‘L.A. Takedown’ DVD Review *** 010207
(1989) Region 2 DVD Review (This is a UK DVD Review, the DVD will only play on Region 2 enabled players.)
The Work = ***
There are movies by director Michael Mann that I know and love and then there are those that I have not yet gotten to see. One the ones I had not seen the one that I was oddly most interested in was the TV movie called ‘L.A. Takedown.’ A curiosity made at the end of the ‘eighties when the TV show ‘Miami Vice’ was on its way out, ‘L.A. Takedown’ is a crime drama following a group of police officers that go after a crew of professional thieves. Mann acted as writer/ director/ producer and ‘L.A. Takedown’ has trademarks that can be found in several other Mann features (most notably: the skilled cops and criminals.) He would go on to remake the TV movie in the mid-‘nineties as the great crime-drama ‘Heat’ but here the material has the feeling of an attempt at creating the next ‘Miami Vice’-like phenomenon.
Watching ‘L.A. Takedown’, I was surprised how close it resembled Mann’s cinematic remake. Of course while most of the plot points and some of the dialogue in ‘L.A. Takedown’ mirror what can be seen in ‘Heat’, the two are very different animals. ‘Heat’ is an underrated film and one of the ‘nineties best while ‘L.A. Takedown’ is an enjoyable but dated TV movie that will probably only appeal to ‘Miami Vice’ and Mann fans. While most of the central characters stayed the same when Mann made ‘Heat’ one odd change comes up with the leader of the criminals. In ‘Heat’ the character was called Neil McCauly (Robert De Niro) but here the character is called Patrick McLaren (Alex McArthur.) I have no idea what the significance is but the characters do voice much of the same dialogue. Also, it may have been my imagination but some of Mclaren’s attire had some similarities to the wardrobe of the character Vincent (Tom Cruise) in another Mann film ‘Collateral’.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ‘L.A. TAKEDOWN’ AND ‘HEAT’, SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH TO AVOID***
In Mann’s epic ‘Heat’ McCauly seeks vengeance on a crook that double-crossed him called Waingro. McCauly gets Waingro but the murder brings him within range of cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and ultimately costs McCauly his life. In ‘L.A. Takedown’ McLaren takes the same action but with a key difference: Waingro kills him. Hanna (Scott Plank in ‘L.A. Takedown’) witnesses the murder and after some taunting kills Waingro. The difference is probably attributed to ‘L.A. Takedown’ being much more of a story about the police officers than the criminals. In any case, the climax of ‘Heat’ was a much more satisfactory one for me.
END OF SPOILERS***
Ultimately the biggest reason to see ‘L.A. Takedown’ is to see the blueprint for the film ‘Heat’. While enjoyable, ‘L.A. Takedown’ really only will appeal to niche audiences. I enjoyed ‘L.A. Takedown’ and can moderately recommend it but the film is not going to be for everyone. Reccomended.
DVD = *
A poor transfer of ‘L.A. Takedown’ is what you can look forward to from this DVD release. Since there is no other option that I am aware of on DVD, a muddy VHS-esq looking picture and some abrupt edits (no doubt due to rights issues) are in store for your ‘L.A. Takedown’ viewing experience. Most notable of the cuts is the title sequence which appears to have been removed and replaced with a new, ugly, title added in. I don’t know for sure that this was an addition but it appeared to be.
Now here’s a strange thing. While the picture is poor and the sound is not anything to write home about there are a bevy of cover songs by Billy Idol in the film that I was surprised to hear. I was pleased that the rights to the music remained for this release and the film wasn’t overdubbed with some royalty free music. Granted the cover songs are not exactly the best Pop tunes ever but I was just happy that the soundtrack remained intact. I would be curious to know if the rights to the cheesy cover tunes were what helped prevent ‘L.A. Takedown’ from getting a release along with the special edition of ‘Heat’.
The bonus. The bonus? Theeee bonus. Scene selections is about all you can look forward to from this DVD. Well actually the DVD does come in a case so I guess that is another bonus. Oh, and crappy cover art. There, three bonuses that should make this purchase well worth while.
All Together = ***
Really this gets a moderate recommendation for ‘L.A. Takedown’ itself and not the poor DVD. It is a shame that Warner Brothers was not able to include this film as a bonus on the ‘Heat’ special edition DVD. ‘L.A. Takedown’ is enjoyable enough if you are a Mann fan or have a high tolerance for ‘Miami Vice’-ish TV. As of my writing this review ‘L.A. Takedown’ is only available on this crummy, Region 2, UK DVD. From what I can tell even this looks to be going out of print so if you are interested get a copy while you can. Like I say it will not be for everyone but I couldn’t help myself and enjoyed it. Recommended despite the DVD.
'L.A. Takedown' Links:
My review of Mann's movie 'Miami Vice' can be seen HERE.
My review of Mann's 'Public Enemies'