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Bloodrunners

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    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Bloodrunners



    Released By: Speakeasy Pictures
    Released On: March 7, 2017.
    Director: Dan Lantz
    Cast: Ice-T, Michael McFadden, Airen DeLaMater, Chris James Boylan
    Year: 2016
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Film:

    He's been a pimp and a pusher, a cop and a....kangaroo? So why not a bloodsucking, undead creature of the night? Original Gangster and New Jack Hustler Ice Capital T takes top billing in Bloodrunners, a look at 1930's Prohibition in America with a bit of a vampire twist. Can we call it, "fangtastic"? Probably not, but let's see what's going on here, in any event.

    It's 1933, and South Hampton, New Jersey is still in the grip of the liquor-banning Volstead Act. Quietly carrying on regular business by day, the township explodes with trade when the sun sets; as speakeasies and whorehouses cater to a selective clientele who demand instant gratification. Over at Rosie's Thorns, the local bordello, the whiskey and women flow in abundance, while Chesterfield's, run by the toe-tappin', smilin' and snappin', trumpet-blowin' Chester (Ice-T), provides dimly lit nightclub environment in which one can indulge in a few cocktails and take in a live band. And while both establishments do business with their fair share of seedy malcontents and ne'er-do-wells, the other constant is cops; bullish police officers like Jack Malone (Michael McFadden) who are looking for their cut of the action to look the other way.

    Things are about to go sideways, however, when Chester decides to that he and his partner, Victor Renfield, need to step up their game, in an effort to make their mark before they set up shop in the Big Apple. One of Rosie's girls turns up very dead in the woods, leaving a local preacher screaming about hell fire and damnation, and what should be a simple raid on a bootlegging transaction goes very wrong, leaving dead police officers and enough blood to paint the Town Hall twice over. A lack of conclusive evidence points the finger warily at Willie, a lowly employee at Chesterfield's, but officer Jack Malone has a crazy theory involving a dead German medic come back from the front lines of the first World War. Willie's plans to flee the city with his girl, Malone's plans to continue drinking, whoring, and taking hushmoney, and a crazy preacher's plans to keep on crazin' are put on hold when the unlikely trio of heroes discover the true, undead identity of the men running hooch in their town, and that sometimes...hooch is red and sticky.

    Watching the trailer for Bloodrunners, it is quite possible to imagine it as being the most entertaining movie ever made. There's Ice-T, dancing on stage, snapping his fingers and grinning, check out that stash of fake-looking severed fingers, bloody chaos colliding with 30's-era cars and clothing, whores, bullets, stakes...it looks like one hell of a good time. And to give this one its due, there are some moments of genuine awesomeness that pop up here and there throughout the running time of Bloodrunners. Most of these moments find Mr. Tracy "Ice-T" Marrow front and centre, waxing philosophically as only a hundred-and-some-odd years old man can, oozing his personality all over the screen. Some of these moments are fantastic because they're well written and acted, and some for the exact opposite, but there can be no doubt that the driving force behind the entertainment is Ice himself, who somehow manages to make a speech about social issues out of every appearance in front of the camera.

    And, to Director Dan Lantz's credit, there are some good things going on in Bloodrunners, some creative use of the format that ultimately limits the film, that being HD Video. Lantz's approach to direction and decisions regarding lighting and set dressing give Bloodrunners a surreal look at some points, which works out positively, but also seems out of place during other moments. To get the obvious out of the way, this is a low-budget endeavor, and it shows; some terrible CGI, inconsistencies in aesthetic from scene to scene, questionable angles, overuse of filters, and other flaws inherent to lack of money; and the brightly lit arena of digital high definition video showcases all of it. For the most part, however, the actors here are decent enough, ranging from good to better, and the concept of vampires running a criminal enterprise that thrives at night is an intriguing one. Ultimately, however, Lantz would have been better advised to put his prime draw in front of the camera for a little longer, and let Ice do his thing.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Bloodrunners comes to Blu-ray (DVD on a separate, included disc) in an AVC-encoded 1.85:1 transfer that has a few questionable moments, but is overall watchable. It's difficult to determine if the visual issues I was witnessing...some compression, artifacting, and ghosting...were the result of the HD video source, or the transfer itself. In any event, there are some strange things happening on screen, most notably a floating chunk of brick wall in the top right-hand corner that shows up during one scene where there is no brick wall. Blacks vary from scene to scene, and go from deep and solid to fluttery and gray, and the application of video filters and unconventional lighting is a hindrance to any revelations regarding detail. As was mentioned above, however, the film is watchable, just not without flaw.

    A lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 English Track is the main source of audio for the film, with English Closed Captions, and French and Spanish Subtitles available. The track is good for the most part, with dialogue remaining clear and decently balanced with effects and score. There are no hisses, pops, or other issues to contend with, though the volume level does vary slightly from scene to scene, lacking consistency throughout. It's still a perfectly serviceable track, however, with non-intrusive use of the surrounds and subwoofer.

    First up in the extras is a trailer for the film and a Gag Reel (4:45), highlighting the line flubs and crack-ups in the film, and is a pretty humorous outing.

    Three Deleted Scenes (5:13) include an alternate opening, and two short extended scenes (3:02) are also available. They're interesting to see, but it's easy to see why they were cut.

    A commentary is also included, with Dan Lantz and Michael McFadden (Jack Malone). This is an enthusiastic and very wordy commentary, with a whole lot of information on what went into the film, including the set design, Lantz's use of lighting, and tips and tricks when shooting a low budget flick...especially when it's a period piece. The two also crack jokes fairly constantly, making it a decent listen with no dull spots.

    The Final Word:

    For many, the allure of seeing Ice-T play a vampire will be the main draw of Bloodrunners, and they will inevitably gloss over the flaws of the film and enjoy it immensely....others will have difficulty getting past the unconventional look and hiccups of the film. Nonetheless, Bloodrunners has enough entertainment value to recommend it, but it's certainly not the prettiest film you're going to see in this newish world of high definition.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






















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