DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Willem Dafoe as PAUL SMECKER
    Sean Patrick Flanery as CONNOR MACMANUS
    Norman Reedus as MURPHY MACMANUS
    David Della Rocco as ROC/FUNNY MAN
    Billy Connolly as IL DUCE

    Not Rated
    Studio: Franchise Pictures

    Directed by: Troy Duffy
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During the 1990s, independent crime films were a huge deal. A lot of this trend can be traced to Quentin Tarantino, but he wasn’t the only culprit. At the tail end of the decade, Troy Duffy released his Irish gangster angst film “The Boondock Saints.”

This film tells the story of twin Irish brothers living as lowlife in Boston. They work at a meat-packing plant, spending their time drinking and rumbling on the weekends. However, when the Russian mob starts to lean on the owner of their favorite pub – on St. Patty’s Day, no less – the brothers fight back.

After killing the two Russian mobsters, the brothers find themselves touched by the hand of God to rid the world of the evilest of men. They haphazardly start killing gangsters all over the city. A police detective named Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) investigates them at first, but soon finds himself at odds with bringing them down. After all, aren’t they doing a better job of cleaning up the streets than he is?

The real magic of “The Boondock Saints” is that it taps into everyone’s secret desire for vigilantism. Who hasn’t thought of how great it would be to just mow down gangsters in a rain of machine gun bullets? Can anyone really grieve the death of murderers?

The keystone to the film are the two brothers, played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus. Both are extremely good looking and charismatic young men. This helps build their sympathy for the audience, and it doesn’t hurt that they are offing bad guys.

However, the big star of the film is Willem Dafoe, who brings to life the character of Smecker in ways that are both brilliant and pathetic. Smecker isn’t the greatest character alive. He’s actually a bit of a jerk. However, he is where I felt my interest going.

There are problems with the film, though. Being Duffy’s debut performance, there are moments that lose flow and seem choppy. He tries to do freeze frame intros like you might see in a Robert Rodriguez movie, but they don’t entire work and aren’t entirely consistent.

While Duffy does a deft tap dance with chronology by letting Smecker talk the audience through the hits in flashback, there are times when things get so wrapped up in its own drama that they actually take you out of the moment.

Still, “The Boondock Saints” is a fine show for a first effort. It’s this generation’s “Death Wish,” and it’s worth checking out.

The two-disc DVD of the film is out in its unrated glory. I’ve never seen the original version, so I can’t speak as to whether the additions or changes were good. However, in my experience, these unrated versions of the film are hardly distinguishable from the original versions. They’re more of a marketing excuse to release as new special edition of the film.

The first disc is double sided and includes the widescreen and full frame versions of the film. Here’s where the best part of the extra features lies as well. There are two commentary tracks. One features writer/director Troy Duffy as he talks through the film. The other commentary is with Billy Connelly who plays the ruthless hit man Il Duce.

It seems an odd choice for a commentary from Connelly since Il Duce is only in scant portions of the film. Normally actors only are capable of commenting on their own scenes. However, Connelly does a fine job and delivers a commentary that is better than most actors.

“The Boondock Saints” was Troy Duffy’s first film. Oddly enough, it is also his last film to date. It’d be nice to see more of what Duffy could do. Maybe not a “Boondock Saints 2” (although I hear that is in development), but something that leaves a bit more of a legacy than just a single pretty decent film.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. Widescreen (2.35:1) and fullscreen (1.33:1). Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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