To Live and Die in LA (Blu-ray Review)

To Live and Die in LA (Blu-ray Review)Fresh out on the Blu-ray format this month is William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in LA.  The 1985 cop thriller contains a pretty impressive cast, but how does this movie withstand the test of time?  More importantly, how does the film look and sound in its Blu-ray debut?  We’ll answer those questions and more in today’s Blu-ray review…so read on!


First things first, this isn’t exactly a cop movie.  To Live and Die in LA follows the hot shot Secret Service agent Richard Chance, played by William Peterson (CSI), who does more than, just like his namesake, take ‘chances.’  He becomes almost obsessive in his chase of suspected counterfeiter Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe; Platoon, Spiderman) who always seems to be a step ahead of the game.  Joining Chance is the aid of new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow; Law and Order, Ally McBeal) whose by-the-book style is just a little cramping for his teammate’s unorthodox practices in the field.  You’ll also find Transformers star John Turturro along for the ride as the cocky and stubbornly determined Carl Cody. 

I love the music of the 1980’s, yet the occasional synthesized sounds of the film are anything but reminiscent.  These distractions, along with the unlikely Secret Service practices and an unrealistic death scene (no, a shotgun blast to the head will not allow you time to groan), were just a few of the things that had me drifting from the value of this film.  Another issue was my complete and utter detachment from the characters.  I had no distaste for the bad guys and no feeling towards the good guys.  In short, I didn’t care one way or the other what happened to who.  It was almost like everyone’s development was rather shallow.  The characters never really grew much outside of their initial on-screen introduction. 

On the bright side, there is some intrigue and cat n’ mouse strategy played out during the course of the movie.  Tensions run high and chases ensue and you will witness Agent Chance’s overzealous struggle to catch his man, which becomes more obsession than occupational duty.  There is also his focused intent to overlook the law-abiding recommendations of his partner.  Still, these aspects did little to curb the predictability of the content. 

All the actors perform impressively in front of the camera and the story does move with obvious fluidity.  There’s just something about it that brings the film down.  There are good movies and there are great movies and while To Live and Die in LA was probably a good movie in the mid-80’s, its content, unfortunately, does not fare well today.  Don’t get me wrong, this film is still worth a viewing, but it lacks greatness and is a rental at best.  If it’s 1985, I give this movie a ‘4.’  By today’s standards, I give it a ‘3.’  Let’s meet halfway and settle on a ‘3.5.’

 To Live and Die in LA


The visual quality is ho-hum.  It’s definitely far from bad although it doesn’t reach new heights.  There is a fair amount of grain in this film, but the real drawback here is a rather detail-lacking picture that Blu-ray is very capable of.  The visual quality of the scenes is inconsistent at times going from average (lacking detail) to great (you can count the beads of sweat on someone’s forehead) and back to average.  At some points, the colors don’t necessarily jump out at you either.  Granted, you’ve got some very blue collar scenery that contributes to the dullness, but factories aren’t necessarily painted bright orange and blue so I’m not going to fault the disc there.  Other times, the imagery is quite vibrant and beautiful.  In the end, however, it’s just not an overly attractive image as much as it could be.  Technical aspects include the obvious 1080p resolution, an AVC encode, and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  

To Live and Die in LA


For the most part, To Live and Die in LA is a front-heavy movie.  The dialogue gives preference to the front speakers as is usually the case.  Your rear channels will breathe now and again as the music is what truly brings these to life.  The subwoofer isn’t something used with great emphasis, as unfortunate as it may be.  The gunshots and some of the lines just sound poorly recorded, as if it were done inside an empty beer can.  The rating isn’t going to suffer for this as it’s not the fault of the transfer process to Blu-ray.  One still has to consider the sound as a whole though.  While you won’t find perfection here, you will find something a little better than ‘OK.’ 

To Live and Die in LA

Special Features 

Trailers are the only goodies you will find on the disc.  They are:

  • To Live and Die in LA
  • Hart’s War
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Bulletproof Monk

Anything behind-the-scenes of the feature film would have been a welcomed addition here.  Heck, a History Channel documentary on counterfeiting would have been a perfect fit.  Unfortunately, we get nothing more than a few trailers that aren’t worth visiting more than once.  What’s the bright spot?  The Bulletproof Monk trailer is in high def.

Oh I almost forgot.  There’s a dvd of the movie included as a second disc.  My recommendation?  Find the marketing people who thought this was a good idea and demote them.  We have Blu-ray.  Why in the world are you packaging a dvd with it?  The last time I bought a CD, I don’t remember an 8-track being included.   

To Live and Die in LA

Final Thoughts 

As previously mentioned, To Live and Die in LA is easily worth a rental.  Unless you were a big fan of this movie when it came out, it’s a difficult task for me to say, “Own it!”  Nevertheless, if there’s any way to enjoy this movie, it’s on Blu-ray.


Bring home To Live and Die in LA on Blu-ray today!




To Live and Die in LA Blu-ray Cover Art




3 Responses to “To Live and Die in LA (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Thor

    Hot damn I’m a huge fan of this one. Yes its extremly 80’s but I loved how it twisted alot of the cop movie cliches of that decade on its head and blew me away with that car chase and surprise ending!

  2. Brian White

    Hmm…I never saw this one. Glad to hear the video is above average. I just watched the worst Blu-ray today I ever saw on the format…28 Days Later…and I thought Dog Soldiers and Die Hard looked bad. Wow!

    I LOVE this line… “The last time I bought a CD, I don’t remember an 8-track being included.”


  3. Gerard

    Love this film. The scene in the church where they’re staking out the house across the street is in my hometown–hell, it’s down the street from work! There’s a hotel on that block now, but the other 3 corners of that block remain untouched.