BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
I’m not sure if it is Tangerine Dream’s electronic score or Tommy Lee Jones’ performance as the veteran who takes over Central Park for about two days or the subject matter itself of pushing back against the system that makes The Park is Mine work so insanely well. All I know is that this First Blood knock-off is much better than it has any right to be and that’s saying a lot about HBO’s low-rent movie. This made-for-television flick – one that the cable network essentially dumped onto viewers in the wee hours of morning back in late 1985 – is, rather shockingly, finding its way onto blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber’s impressive handling of some pretty insignificant genre titles.
Everything deserves a second chance - even this silly film.
Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern, the action film is about a down on his luck veteran who, sick of watching his fellow servicemen flounder back in civilian clothes and take their own life because of there being little chance for them to get ahead, actually does something about it. He loads up on guns (some with live rounds), wires Central Park with explosives, and camps out for two days, claiming the park as his and – because he receives national attention and is getting the stink eye from every cop he sees – becomes something of a cult hero.
And when Stern can’t keep our interest, Jones is there delivering yet another strong performance as the vet on the edge at odds with the New York’s finest as their higher ups try to suggest he’s everything from a looney bird to a terrorist. Nothing sticks and that partly due to the great Yaphet Kotto as Eubanks, the only cop who cares about NOT sticking up for the sniveling Deputy Mayor (Peter Devorsky). The film also stars Helen Shaver as an independent journalist who gets caught up in Jones’ passionate plea for compassion and strength.
With the issues all Vietnam veterans faced at the forefront, The Park is Mine is a solid reminder of what everyone who never served takes for granted. We have steady jobs, good relationships, solid homes; all that stuff. The Veterans at the center of the picture are fragments of their former selves. They are broken, unable to hold down a job, tortured by undiagnosed PTSD, and penniless, with no real hope to climb out the hole of poverty.
But not today. Jones plays one veteran that is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any longer. He’s got the guns, the military know-how, and a detailed map of Central Park. He also doesn’t want to hurt anyone; he just wants to make a point about how to push back against the powers that be.
The Park is Mine is not edge of your seat entertainment by any means. It is; however, very prophetic and poignant in its description of veteran’s issues. And, since it involves the seizing of our own parks from which to make a soulful declaration, it’s a hard film to shake. Jones makes a case that is both heard and felt and, while you make disagree with his tactics, there’s no denying his message is true.
Released and then forgotten, it makes its blu-ray debut this week thanks to Kino Lorber and, should genre fans consider it, The Park is Mine makes for a helluva double feature alongside another movie Jones was a part of, 1977’s Rolling Thunder.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 102 mins
Director: Steven Hilliard Stern
Writer: Lyle Gorch
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Helen Shaver, Yaphet Kotto
Genre: Action | Drama
Tagline: He's a one man revolution and he's going to war against the city of New York.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Sneak into places, blow shit up, and kill people."
Theatrical Distributor: No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: December 13, 2016
Synopsis: A vietnam vet (Tommy Lee Jones) takes forceful control of Central Park to remember those who served and died in the Vietnam War.
Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - December 13, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Released on 1080p by Kino Lorber, the HD presentation is indeed a step up from the any version we’ve seen previously of this film. Colors are saturated a bit more. Black levels are thickened. There’s a nice new coat of paint to much of the city – even if the film was shot in Toronto and not New York City. Buildings are detailed. Leaves are solid green and, if you look hard enough, you will see snow falling in some of the scenes. Clothing is detailed and Jones’ face – while never handsome – is certainly interesting to look at; all those lines (yes, even back there) seem chiseled a bit deeper thanks to this expressive transfer. The sound is presented in a solid DTS-mono track and the picture is a bold 1.85:1.
Provided by Film Historian Nathaniel Thompson, the audio commentary is an interesting one. It is worth a listen as Thompson pours over the film’s shooting and production history. It is also the only supplemental material.
Do we count a trailer gallery for other films as a supplemental material?