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While director Sam Raimi's THE QUICK AND THE DEAD ($15) isn't the best western of the last decade; it is definitely the most stylish. Raimi is renown for his own intense visual style and with THE QUICK AND THE DEAD he takes well known western imagery and reinvents it. The plot of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD centers around a quick draw competition that attracts gunfighters and shootists to the lawless western town ironically named Redemption. For every significant gunfight in the film Raimi adopts a different style, turning THE QUICK AND THE DEAD into a virtual textbook of cinema technique. 

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD stars Sharon Stone as Ellen, a mysterious woman gunfighter who rides into Redemption and enters the shooting contest. While the lure of a huge cash prize has drawn everyone else to Redemption, Ellen's real purpose is to settle an old score with the outlaw who controls the town. Gene Hackman portrays Herod, the outlaw whose legendary speed and skill with pistols has given him dominion over the town and everyone in it. Russell Crowe is Cort, a former outlaw who has renounced his old ways and now wears a cleric's collar. Herod, unwilling to let his old friend find true redemption, has Cort dragged into the town and forces him to fight or die. A pre-TITANIC Leonardo DiCaprio portrays the Kid, a young hotshot whose pistol skills rival those of Herod. The cast of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD also includes Roberts Blossom, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Pat Hingle and Gary Sinise.

Columbia TriStar has made THE QUICK AND THE DEAD available in both wide screen and full screen presentations. While the full frame version looks pretty good, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't watch the beautiful wide screen version of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD. The film is framed at its proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio and this presentation includes the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. THE QUICK AND THE DEAD is up to the standard of excellence that Columbia TriStar has established with numerous other DVD releases. There were times that the sharpness and detail almost seemed to be pushing the NTSC system to its limits. Color reproduction was equally phenomenal; the rich highly saturated hues were completely free from chroma noise. Excellent authoring kept digital compression artifacts to the barest minimum. 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack had a fun mix that made use of the discrete channels for zippy sound effects. Bass was solid for the film's explosions, plus it added thump to hoof-beats and gunfire. The track also had natural sounding dialogue that remained clean and intelligible throughout. A matrixed Dolby Surround and French language soundtrack have also been included, as have English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus are fairly simple and provide the standard scene and language selection features in addition to allowing one access to a theatrical trailer.

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD is good, solid entertainment that happens to look marvelous on DVD. Western fans, as well as fans of director Sam Raimi are going to want to add this DVD to their collections. Recommended.


The Quick and the Dead



DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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