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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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  • 1 Audio commentary - Director's commentary with Scott Wiper
A Better Way To Die
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 98 mins . MA15+ . PAL


A film school graduate from Wesleyan University, Scott Wiper’s directorial Hollywood debut - although flawed - is both dynamic and exhilarating. Though released straight to video and DVD, A Better Way To Die is a taut, high-octane action thriller that belies its almost laughable budget of $2 million and is actually superior to a lot of the recent crop of the so-called 'action' films emerging out of Hollywood.

Boomer (Wiper) is a rookie cop based in the urban hellhole that is downtown Chicago. After his involvement in a drug bust operation which results in the death of Carlos (Carmen Argenziano), his mentor and father figure, Boomer becomes disillusioned with the brutal and inhumane nature of his job. Consequently, he decides to hand in his resignation to the Chicago Police Department and return to his home town of Joliet, where his fiancé, Kelly (Natasha Henstridge), awaits.

While en route back to Joliet, however, Boomer makes a grievous error in judgment when he stops for, and assists, an unfortunate motorist whose vehicle appears to have broken down; the naive ex-cop is swiftly attacked and rendered unconscious. Boomer awakes to find that his car and wallet have been stolen, and that he has become involved in a dangerous game of mistaken identity.

Through his somewhat bizarre personal odyssey, Boomer learns about the existence of an enigmatic government agent, Harrison James - who, it seems, has encoded a silicon chip with detailed information on the Chicago Mafia’s list of informants. Boomer finds himself unwittingly involved in an escalating war between the Mafia and the NSA - who both seek James and his chip for different reasons and are convinced that Boomer is, indeed, the government operative they are searching for.

For Boomer, his agenda is simple - to reach his beloved fiancé and home alive.


Columbia Tri-Star have produced a sterling transfer for A Better Way To Die in both the video and audio department, that just falls short of being reference material.

Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphic, A Better Way To Die contains three audio selections - the English Dolby Digital 5.1, the German Dolby Digital 5.1 and the English Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track.

Visually, this presentation is perhaps one of the best I have yet seen on DVD. Blacks are profoundly solid and shadow detail is superb, providing excellent contrast and definition. There are no MPEG artefacts, nor is there evident grain. Details are razor-sharp; there is no evidence of edge enhancement. There is some minor aliasing involving venetian blinds and automobile grills, and moiré is present in the film’s opening scene involving a vertical pan of Chicago’s skyscrapers. However, their impact on the viewing experience is non-existent.

A Better Way To Die excels in the audio department. Dialogue is always clear and strong through the centre speaker, while the other channels provide almost constant reinforcement to John M. Keen’s pulsating soundtrack and ambiance. Ultimately though, it is the numerous shoot-outs that punctuate the film which bring the soundfield to life; in these instances, there is very aggressive split-surround effect as bullets ricochet about the room. The subwoofer also provides extremely deep reverberation for gunfights and explosions.

Although there is no theatrical trailer present on this disc, there is an audio commentary by Scott Wiper. Fascinating and often startling, he reveals a rare insight into the world of guerrilla film-making. Presented in Wiper’s clear - if matter-of-fact - style, this commentary almost seems to be a verbal text book on the art of financing, writing and producing your own film, and will be of great inspiration to budding directors.

Overall, I found Wiper’s directorial style to be of more interest than the actual film itself. There are far too many severe logic errors and plot holes in A Better Way To Die’s story than I could tolerate - and, in most places, the script is derivative and inane. Definitely one for fans of the high-hokum, no-brainer action genre, A Better Way To Die certainly delivers the goods, making Wiper a talented and promising director in which to look out for.

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  •   And I quote...
    "... A fine example of guerrilla film-making. Punctuated with dynamic shoot-outs, actor/writer/director Scott Wiper has created an action film that is destined to become a cult classic... "
    - Shaun Bennett
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic SC-HT80
    • TV:
          Panasonic TX-43P15 109cm Rear Projection
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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