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Buddy Van Horn
Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Evan C. Kim, David Hunt, Michael Currie, Michael Goodwin, Darwin Gillett, Anthony Charnota, Jim Carrey
Writing Credits:
Harry Julian Fink (characters), Rita M. Fink (characters), Durk Pearson (story), Sandy Shaw (story), Steve Sharon (and story)

Dirty Harry Just Learned A New Game.

Clint Eastwood straps on his holster again for the fifth and final screen case for Callahan, who finds himself on a "death list" of celebrity murder victims. He and his new partner also get ensared in the nuttiest City by the Bay vehicular chase since Bullitt, outracing a bomb-carrying, radio-controlled toy car. Catch future stars Jim Carrey as an ill-fated heavy-metal musician and Liam Neeson as a power-tripping director.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$37.903 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
Japanese Monaural
Portuguese Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 6/3/08

• Audio Commentary with Cinematographer Jack N. Green and Producer Richard Valdes
• “The Craft of Dirty Harry” Featurette
• “Dirty Harry Trailer Gallery”


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Dead Pool: Deluxe Edition (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 15, 2008)

Since Clint Eastwood openly mocks the idea of a new “Dirty Harry” adventure at his age, it appears that 1988’s The Dead Pool will remain the character’s final appearance. In this fifth installment of the series, Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood) actually finds himself lauded for once when he helps put crime boss Lou Jenaro (Anthony Charnota) behind bars. The SFPD pushes him to take on a PR role to capitalize on this, but they flinty Callahan resists this move.

The bosses allow Harry back onto the street with one caveat: he gets a new partner via Al Kwan (Evan C. Kim). They have to worry about threats from Jenaro’s goons but they also deal with an odd crime spree. Members of a film crew engage in something they call a “Dead Pool”: they bet on which celebrities they think will die first. When some of them perish under suspicious circumstances, the authorities get involved.

Pool may be most noteworthy for the future stars who appear in it. Jim Carrey plays a small part as the first celebrity to die. We also find Liam Neeson as the film director and Patricia Clarkson as a TV reporter. Heck, we even get a cameo from the members of Guns n’ Roses! (“Welcome to the Jungle” appears in a prominent early scene.)

Does Pool merit notice as anything other than an early effort from these celebrities? Yeah, though it’s not one of the franchise’s most notable features. On the positive side, I like the basic story of Pool. It’s an intriguing concept, and I appreciate the fact that the flick digs into it pretty well. Too many “Dirty Harry” flicks tend to veer off onto tangents that distract from the main narrative, but at a lean 91 minutes, Pool stays focused on the primary plot. Sure, it offers some related areas, but these don’t distract.

Despite its clever plot, Pool suffers from somewhat perfunctory execution. It doesn’t help that Eastwood feels detached from the proceedings. I won’t say he’s just punching the clock here but he doesn’t dig into the character as well as usual. There’s something forgettable about his performance here.

The movie’s style also fails to inspire. I can’t help but think that Pool should kick into a higher gear than any it achieves. The film entertains us to a moderate degree and keeps us interested, but it never quite sizzles.

And that makes it a minor disappointment. Granted, I never expected a classic from The Dead Pool, and I do think the result works acceptably well; it’s certainly not a dull or painful experience. It simply doesn’t live up to its potential.

Weird Cinematic Coincidences Footnotes: two big 1988 flicks featured characters with the name “Jenaro”, as John McClain’s wife in Die Hard went with that as her maiden name. (She spelled it “Gennaro”, but it’s pronounced the same.) 1990’s Die Hard 2 sort of connects to Dead Pool as well; that flick’s reporter character looks and sounds a lot like this one’s, and both are named “Samantha”.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

The Dead Pool appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I don’t expect much visual splendor from 1980s movies, but Pool looked pretty good.

Very few issues affected sharpness. A little softness occasionally crept into wide shots, but these usually seemed accurate and well-defined. Jaggies and moiré effects didn’t create concerns, and edge enhancement remained minimal. Print flaws also failed to distract. The movie showed a couple of small specks but nothing more substantial.

1980s flicks usually suffer from bland colors, but that wasn’t a problem with Pool. Though the tones never quite excelled, they looked perfectly solid. The hues appeared clear and concise throughout the movie. Blacks were deep and tight, and shadows looked clear. I felt pleased with this consistently positive transfer.

Since the first four “Dirty Harry” movies featured fine audio, I expected similar pleasures from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Dead Pool. And that’s what I got from this nice mix. Audio quality was solid. Speech sounded crisp and clean; no roughness or other problems influences the dialogue. Music was a little lacking in low-end, though I felt that reflected the production styles of the era; the score went with a pop/rock feel, and late 1980s music tended to skimp on bass. Effects showed good dimensionality, though, and reproduced the material well.

The soundfield opened up matters in a nice way. Vehicles moved around the room in a convincing manner, and other effects like gunfire and explosions popped up in the logical spots. These elements mixed together smoothly and created a nice sense of place. The surrounds added good pizzazz to the proceedings, while music featured solid stereo presence. The audio of Pool finished the series in a positive way.

When we look at the DVD’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from cinematographer Jack N. Green and producer Richard Valdes. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific take on the film. They discuss cast and crew, cinematography, stunts, how the flick came to be, story and development, working with Clint Eastwood, and locations.

As the sole two-participant “Dirty Harry” commentary, I hoped this one would be lively. Alas, it ends up as a pretty dull chat. The participants cover the basics in a rudimentary way but don’t go beyond that, and the conversation tends to plod. It’s a mediocre piece at best.

The Craft of Dirty Harry fills 21 minutes, 34 seconds with remarks from Clint Eastwood, Green, editor Joel Cox, composer Lalo Schifrin, former WB executive John Calley, critic Richard Schickel, filmmakers David Ayer, John Badham, George Gallo, John Lee Hancock, Peter Hyams, Shane Black, John Milius, Jay Cocks, James Fargo, and actors Andy Robinson and Michael Madsen. “Craft” looks at the work of cinematographers, editors, and composers. It provides a reasonable take on these technical elements and turns into a fairly useful little show.

The set finishes with a Trailer Gallery. It includes ads for Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool.

“Dirty Harry” Callahan makes his final film appearance via 1988’s The Dead Pool. The movie entertains to a moderate degree, but it doesn’t provide a particularly strong cinematic experience. The DVD presents very good picture and audio as well as a few decent extras. The quality of this release supports the film pretty well, but it’s not a great flick.

A purse-strings note: you can buy The Dead Pool on its own or as part of a seven-DVD “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” boxed set. That package includes Pool along with Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and the documentary Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows. In addition, the set gives fans a small book and some other non-disc-based materials that I’ll cover in the review of the package as a whole.

Purchased separately, the five movies would cost $80.90 MSRP, while the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” goes for $74.98. If you want all the films, it’s obviously the way to go.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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