Is the American Gangster DVD Worth the Money?

American Gangster DVD CoverAmerican Gangster, the well-received cop/gangster movie starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, is now out on DVD. The movie is pretty good, though I’d say it’s a bit overrated. The pacing could have been a little better, and American Gangster definitely doesn’t compare to any Scorcese gangster flick (and it has been compared to those films). Still, American Gangster is a pretty good film with two really great actors squaring off against one another, and so if you haven’t seen it, you definitely need to check it out.

You can read my full American Gangster movie review here.

I just watched the bonus features on the 2-disc unrated extended edition DVD of American Gangster, and its value will largely depend on what you value as extra features. The DVD set comes with both the theatrical version and an unrated extended version which includes an extra 18 minutes. Considering that the regular American Gangster was long enough, I can’t say that an extended version is an improvement. Still, it’s great that Universal includes both versions in the release.

As for the bonus features, there are a couple of relatively uninteresting deleted scenes, including an alternate opening. Things get better when you move onto the making-of featurette, an over-hour-long look at several aspects from the film, including the elaborate Frazier v. Ali fight. There are segments that aren’t that interesting, but other segments are quite the opposite. What I liked most were the interviews with the real Frank Lucas, who speaks pretty candidly about his experiences. I would have liked to see a full featurette on the real Frank Lucas, however, or a feature commentary with Lucas and the real Richie Roberts.

The only other bonus feature on the disc is a collection of “case files”, which are some behind-the-scene looks at how the filmmakers prepared for the movie. It’s was fun to see Ridley Scott discussing minute details with the real Roberts, and also meeting with police officers to find out the best and most realistic way to show drug tests.

Overall, there’s really not much here, but there are some very nice nuggets to feast your eyes on. If you’re thinking of purchasing American Gangster, you should buy this 2-disc version, since you get two separate versions of the film and some unique insights into the making of the production.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: DVD Releases, Movie Reviews
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