York Entertainment presents
Bling Bling (2002)
"He's got the biggest rock of them all."- Tagline
Stars: Mark Clayborne, Arvin Silk Stevens
Other Stars: Brice Mc'Million, Adrian White, Daniel Nardangelt, Shaheed Hooper
Director: Mark Clayborne
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language, sexual situations, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:23m:54s
Release Date: 2002-11-12
DVD Review"Bling Bling" is a slang term referring to the lavish pieces of jewelry that rappers tend to fancy—the gaudy diamonds and huge gold chains that are all about making an impression. Bling Bling is also, it seems, a movie, and the title is actually fairly apt: all gussied up in a snazzy case, fitted with menus and scene selections, you get the impression that this is actually something you might want to buy on DVD. But I think I'm safe in saying that, unless you were somehow involved in the production, it isn't.
What it is, or at least what it appears to be, is a student film project, written, produced, and directed by Mark Clayborne with the assistance of the New York Digital Training Center. The story revolves around a corrupt record label, run by a man named Dice. Dice mismanages his artists, and then kills them when they try to break from their contracts. He goes one step too far when he has young rapper Little G killed, attracting the attention of the police and the vengeful wrath of Little G's brother (Capital H?).
That's the story, as far as I could piece it together. I believe it's highly unusual for such an inexperienced filmmaker's work to see release at all, let alone nationwide distribution on DVD. Perhaps that's because most student films aren't really worth watching as much as they are a learning exercise for those who produce them. Clayborne clearly still has a lot to learn. His script is cobbled together piecemeal, shifting focus halfway through from Little G to his brother; the character dies off-screen in an extremely confusing jump forward. Most scenes wander aimlessly, the actors seemingly making up the blocking on a whim, the hand-held camera trying (and failing) to follow their movements. Most of the dialogue is inaudible, and characters come and go without the audience knowing who they are or where they fit into the story.
Of all the movies I have reviewed for this website, Bling Bling was the most difficult to get through. In fact, I don't think it even warrants a release. I'm not being flippant or overly critical here either. I simply feel that it is deceptive marketing to release to DVD what is clearly the work of an amateur filmmaker, one who still has a way to go before he produces anything approaching a coherent film, and then to dress it up with glossy cover art and a slick tagline. The box to Bling Bling offers a very different movie than what's actually on the disc.
Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: D-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Bling Bling appears to have been shot on digital video (or perhaps even analog), but whatever the source material, this DVD looks pretty rough. Image quality varies quite a bit, for one thing, going from bad to worse when stock footage is used. Otherwise, colors look extremely washed out, black level is very poor, artifacts and aliasing are frequently obvious, and the transfer has an overall softness that obscures detail. Many scenes show an odd wavering effect, like a worndown videotape being run through an old VCR.
Image Transfer Grade: D-
Audio Transfer Review: The case bills this mix as "5.1 simulated stereo surround sound," and if you piece together all the contradictions in that description, you're left with a 2.0 DD track, and a pretty dismal one at that. It's basically a mono mix that sends the same data to the front three channels. Dialogue is frequently nearly inaudible, obscured by an ever-present hiss. No attempts are made to mix the audio into the channels or create any sort of creative presentation (making the clever choice of wording all the more curious). Overall, I'd say the audio is on par with something you could pick up with the microphone that's built into the average camcorder.
Audio Transfer Grade: D-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tail Sting, Barrio Wars, Ricco, Vicious Circle
Extras Review: Extras are limited to a trailer gallery, with spots for the feature and four other York Entertainment releases: Tail Sting, Barrio Wars, Ricco, and Vicious Circle. Chaptering is rather generous, with 30 breaks for the short feature.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsI feel a bit guilty coming down hard on what looks to be someone's film school project, but there's very little that's good to say about Bling Bling. The script throws together sex, rap, and violence with little concern for coherent storytelling, and the production values are so low as to be unwatchable. I'd applaud York Entertainment for giving a young filmmaker a chance and releasing a feature like this to DVD, but I can't imagine many consumers would be happy with a purchase.
Joel Cunningham 2002-11-10