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Music Video Distributors presents

Peter Tosh—Stepping Razor: Red X (1992)

"For some reason, the man who projects the revolutionary vibe without compromise is the man who will always get murdered."- Mutabaruka

Stars: Peter Tosh, Bob Marley
Director: Nicholas Campbell

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (drug use, language, and some violence)
Run Time: 01h:43m:30s
Release Date: 2002-09-10
Genre: music

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


DVD Review

On the evening of September 11, 1987, reggae musician Peter Tosh was having dinner with his wife and five friends when three men broke in to his Jamaican home, waving pistols and demanding money. When Tosh refused to comply, he and five others were beaten and shot repeatedly. The victims were rushed to a nearby hospital, but it was too late for Tosh. His murder is shrouded in controversy, believed by many to be a conspiracy act committed by those opposed to Tosh's beliefs. His outspoken, often militant stance regarding equal rights and the legalization of marijuana had earned him a reputation as the Jamaican Malcolm X.

From 1983 to 1987 Tosh recorded what he called the Red X tapes. These spoken dictations were merely recordings of Tosh speaking his mind, offering insight into his spiritual beliefs and observations of the world around him. Tosh titled these works "Red X" because when he signed his name on an official document, it always appeared to be followed by a red "X." He was convinced that this meant he was hunted by the devil for speaking the truth. Discovered in the home of Tosh's murder in July 1990, Peter Tosh—Stepping Razor: Red X offers excerpts from the actual Red X tapes, in addition to revealing interviews and concert footage.

Peter Tosh—Stepping Razor: Red X is a decent film that any Peter Tosh fan will surely enjoy. The interview segments with Tosh's former band mates, family members, and Jamaican natives are quite comprehensive. I especially appreciated the addition of subtitles for many of these interviews, as I found most of the dialogue unintelligible due to the thick, Jamaican accents. Many of the concert segments are exceptional, including a Saturday Night Live performance with Mick Jagger, and rare footage of Tosh performing with Bob Marley and the Wailers. The major problem with the film, however, lies in the editing. The footage appeared to be pieced together so quickly, that it is difficult to enjoy. It was especially frustrating to find incomplete versions of all of the musical numbers; as I was enjoying a particular song, it would be cut short.

Each moment of Peter Tosh—Stepping Razor: Red X is interesting and informative, but it is also too disjointed to truly get a feel for the life and death of Peter Tosh. As a result, I did not feel drawn into the essence of the film. Peter Tosh fans will more than likely find great value in this material, but the disorganized nature of this presentation is an undeniable disappointment.

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 full-frame transfer is comprised of various source material, but most of the film looks like dingy 16mm. Many film artifacts are evident, as is an abundance of grain, though video artifacts are kept to a bare minimum. Black level is fantastic, appearing deep and thick throughout. The archival footage (most of which appears to have been shot on video) often presents significant video deficiencies. Though a somewhat inconsistent transfer overall, the film-like aesthetic of the 16mm segments provides a pleasant visual experience.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 surround track is heavily biased towards the front soundstage. Much of the soundtrack is mono-centric, with only minimal stereo separation during musical segments. Bass presence is strong, while surround use is non-existent. The audio portions of the Red X tapes are in fairly bad shape, with a great deal of background noise, hum and hiss. The major downfall is a dreaded lip-sync problem, with visuals and corresponding sounds as far out of synch as several seconds. Otherwise, fidelity is clean and clear with little distortion. Overall, this is an even soundtrack with few problems.

Also available is a more anemic, 2.0 Dolby stereo track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sublime: Stories, Tales, Lies, and..., Heartland Reggae, Israel Vibration: Reggae in the Holyland, Morgan Heritage: Live at the London Astoria, Toots and the Maytals: Live at Santa Monica..., Rockers: It's Dangerous
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:14m:49s

Extras Review: The theatrical trailer is presented with 5.1 surround sound in a widescreen aspect ratio of approximately 1.70:1. It is nothing more than a teaser without music or dialogue, with only quick edits hinting at the central outline of the film. Though brief, the trailer is quite intriguing.

In a comprehensive biographies section, one will find text information on the production of the film, the Red X tapes, Peter Tosh, and several crew members.

Also included is an icon titled Also Available From MVD, which features trailers and footage from six other MVD titles.

Extras Grade: C-

Final Comments

Peter Tosh—Stepping Razor: Red X is a mildly entertaining film undermined by poor editing. Nevertheless, I found it a fairly insightful display of Tosh's music, spiritual beliefs, and his murder. Fans of Tosh and his music will undoubtedly be thrilled with the abundance of rare, archival footage, as well as the audio from the Red X tapes, though I imagine everyone will be disappointed in the brevity of the concert footage.

Brian Calhoun 2002-11-13