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Twenty years after its original release, Spike Lee’s racially charged DO THE RIGHT THING ($30) has earned its place amongst the movie classics of the 1980’s. During the two decades since its theatrical release, DO THE RIGHT THING has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Set in on the hottest day of the year in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, DO THE RIGHT THING tells and an incendiary tale of culture and personality clash, on a single street of this multi-ethnic neighborhood. Central to the story is Mookie (Spike Lee), who works as a deliveryman for the corner pizzeria owned for the last quarter century by Sal Frangione (Aiello), whose character is also a center point to DO THE RIGHT THING.

Sal is proud of his Italian heritage and decorates the pizzeria’s "Wall of Fame" accordingly, even if it isn’t representative of the neighborhood’s current ethnic makeup. Sal runs the pizzeria with the assistance of his two sons Pino (John Turturro) and Vito (Richard Edson), who have different viewpoints of the world, neighborhood and the very block where this story unfolds. Various residents of the block also wander in and out of the story, but as I stated previously, DO THE RIGHT THING takes place on hottest day of the year, so it is inevitable that tempers will rise along with the temperature… which leads the plot somewhere along the lines of a Greek tragedy. To say more about the storyline of DO THE RIGHT THING does a great disservice to those who have never experienced the film. The cast of DO THE RIGHT THING also features Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, Paul Benjamin, Frankie Faison, Robin Harris, Joie Lee, Miguel Sandoval, Rick Aiello, John Savage, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosie Perez, Roger Guenveur Smith, Steve White and Martin Lawrence.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made DO THE RIGHT THING available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Considering age and budget factors, the 1080p presentation is generally excellent. The image may not be as sharp or well defined as a brand new, big budget movie, but Ernest Dickerson’s terrific cinematography is very well represented here. Close-ups come across with the strongest levels of fine detail and do impress pretty nicely. Longer shots hold their own and the picture is pretty dimensional. Colors can be quite hot and vivid, but the hues are rendered with excellent stability and the flesh tones are attractive. Blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp. Contrast is just fine, as is the level shadow detail. Grain is noticeable, but not excessive and the picture maintains an organic quality.

DO THE RIGHT THING is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Age is a limiting factor, but this is a fairly strong track that originated in the Dolby Surround era. As a dialogue heavy drama, a good portion of the sound is localized in forward hemisphere with channel separations applied to sound effects and music. Less activity is directed to the rear channels, with the expected complement of ambience, street noises and musical fill making up the majority of sonic elements. Music does get a big boost, thanks to the lossless encode, with Public Enemy’s Fight The Power reaping the rewards. Additionally, the bass channel is fairly potent. Dialogue is crisp and clean. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is an older track with Spike Lee, director of photography Ernest Dickerson, production designer Wynn Thomas, and actor Joie Lee, while the second features Spike Lee again, offering new comments for the film’s twentieth anniversary. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Do The Right Thing: 20 Years Later (thirty-six minutes), Making Do the Right Thing (sixty-one minutes), Behind The Scenes (fifty-eight minutes), Cannes, 1989 (forty-two minutes), Editor Barry Brown (ten minutes) and The Riot Sequence (one minute). Deleted & Extended Scenes, along with a Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots close out the standard supplements. DO THE RIGHT THING is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

DO THE RIGHT THING is an important, culturally relevant film that has been given a strong presentation on Blu-ray. Recommended.



Do the Right Thing [Blu-ray] (1989)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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