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The Boondocks Saints: Truth & Justice Edition (Blu-ray Review)

The 1999 cult hit, The Boondock Saints has become an interesting sort of film to write about.  There are various camps that acknowledge the film differently.  Some see it as a fun, Tarantino-lite sort of film.  Others find it to be way too derivative and all style, blood, and swearing.  Then you have the frat boy devotees to everything that is Boondock Saint-related.  Finally, there is the set of folk that are indifferent, due to their feelings regarding writer/director Troy Duffy and his ego, when it came to his short-lived time as a Hollywood wunderkind, based on how he’s portrayed in the documentary Overnight, about Duffy’s rise to fame.  I am no superfan, but I did see this film when it was initially released on DVD, had a good time with it, and continue to do so. Now The Boondock Saints sees it latest release on Blu-ray, fitted with a strangely timed 10th Anniversary label for this “Truth & Justice Edition.”

Film: 

The Boondock Saints is set in Boston and revolves around the adventures of two Irish brothers, Conner (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) McManus.  Things are set in motion after a barroom brawl on St. Patrick’s Day ends with the brothers taking out a couple of Russian gangsters.  As the crime scene proves to be a mysterious sequence of events, an FBI agent, Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), is called in to examine the situation.  While he figures out how the whole event went down, the brothers turn themselves in, rightfully claiming self defense.  The brothers are deemed innocent, with the press claiming the act to be the work of heroes in a vigilante sort of way.

This, of course, is only just the beginning, as the brothers share a dream that has them believing they should be working to eliminate all of the evil (namely gang members) living in Boston.  The brothers decide to carry on this mission with the aid of their friend and former mob errand boy Rocco (David Della Rocco), who has plenty of information on where to locate the bad guys in Boston.

Now, the boys may be well educated and understand how to remain in secret when committing their acts of righteousness, but Agent Smecker continues to pursue them, as new crime scenes continue to emerge.  As Smecker continues his investigation, a Boston Italian mob boss, “Papa Joe” Yakavetta (Carlo Rota) soon becomes involved as well, which leads to the hiring of expert assassin, Il Duce (Billy Conolly), in an effort to take out the brothers.  What follows is a bloody and darkly comedic tale of truth and justice…loaded with swear words.

As I have stated, having seen this movie from a perspective that lacks the complicated baggage to really have effected my viewing experience, I can say that I continue to find The Boondock Saints to be a decently entertaining film.  The film certainly contains many stylistic flourishes to place it in the realm of “cool” territory much more than attempting to reach any real depth, but that does not make the film any less enjoyable.  Many criticisms I hear are in the ways that writer/director Troy Duffy has tried to mimic the style of Tarantino, but honestly, I do not see much there beyond certain touches, which have been done by many filmmakers since the dawning of the Tarantino sub-genre.  It does not feel derivative, just more along the lines of a film that is a product of its time.  What I do see is a film that manages to put a fun, original story together for the sake of creating a well made action film with some quirky dialogue and neat little touches.

The film does establish a pattern, which escalates as the film goes on.  The brothers will be in the process of getting ready to act, the screen will fade out, the fade back in jumps forwards in time, and has Dafoe’s character figuring out how the crime went down.  This leads to flashback sequences, with the action being explained by Smecker, who eventually has himself literally inserted into the scenes with the brothers, as he comprehends each new crime scene.  Sure it can be seen as a gimmick, but I found it to be quite clever and a fun way of entering each new scenario.

A highlight for me always revolves around Willem Dafoe’s performance.  Agent Paul Smecker is about as quirky as they come and perfect for the vibe of this film.  He is playing an over-the-top FBI agent who dives, head first, into crime scenes; has fun messing with his fellow police officers, while also teaching them a thing or two; and serves as a decent outside perspective, examining each new situation.  He gets many great lines within the film and is at the center of its most memorable scene.  Without Dafoe, this movie would easily not have garnered as much praise as it has.

