Colors arrives on Blu-ray
Dennis Hopper's seminal 1988 cop drama, Colors, remains a powerful, unrelenting piece of cinema and sees its UK Blu-ray debut for new and long-time fans to rediscover. From visionary director and Hollywood icon Dennis Hopper, Colors unravels with street-wise veteran cop Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) and his new, hotheaded rookie partner Danny McGavin (Sean Penn) grappling with their new working relationship on the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles and the endless acts of violence between the Bloods, Crips and Hispanic gangs. With Hodges nearing retirement and possessing a more level-headed, diplomatic approach to the gangs they encounter, the young and brash McGavin sees Hodges as weak and wants to fight the gangs head-on. Although, in time, the men draw closer to a mutual understanding, McGavin's antagonistic approach earns him a reputation with the gangs as tensions continue escalating towards an inevitable and tragic close.
With taut, naturalistic direction and a vision for this tense social environment, Hopper's style lends well to the setting and remains one of the first films to explore LA gang culture, even pre-dating the likes of Boyz N The Hood and New Jack City. What's all the more important is how it doesn't adhere to stereotypes and shows complex, well-rounded characters on both sides of the fence, and the tragic fate met by people caught in the violent cycle.
The performances are excellent and the film benefits from great dynamics between Duvall and Penn as the veteran and the rookie, with strong support from Maria Conchita Alonso as a girl from the neighbourhood who McGavin takes a liking to, plus Randy Brooks as an ex-gang member counselling youths. There are even small but pivotal roles from future stars including Don Cheadle, Damon Wayans and Glenn Plummer.
A special mention also goes to the late Trinidad Silva who steals his scenes as cool, laid-back gang leader, Frog. In fact, real gang members were also hired as guardians and actors in minor roles, but two were reportedly shot during filming. In prep, Hopper also auditioned local gang members for minor roles and Penn, the screenwriter (and no doubt others) participated in extensive "ridealongs" with the LAPD to become better acquainted with the world they would soon be portraying. The performances, sharp dialogue and visual storytelling in this urban LA setting are all backed by a great, contemporary soundtrack featuring artists as diverse as Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane and Salt-N-Pepa to Willie Nelson and more.
If you haven't seen the film, it comes highly recommended for any true cinephile or fan of the cop drama. And, If you've seen it before, the new Blu-ray transfer offers one of the best packages to experience the film in its strongest form…
The extras include an insightful interview with screenwriter Michael Schiffer (Crimson Tide, The Peacemaker) who shares stories and anecdotes about his time on the film (his big screen debut) and some of the controversies that came up after release. Plus, we have an interview with technical advisor and ex-LAPD cop Dennis Fanning who discusses the movie and his experience in the police. There are also a few deleted scenes which don't add a great deal but are interesting for added context.
For anyone curious about these cinematic rarities, powerful cornerstones of film which challenge convention and set new benchmarks, plus fans of cop dramas or Hip Hop and street culture, Colors is crucial viewing.
Colors is available on Blu-ray from 24 August from Second Sight Films.