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Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood, Wanda De Jesus, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Tina Lifford , Paul Rodriguez
Writing Credits:
Brian Helgeland, based on the novel by Michael Connelly

The key to catching a killer is only a heartbeat away.
Box Office:
Opening weekend $7.312 million on 2525 screens.
Domestic gross $26.199 million.
Rated R for violence and language.

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
English, French, Spanish

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 12/27/2002

• "Making Blood Work"
• A Conversation in Spanish with Actors Clint Eastwood, Wanda De Jesus, and Paul Rodriguiz
• Theatrical & Teaser Trailers


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Blood Work (2002)

Reviewed by David Williams (December 13, 2002)

At 72 years old, Clint Eastwood is on what could be considered his farewell tour; not only as a staple of great American cinema, but also from a standpoint that it’s becoming harder and harder to sell himself as a real life “action hero” in the types of roles that he built his career on in the past. While he still exudes his trademarked steely glare, raspy voice, and overall bad attitude better than anyone around, he’s simply starting to look older and it’s becoming much more apparent that the days of Dirty Harry and the Outlaw Josey Wales are getting farther and farther behind him. However, to Eastwood’s credit, he doesn’t try to do more than what he’s capable of and realizes the limitations of his age. Therefore, he’s able to remain a compelling figure in Blood Work, as well as other recent outings like Space Cowboys.

Eastwood’s latest, the aforementioned Blood Work, does what many of his more recent roles have done and utilizes his age to his advantage and offers up a very straightforward and rather undemanding thriller that relies more on plot than it does on rapid-fire edits, fights, and explosions. The film provides viewers with an unadorned, methodical and reasonably involving drama that unfortunately, has been done one too many times of late. After watching the film, I felt like you could have substituted “Ashley Judd” on the marquee for “Clint Eastwood” and you would have come up with about the same film. It’s not the film was bad in and of itself; it’s just that I expect a lot more from Eastwood than I do from Judd and that’s the reason I never caught the film during its theatrical run – I knew the kind of film Blood Work was going to turn out to be. Blood Work was adapted from the literary best selling thriller of the same name authored by Michael Connelly, with the screenplay written by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential).

During the film’s opening moments, we meet ailing profiler, Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) in a taxing foot chase with a suspected killer. After a few blocks, McCaleb goes down, gripping at his heart the entire time and the killer gets away. We quickly rejoin McCaleb a couple of years later - 60 days after a successful heart transplant and under the watchful eye of Dr. Bonnie Fox (Anjelica Houston). McCaleb’s recovering quite well and enjoying his retirement on his houseboat that’s docked in California’s San Pedro Harbor. He’s quite hospitable with Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels), his neighbor at the Harbor and someone who does nothing more than spend his days guzzling beer and working on perfecting the art of “slack”.

One day however, someone wanders on to McCaleb’s boat that changes everything. Beautiful Latina Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) has tracked McCaleb down because of his stellar reputation of being able to hunt down and get in to the minds of killers – so much so, that he was somewhat of a celebrity during his time on the force. Graciella’s sister, Gloria, was recently murdered in a violent convenience store robbery and she wants to enlist McCaleb’s help in catching the murderer. McCaleb respectfully declines due to health reasons and that’s when the bomb drops, Graciella tells McCaleb that he received his transplant on the very day her sister was murdered and the rare blood type that McCaleb and Gloria shared make it a statistical home run that McCaleb is now alive because of Gloria’s misfortune. Of course, now McCaleb feels that he has no other choice and agrees to help Graciella in her search.

The search for the killer begins much to the annoyance of Detective Ronaldo Arrango (Paul Rodriguez), a local cop assigned to the case, as he thinks that McCaleb is only back for another shot at making the headlines. Regardless, McCaleb’s investigation begins and requiring assistance from Buddy Noone, he once again commences the dangerous cat and mouse game of hunting down an old foe – one he assumed was already dead and whose identity, when discovered, is totally unexpected.

There aren’t a whole lot of surprises in Blood Work and most folks with a semi-functional brain will have the plot twists and turns figured out long before the film decides to telegraph them. The film unwinds at a lackluster pace and lets things happen in an orderly and systematic timeline. The plot is average and somewhat banal, the characters are mired in clichés, and the movie rarely registers on the ”suspense meter”. However, many of you already know what to expect before going in to this one and if that’s the case, you’ll hardly find yourself disappointed.

The DVD Grades: Picture A / Audio B / Bonus D+

Warner, as usual, gets it right where it counts and provides DVD viewers with another top-notch presentation in the video department. Blood Work is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and it simply looks grand. The image is continually tight and detailed and looks just like such a recently released film should on DVD.

Everything looks great from beginning to end, as Blood Work displayed quite a varied and very strong palette. While there was nothing spectacular about the palette itself, my compliments arise from the fact that Blood Work contains scenes during bright daylight and blackest night – in well-lit offices and dim bedrooms – and it handles them all perfectly. Indoor scenes were always nicely lit and perfectly balanced, while the outdoor scenes, especially the ones under the gorgeous California sun, were quite inviting. Balance and contrast were right on the money and there was never any bleeding or oversaturation noted. Black levels were strong throughout and in turn, allowed for excellent shadow detail and delineation – no breakup, murkiness, or muddiness were ever detected. Ultimately, Blood Work was a very pleasant viewing experience.