For whatever reason, The Boondock Saints will continue to fall into a weird place that has people on different sides of how to regard it.  I will remain a fan.  It is a low budget action film that has established its own spot in pop culture.  It is the work of a man who managed to take his screenplay and make his film the way he wanted to, despite the problems he had in doing so.  The film still managed to be a success in an unlikely way (home video sales), which in itself should speak volumes for how it is appreciated.  While its flaws may revolve around the film’s juvenile sort of attitude set in a blood-soaked mob world, I can still find plenty of entertaining aspects scattered throughout that make it a solid film to revisit.

Video: 

So this edition of ­The Boondock Saints has apparently brought over the same transfer as the previous release of this film on Blu-ray.  As it stands, this 1080p/AVC encoded transfer is certainly not a bad one.  For a film that was shot on the cheap, it looks very good on Blu-ray, without suffering much from its age and lack of a huge amount of care going for such a small-scale movie in comparison to other big releases.  This is less a film about color and more of one that has plenty of grit.  With that said, the film does keep all of its natural grain intact, which basically runs throughout the film, while also keeping picture quality problems fairly low.  A couple spots, the darker areas, are a bit rough, but nothing that really hindered my viewing.  A muted color palette does enough to keep things simple.

Audio: 


The audio track is also the same as the last edition of this film.  Still, it is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is a good enough way to get across all of the gunplay and massive amounts of swearing that takes place throughout this film.  The gunplay in this film does come across very well and various music selections, dialogue, and background ambience is all mixed nicely here.  Again, for a small film, it packs quite a lot into its audio mix effectively.  The Boondock Saints does fall well enough in line with other action films as one that benefits from having a solid audio track that compliments the Blu-ray format.

Special Features: 

Ok, so things get interesting in this section.  For some strange reason, this Blu-ray edition of The Boondock Saints (which originally came out in 1999) has been tagged with a “10th Anniversary” label and dubbed the “Truth & Justice Edition”.  I honestly have no idea as to why.  It is two years after both the actual 10th anniversary of the film and the release of the film’s sequel, All Saint’s Day (which is when the first Blu-ray for this film came out).  Regardless, there is one new feature among a few others.  I should also note that this Blu-ray contains both the theatrical and director’s cut versions of the film.  The director’s cut adds maybe a couple seconds and might as well be the preferred and only version at this point.

The Boondock Saints:  The Film and the Phenomenon. The only new special feature on this disc.  It is a 30-minute retrospective on the film, featuring a four-way interview between Troy Duffy and the film’s stars – Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, and David Della Rocco.  A decent enough to watch as they talk about what it was like and how it affected them.  Certainly a nice feature for diehard fans.

Audio Commentaries by Writer/Director Troy Duffy and Actor Billy Connolly.  The Duffy track is interesting enough, as he lays out some of the difficulties and facts concerning the production and the reaction to the film.  Kept me interested, despite being a solo track.  Connolly is fun enough but lots of gaps plague this second commentary track.  I wish there could have been a new track, featuring the rest of the cast.

Deleted Scenes.  About 20 minutes of cut footage here.  Nothing really needed, but some extra material is neat enough to see.

Outtakes.  Nothing absolutely hysterical, but decent enough.

Digital Copy.  Now you can take the Saints with you via portable device.

Final Thoughs:

I have done enough to defend my opinion of this flick.  I think The Boondock Saints is a fun movie.  It is not great art, but I have enjoyed it for a long time (apparently 10 years, according to the label on the cover).  Without considering the baggage that comes with this film in terms of its position as a 2000s college staple or due to unpopular opinions about Troy Duffy, I can simply say that it’s an enjoyable, low budget action flick.  The disc is good enough as well.  If you did not already have it on Blu-ray, but enjoy the film, pick up this copy.  Those who already own it should not have to worry about grabbing this new one.  The video/audio quality is identical to the previous disc and only one new special feature and a digital copy are what you would be missing out on.  As far as newbies to this whole thing go, just give it a chance if you want to watch a decently entertaining action film.

Order your copy of The Boondock Saints here:

 


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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

3 Responses to “The Boondocks Saints: Truth & Justice Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gerard Iribe

    After the whole Troy Duffy spectacle of “Overnight” I refuse to watch anything that has to do with Boondock Saints. Dude had Hollywood eating out of his hand until screwed it all up!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    I’m sorry this is such a personal issue for you.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    I am too. I used to own the dvd way back in the day. Ended up giving it away.