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Cop Land (Blu-ray Review)

The late 90’s have caught up to me again, yo! Cop Land was to be the ensemble drama to end the decade. You had Sylvester Stallone, Ray Liotta, Harvey Keitel, and Robert De Niro headlining the film, but you also had Stallone not playing an “ordinary” character. Up until that point he was known as the hero and action star. Would this be his time to get an Oscar as opposed to just starring in a film named Oscar. Okay, that was a bit of a reach there, wasn’t it. Well, almost fifteen years later, and here we are with Cop Land on Blu-ray. How will this film stack up to scrutiny? Will Stallone’s performance shine through? How will the supporting cast perform? Will they chew up the scenery or will they let the film breathe a little? All this and more will be answered as Why So Blu tackles Cop Land on Blu-ray. 

Film 

Cop Land is the story of a small town in New Jersey called Garrison, but nicknamed “Cop Land” due to it having a large population of police officers from New York and surrounding areas live there. Crime doesn’t exist in Cop Land, because the town is literally the law. Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) keeps the peace as the town Sheriff, but it’s an obviously thankless job that borders on self parody, because the powers that be have given him the plush Sheriff’s job as almost a gag gift. Freddy is partially deaf and isn’t really the sharpest tool in the shed.  It’s all done for appearances sake.

One night while off duty and driving on the highway, off duty officer Murray Babitch (Michael Rapaport) is nearly ran off freeway by a couple of hoodlums. Fearing for his life, and thinking he’d just been shot at, Babitch opens fire killing them both. Sensing a political feeding frenzy, Babitch’s uncle, Ray Donlan (Harvey Kietel) covers up the incident involving his nephew. This is where the conspiracy begins. It involves city officers that live in Garrison which brings the drama over to Freddy’s world. It also brings out tenacious internal affairs agent Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) out to Garrison to investigate.

Freddy does his thing by assuring the investigating officers that all of his residents are clean. This doesn’t sit will with Tilden, because he knows that Freddy is being taken advantage of. Cop Land is a film that functions on the performances of its actors. At the time, Stallone was one of the last people on Earth that you would expect to play a role like the one of Freddy. When the film was released, he was given much props for his performance. I think he did an excellent job, and made me be a bigger fan of James Mangold’s work. Cop Land is also a straight up urban western film disguised as a procedural police drama.

It functions well as a western, because all of the typical western conventions translate directly over to the police world. The situations Freddy is put into are really what drive the film forward and make somewhat difficult to watch, because Freddy is technically an impaired adult. People are mean and make fun of him throughout the film, but we’re left unsure as to whether he will rise up and stand up for what’s right. Cop Land features great performances by Stallone, De Niro, Kietel, Liotta, an others. It would be one of Stallone’s last films before his popularity dwindled in the coming decade. I’ve always been a fan of Cop Land, so this Blu-ray was a no-brainer.

Video 

Cop Land is presented in 1080p, 1.85:1, widescreen. Shot on 35mm film, the print has survived for almost fifteen years in tact. Yes, it won’t win awards for demo-worthiness, but it looks pretty good on Blu-ray. Grain is levels are present and are decent. Flesh tones are natural, and so are the colors. Certain scenes were shot under overcast skies, so you may want to take that into consideration. Softness is never an issue, and sharpness levels are balanced. I did spot the occasional dirt spec here and there along with an occasional scratch, but it did not affect my overall grade that much. Cop Land is one of the better looking catalog titles out there. 

Audio 

Cop Land is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Cop Land is mostly a dialogue driven film with spurts of action throughout. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. Levels never become harsh or grating. LFE levels shine during certain key scenes, in addition to the shootouts. Ambient sounds are present in the rear channels, so that was a welcome bonus. Most catalog titles have lousy rear surround placement, but not Cop Land. I would say that the video and audio specifications perfectly balance each other out. I enjoyed the audio presentation on the Blu-ray.

Special Features 

A small helping of special features, but there’s a really cool audio commentary with Director James Mangold, Prodcuer Cathy Konrad, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert Patrick that’s pretty entertaining. There’s a making-of featurette that examines Cop Land for the western that it is. We get some deleted scenes and a storyboard comparison to boot.

  • Feature Commentary with Writer/Director James Mangold, Producer Cathy Konrad, Sylvester Stallone and Robert Patrick
  • Cop Land: The Making of an Urban Western
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboard Comparison

Final Thoughts

Having owned the previous special edition DVD and seeing the film in theaters back in the day, experiencing the Blu-ray in all it’s high definition glory was exactly what the doctor ordered. Cop Land is an urban western, and with a cast like that, you know how things are going to play out. It takes no prisoners, is very entertaining, and Stallone gets to act again. His character is the most vulnerable, but he is our hero, so it was sort of like being a fly on the wall whenever he was onscreen. The supplemental features on the Blu-ray are decent enough; the commentary being the best. It’s a great priced catalog release that deserves your attention.

 

 

Order Cop Land on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

3 Responses to “Cop Land (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Despite being a huge Sly fan, I have never seen this one :(

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Of course you haven’t, Brian. ;)

  3. Brian White

    I really do think it’s the cowboy hats that always scared me away from this one.