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Image Entertainment presents

Death Toll (2007)

“Some people are just like dogs. They fiend for that moment, when they can taste it just one more time.”- The Dog (DMX)

Stars: DMX, Lou Diamond Phillips
Other Stars: Keshia Knight Pulliam, Leila Arcieri
Director: Phenomenon

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language, brief drug use, and some sexual content/nudity)
Run Time: 01h:20m:36s
Release Date: 2008-04-15
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

I’m sure I’m not the only one of you out there that would be at least a little bit curious about a movie whose cast sported the likes of DMX, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Rudy from The Cosby Show, herself, Keshia Knight Pulliam. Ok, maybe I am, but Death Toll is just that movie. This urban crime thriller is a direct-to-video affair that is definitely not for everyone, and, in my book, not for anyone. While we’re fortunate this never made it to theaters, it’s unfortunate that Image Entertainment is even making it available on DVD.

The city of New Orleans has had enough problems over the past few years, and gang violence is one of them. To combat this, the federal government deploys a unit of DEA agents, but unfortunately, they’re just as corrupt as the criminals. Mayor Padial (Lou Diamond Phillips) is a nervous mess who has no idea how to handle his city crumbling around him. Meanwhile, a pair of detectives tries to do their part to stop the madness, but prove just as ineffective as everyone else as they meander from hotel to hotel trying to solve various homicide investigations. This city under siege just might never recover from this crime wave.

The film wears its direct-to-video badge proudly, with extremely low budget production values and horrendous acting. While some of these performers are familiar, the rest seem to have been plucked off the street and taught their lines the day their scene(s) was shot. Nothing single-handedly cheapens, if not kills a film like ridiculously amateur performances and this junk is littered with nothing but that. Phillips isn’t exactly a perennial Academy Award nominee, but he has proven some acting chops in the past. Here, he’s playing at the same low level as the rest of the cast, since the paycheck still cashes the same whether he’s good or not.

Regardless of its subject matter, there’s simply nothing to like about a single minute of this film. Along with the aforementioned pedestrian acting, we have a script that the writers seemingly gave up on midway through writing it. Things are easy to follow along with at first, but about half-an-hour in, we’re left shaking our heads as to what, if any, sense we’re supposed to make of things. So many pointless characters come and go, throughout, that there’s no chance in relating to any of them, and they’re all far too easy to hate. This screenplay is one of the worst ever put to film.

It’s being marketed (on the DVD’s cover, at least) as a DMX vehicle, but, the actor’s character, The Dog, randomly appears to muse, nonsensically, about the proceedings. Seemingly a device to present this “story” as a Greek tragedy, it comes across as more of an attempt to qualify this trashy film as something more. All he does is yell at the screen, preaching about life on the street and how hard it is to survive. The problem is, we’ve heard this all before in rap songs and far-superior films, but the bigger problem is just how useless it is. Then again, the whole film pretty much defines the word useless.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer suffers greatly from rather horrible source material. Apparently shot on the lowest of budgets, the presentation is littered with soft images, horrible color-rendering, and a ton of dirt, grain, and other blemishes.

Image Transfer Grade: D

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, but neither track is even slightly impressive. The overall audio levels fluctuate far too much, even during a scene, while the dialogue is often too quiet and indecipherable.

Audio Transfer Grade: C- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bullet Boy, Katt Williams Live, Notorious BIG: Bigger Than Life, Life & Lyrics, War Dance
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Other than some pre-menu trailers for other Image releases, there aren’t any extras here.

Extras Grade: D-

Final Comments

Even DMX fans need not apply for a viewing of Death Toll. This complete waste of time is a cavalcade of amateur acting and a worthless script, that doesn’t even utilize DMX’s top billing. Image’s disc features average audio and video, but there isn’t a single extra feature on board.

Chuck Aliaga 2008-06-09