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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Helluva Ride
I saw this film when it first came out and just HAD to own it as soon as it was available.
Willem Dafoe and William L Petersen respectively play a flamboyant but tough counterfeiter and an utterly determined Secret Service agent out to bust him for murdering his partner on the eve of his retirement. Neither will make any compromises.
In my humble opinion this...
Published on 29 Dec 2004 by V. WILLIAMS

versus
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT the special edition!
I've waited a long time for this film to be released on DVD. Waited. And waited. AND waited. I've watched it so many times on crappy vhs that the film has already run its course for me by this belated release. Fans of the film will be treated to a very pleasing re-master and sound.
What they won't be pleased about is that this is not the special edition released in...
Published on 4 Oct 2004


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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Helluva Ride, 29 Dec 2004
By 
V. WILLIAMS "veejaydubya" (Bucks, UK) - See all my reviews
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I saw this film when it first came out and just HAD to own it as soon as it was available.
Willem Dafoe and William L Petersen respectively play a flamboyant but tough counterfeiter and an utterly determined Secret Service agent out to bust him for murdering his partner on the eve of his retirement. Neither will make any compromises.
In my humble opinion this film depicts the meeting of an unstoppable force and an immoveable object.
I will not reveal the plot of this magnificent film because I do not want to spoil it for anyone coming to it anew.
William Friedkin (French Connection, The Exorcist) directs a well paced script and look out for a Nicolas Roeg (Performance) moment - Willem Dafoe and a certain kiss. There's a helluva car chase that pushed the envelope hard, in terms of having real stuntmen in real cars and no CG in dem days.
John Turturro (Secret Window) portrays a fall guy who would rather die than "rat" on his boss despite knowing that the man has him on his "hit" list.
There's a real edgy feeling of danger through this film spurred on by an amazing soundtrack featuring Wang Chung.
The VHS version was deleted some years ago and the DVD release has been a long time coming.
This DVD has a modest price tag but is not modest entertainment.
Two words, "BUY IT".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even with the toe kneading, we have a movie that is exciting, irritating, nasty around the edges and a pleasure to watch, 16 July 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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To Live and Die in L. A., in my opinion, is a first-class movie, just as a scoop of jamocha almond fudge is a great cone. But it's unnerving when after three or four satisfying licks of jamocha all of a sudden you're handling the taste of tutti-frutti. What the...but then you're back quickly to the jamocha...wait a minute, now I've got a taste of raspberry-pumpkin to deal with.

William Friedkin's movie about a murderous counterfeiter and an obsessed, out-of-control Secret Service agent who is determined to kill or capture him has many pleasures. Among them is Willem Dafoe as Rick Masters, a first-rate counterfeiter, a second-rate artist, a clever man with a big, cunning ego and a dangerous lack of humanitarian standards. Masters is a killer, and Dafoe, with his bony face, full lips and watchful eyes -- and outstanding acting talent -- makes the most of the part. There's a terrific, white-knuckle car chase through a truck-crowded produce market and then the wrong way on a crowded freeway. And Friedkin makes the most of the story, from telling us all we would ever want to know about how to counterfeit $20 bills, and doing so in fascinating detail, to building a gallery of sleazy criminals, used women and all-too-flawed cops. The drive to bring down Rick Masters is built up of set piece after set piece, each a building block which is put in place with a great deal of assurance. I enjoyed myself no end. But in a disconcerting way, while I could see the superb talents of the director who gave us The French Connection (a great film), The Night They Raided Minsky's (a bit of burlesque nostalgia put together with skill) and The Exorcist (a huge crowd pleaser), there also were enough "why did he include this?" moments that brought to mind the whole string of movies he's made that just didn't work well. Friedkin throws in everything from a toe-kneading lesbian subtext, unnecessary full frontal (for a second or two) male nudity, an easily ironic "whose the tough guy now" closing and a climax reminiscent of the Frankenstein monster staggering around in flames. Friedkin even mars that nerve-wracking, over-the-top car chase, which is as technically exciting as The French Connection's chase, by throwing in the silly illogic of all those guys in black cars and with semi-automatics popping up along the route. Distracting? Yes. Intentional? I'm afraid so.