Issues with the print were miniscule, as I noticed a bit of shimmer on some hospital blinds and lightly colored walls early on in the film, an ever-so-slight amount of edge enhancement in a couple of areas, and some barely discernable grain. Print flaws were practically non-existent and the other flaws mentioned definitely didn’t distract from the enjoyment of the film itself. Major anomalies were never a concern and Blood Work was just a few flaws short of perfection.

Another in a long line of winners from the fine folks at Warner. Blood Work looks amazing and fans of the film will be elated when they see the fine treatment Warner has given the film for home viewers.

Warner provides viewers with a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Blood Work and while the film is definitely more drama than action, there were quite a few moments in the film that displayed some nice authoring on Warner’s part.

While the majority of the film is front and center, there were plenty of instances that strayed from the front soundstage. One of these instances was during the opening sequence where we have some helicopters hovering over a crime scene and they do a really nice job of playing around in each and every one of your speakers to provide an impressive showing right off the bat. While the film isn’t chock full of these types of moments, Warner leaves us some small clues to their impressive authoring with some nice stereo separation (doors opening and closing off screen, as well as some dialogue) and a splash of low end, as the LFE comes to life during a dream sequence that contains some very deep and cavernous gunshots. As a whole however, there was little ambience in the track, as the majority of the time, reinforcement was only heard in outdoor scenes by the sea and busy indoor scenes at the police department and on the boats used as sets in the film.

Dialogue was always front and center and was always easily understood. There were times, especially early on, where speech was a bit muffled, but it never got to a point where distortion or edginess distracted from comprehending what was being said. The jazzy score from Lennie Niehaus sounded quite nice and received some impressive reinforcement from the surrounds as well.

Warner has also included a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in French, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

As with many Warner titles, extras are rather spotty and Blood Work is no different. There are no “meaty” supplements to delve in to and things get started quickly enough with Cast and Crew. This section is broken down in to two smaller sub-sections – one for the Cast and the other for the Crew. (Duh!) Inside of the ‘Cast’ section, we find filmographies for Clint Eastwood (Terry McCaleb), Jeff Daniels (Buddy Noone), Anjelica Huston (Dr. Bonnie Fox), and Wanda De Jesus (Graciella Rivers), while other cast members listed, without any information, include Tina Lifford (Jaye Winston), Paul Rodriguez (Det. Ronaldo Arrango) and Dylan Walsh (Det. John Waller). The ‘Crew’ section includes information on Brian Helgeland (Screenplay) only and lists Michael Connelly (Author of Novel), and Clint Eastwood (Producer/Director).

Making Blood Work (18:09) is our “First Look” featurette and contained within, we find nothing more than the usual extended trailer for the film. We get interviews with the principals, as they discuss the story and how their characters play in to it, how they came about their role in the film and any research they did to prepare, “backslappy” comments for Eastwood and Daniels, feel good comments about the film in general, and on and on and on. Take any standard-fare “behind-the-scenes” supplement you’ve ever seen and simply interchange the film to Blood Work and you’ll get a good indication of what to expect.

Interviews are intertwined with clips from the film and from behind-the-scenes and after you’re done, you’ll get an odd sense of déjà vu, as "Making" is the same feature you’ve seen before on almost every DVD you own. (As a side note, be careful!, as the extra gives the film away. I’d make sure I watched the film first before I watched this extra.) While it wasn’t a bad extra by any stretch, there just wasn’t a whole lot to set it apart either. Interviewees on the supplement included Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Houston, Wanda De Jesus, and Paul Rodriguez.

For whatever reason, Warner has seen fit to include A Conversation In Spanish With Clint Eastwood, Wanda De Jesus, and Paul Rodriguez (14:18). Yes, that’s the actual title of the extra and it delivers exactly what it advertises – a conversation with the trio in Spanish (or at least for 95% of the extra). Thankfully, for those of us who didn’t pay much attention in high school and college Spanish classes, we have subtitles available to us in English, French, and of course, Spanish. After an intro that goes on way too long using a scene from the film, the trio, individually and as a group, discuss the film itself, character motivations, stories from the set, the recent success of Latino actors in Hollywood, and all of the other generic subjects you’d expect to see in a fluffy promotional piece dealing with a feature film. Believe me, this is nothing more than an extended trailer for Blood Work and you’ve seen this type of extra a million times over – the only difference is that the principals speak in Spanish rather than English.

Finishing off the disc are the Teaser Trailer and the Theatrical Trailer.

Not a lot to write home about here and fans of the film will find themselves sorely disappointed. However, given the box office take for the film, Warner more than likely made a quick-and-dirty business decision and left the DVD edition of Blood Work rather bare.

While the disc is strong where it counts – in the A/V department – it’s a little too light in the extras department to recommend a sight-unseen purchase for those other than hard core fans of the film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5777 Stars Number of Votes: 45
10 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.