.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

I'm not a big fan of the "urban drama" genre, but Jacked Up is a fairly engaging one, and it's boosted by a couple of compelling performances. Ronreaco Lee is consistently strong in this one as the righteous Dre, while rapper Bizzy Bone is believably menacing as the thug lord Zach. Writer/director Folsome has assembled a script that doesn't skimp on violence, and still manages to tell a story that struggles to reveal a degree of promise and hope amidst the chaos.

Worth a rental.

Rich Rosell 2002-08-14