Among the elements that made The French Connection so powerful and entertaining were two great actors, Gene Hackman and Fernando Rey. To Live and Die in L. A. has some fine actors, but none come close to the defining work of Hackman and Rey. Dafoe stands out of the crowd, but, in my opinion, that's it. As William Chance, the obsessed Secret Service agent, we have William Peterson, a baby-faced actor playing a baby-faced hotshot tough guy. He's saddled with such corny tough guy dialogue as, "Let me tell you something, amigo. I'm going to bag Masters and I don't give a ---- how I do it!" or (with a snarl) "You mean you won't carry your weight if something goes down?" While Masters becomes more ruthless as the story unfolds and, in a perverse way, becomes more dominant because of his sense of humor and weird charm, Chance simply becomes more self-involved, more predictable and more unlikable. However, there is a surprise 104 minutes into the movie that solves part of the problem.

To Live and Die in L. A. has so many excellent elements that I ended up wishing Friedkin had employed more self-discipline in his choice of the elements he used to embroider the story. It would be sad indeed to see a director like William Friedkin tagged as the man who had two big hits, and then everything after for 35 years was either flawed, a failure or dull. To Live and Die in L. A. runs nearly two hours. If Friedkin had been forced to edit it down by, say 15 minutes, I think he might have had something approaching The French Connection's powerful tension. As it is, we have a movie that is exciting, irritating, nasty around the edges and a pleasure to watch.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does this Version.......?, 22 Oct 2006
By 
S. Campbell - See all my reviews
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Come complete with the 2 different endings?

The USA release has.

Great Movie, Very cool soundtrack, 80's music ok...what do you expect from an 80's movie..... Miami Vice-ish music.....

This will keep you gripped till the end, whether it has the 2 endings or only 1.

Special effects/stunts done by real people.

At this price you can't go wrong.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT the special edition!, 4 Oct 2004
By A Customer
I've waited a long time for this film to be released on DVD. Waited. And waited. AND waited. I've watched it so many times on crappy vhs that the film has already run its course for me by this belated release. Fans of the film will be treated to a very pleasing re-master and sound.
What they won't be pleased about is that this is not the special edition released in R1. Why does MGM keep doing this, it's infuriating. Alright, so I've got the R1 SE, but that's hardly the point. R2 is the better format. It was all on one disk so why are you doing this bare bones release, MGM?
IT DRIVES YOU MAD! There is some mad driving in this film. Buy it. 5 star film. 3 star DVD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That doesn't mean I'm gonna roll over and play informer. If you're looking for a pigeon, go to the park., 14 Nov 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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To Live and Die in L.A. is directed by William Friedkin who co-adapts the screenplay with Gerald Petievich from Petievich's own novel. It stars William Petersen, Wiiliam Dafoe, John Pankow, Debra Feuer, John Turturo, Darlanne Fluegel and Dean Stockwell. Music is by Wang Chung and cinematography by Robby Muller.

Secret Service agent Richard Chance (Petersen) swears to bring down those responsible for the death of his partner...

Critics of the time were very divided on the quality of Friedkin's movie, with some being way off the mark by trying to put it in the same ball park as TV show Miami Vice! On reflection you like to think that many of those critics view it now and see just how damn down and gritty it actually is. A common misconception is that the film wasn't supported by the paying public, with some quarters suggesting it flopped, not so since it cleared $10 million in profit in North America alone.

The story is set over 41 days in December and January, but forget any notion that this has any hint of the Christmas holidays, for there is no joy here. This trawls the unglamourous side of Los Angeles, crime and corruption dwells here in a world of strip joints and working class graft locales. There are no heroes either, all characters are either flawed or trapped by their situation, alienation figures prominently, as does fatal obsession, and Robby Muller's photography dovetails with the character's mental health by way of colour and composition. In short, this is classic neo-noir.

As an action film it also scores high, with the brutal violence handled with kinetic assurance by Friedkin, while the "famous" car chase that precedes the finale is worthy of all the praise thrown its way over the years. Taking six weeks to shoot, and with Friedkin challenging himself to trump the car chase in The French Connection, it's a dizzying array of accelerated thrusts, spins and nail biting breathlessness, one of the finest car chases in cinematic history for sure. That finale that follows also proves to be a throat grabber, no cop-outs here as Friedkin sneakily put in the ending that the studio didn't want. The script stings with snide asides and moody exchanges and a splendid cast are led by Petersen and Dafoe turning in classical noir protagonist/antagonist portrayals.

