Miami Vice: The Director’s Cut—Universal (Blu-ray)

Video: 4.25/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 3.75/5

When detectives Ricardo Tubbs and Sonny Crockett are asked to investigate the brutal murders of two federal agents, they find themselves pulled into the lethal world of drug traffickers.

I will state straight out, I am a HUGE Michael Mann (the director of this film) fan. His attention to detail and way of drawing you into a film are second to none. I was REALLY excited to see him return to the Miami Vice scene and hopefully do the film the way he wanted to do the TV series. The end result was quite satisfying for me. So much so that I even imported the HD DVD from Europe so I could have the theatrical cut as well.

The film does lack some of the action that I know a lot of people wanted, especially since Mann set the bar for action sequences with Heat, but the mix of drama and intensity was enough for me. This release gets the same Unrated Director's edition as the original HD DVD release. I was hoping for a seamless branching version with both cuts. I liked the Theatrical Cut's lack of opening credits, but I love the character development of the Unrated Cut. I also wish they wouldn't have changed the music soundtrack for the end gun battle. I am not a big fan of the cover of Collin's famous song, and it was better left in the closing credits IMHO.

There was a broad mix of opinions on the HD DVD release for this film. Mann shot this film using digital cameras and like Collateral, the results varied significantly depending on the environment. Personally, I love the look of this film. For Blu-ray Universal has severed up a new encode with significantly higher bitrates. If anything, this makes the image look a bit grainier! So those looking for a more polished look will probably be disappointed. Scenes in normal daylight or with a lot of lighting in general are rich in fine detail and have a very polished HD look from the video camera used. Darker sequences vary in noise and sharpness and contribute to the inconsistencies in video. Since this was Mann’s full intention, it is hard to fault it. Plus I still think it adds to the mood and intensity of the film. Overall this is still one of my favorites for demonstrations and a great looking Blu-ray release.

The new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a bit of a step up from the already spectacular Dolby Digital Plus track on the HD DVD. Dynamics are a bit more impressive in the gun fights and the lower end is a bit more intense at higher volume levels. If you crank this one up, you’d better be sure you’re system can handle extreme swings and intense bass levels. The 50 caliber rifles will make you jump, I can guarantee it. Mann has always had a knack for providing rich soundtracks with great music selections and intense scoring and this is no exception. The mix is balanced nicely though there are some fleeting moments when dialogue sounds a bit obscured with the action.

Universal has upped the ante on the extras this time around. The HD DVD pushed the limits of their “U-Control” feature and this Blu-ray edition features the same cutting edge interactivity. From the U-Control setup menu you can turn on GPS tracking, a full picture-in-picture feature with behind the scenes footage and commentary, tech specs on everything from cars, planes to even the drinks in the movie, some cast biographies and a photo gallery. Bonus View compliance in the player is required. All of the standard features from the previous HD release are included along with a few more featurettes. There is a full length commentary with director Michael Mann and quite a few production features including locations, gun training and creating the look of the film.

My only real complaint with this release is the lack of the theatrical cut in the package. I was hoping it would be added via seamless branching. I can still see people unhappy with the frantic video but it still remains faithful to the theatrical presentation I saw and the DTS-HD Master Audio mix is incredible. Fans of Mann and great cop thrillers should definitely seek this one out.