It's very 80s, Wang Chung's electro synth musical score ensures that is the case, as do the garish reds and greens that adorn the opening credits, but this is a good thing, for it's not a film of god awful mullets and spangle dressage. A moody and miserable film it is, and thankfully so. 8/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friedkin delivers again, 8 Oct 2012
By 
Philip Drake "solous" (West Midlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Live & Die in La [Blu-ray] [1985] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
In short this was and still is a great film. With awesome performances from William Petersen and Willem Dafoe, this offers an incredible story of crime and vice.

Willem Dafoe is the money counterfeiter who murders Willam Petersen's partner. What ensues is a relentless and ruthless chase as Petersen hunts Dafoe, breaking down his money laundering enterprises and doing anything he can, above and beyond the law if need be. Nothing short of causing crime will stand between him and his vengeance.

Just as seen in French Connection there's a great car chase seen in 'To Live and Die in L.A'. The pace, tension, and action is perfectly directed as Petersen and his new partner hurtle through the roads and streets, mercilessly chased. Of course this film is seeped in 80's neon flash, perhaps where the recent film 'Drive' got a lot of it's inspiration.

Outstanding performances make this a great film, Petersen differs suitably to the sombre and sullen Will Grahem he portrayed in 'Manhunter'. As always Dafoe gives a creepy, dangerous portrait as the counterfeiter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relentless..., 21 Sep 2010
I've never seen a film this relentless in pace, by the end you feel like you've just gone on the most dangerous ride ever and your head is spinning. William Friedkin's most talked about films are often his celebrated box office hits French Connection and The Exorcist, but for me personally To Live and Die in LA and the late seventies Sorcerer are his two best. Not caring to cater for the suggested typical narrative arc and characterisations, Friedkin's lead in this film - William Petersen as Richard Chance - will stop at nothing to bring down counterfeiter William Defoe (in a very early role) Rick Masters by either legal or illegal means and lets the audience debate is Petersen as bad if not worse than his foe. John Pankow plays plays his partner John Vukovich and slowing but surely by the final act he becomes a mirror image of Petersen... as the Peter Boyle in taxi driver said 'man does a job, he becomes that job' and boy is it true of Petersen's and Pankow's characters. Superbly directed - the car chase as you'd suspect from Friedkin rivals his filming from The French Connection. My brother saw the film the other day and said it reminded him in tone of a 1980's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia and I wouldn't disagree. For Peckinpah and Friedkin both become studio outcasts and because of it they both made films that defy normal structure as if you like an 'up yours' to those executives who took pleasure in causing them artistic pain. This is the most relentless film ever made - buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I am too old for this s***", 28 May 2013
Yes they do say that line in the first 10 minutes of the film, but don't be fooled there is some excellent work in this film. Wang Chung provide the most 80's of soundtracks, there is one of the best car chases of all time and the plot twists in some unexpected ways especially towards the end.

I always thought William Petersen should have become a bigger star, he is madder than Mel Gibson and a better actor in many ways, this and Manhunter are find examples of his work. Also Willem DeFoe is fantastic in this film, truly menacing and again reminds us of what a great actor he is.

For some reason I have seen this listed under Michael Mann it is not, William Friedkin is the director and after French Connection and The Exorcist it is his best work.

Any fan of 80's cinema, Miami Vice or similar will enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film., 29 April 2013
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Great film made all the better for not being drug related as it could easily have been. Good performances all round. Dated only because of the 80's soundtrack. One of the best car chases ever - I first saw this film about 20 years ago and the chase sequence stood out to me then and still does. You'll watch this more than once.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant crime film!, 31 Dec 2012
By 
d1 (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Live & Die in La [Blu-ray] [1985] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
Always loved this film, I jumped at the chance when it was released on blu-ray. I checked a couple of forums to confirm it is region free. The picture and sound are immense. Best car chase in a film.
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To Live & Die in La [Blu-ray] [1985] [US Import]
To Live & Die in La [Blu-ray] [1985] [US Import] by William Friedkin (Blu-ray - 2011)
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