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A MAN APART

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Timothy Olyphant, Geno Silva, Jacqueline Obradors, Steve Eastin
Director: F. Gary Gray
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: September 2, 2003

ďYouíre beating against a billion dollar business. You alone are trying to bring down a monster. As a cop, thatís impossible. You must become a monster.Ē

Film ***

Vin Diesel is an actor of unique range. Mass audiences are now fully aware of his ability to possibly become the biggest action movie sensation since Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yet, in the wake of his back to back blockbusters, The Fast and the Furious and XXX, thereís a slight chance some have forgotten that Diesel can actually do some serious acting, as demonstrated in his earlier films such as Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room. In A Man Apart, you get the best of both worlds. There are plenty of high octane action scenes, and at the same time thereís a heartfelt storyline that gives Diesel the opportunity to display his intense, dramatic range.

Diesel plays Sean Vetter, a dedicated member of an elite unit in the DEA. After seven grueling years of hunting down the countryís most wanted drug kingpin, Meno Lucero (Geno Silva), Vetter and his team finally track him down in Tijuana, an action that will bring both triumph and tragedy to Vetterís life. They execute a raid on a nightclub and capture the wanted drug distributor and murderer, and it appears as if a major step has been taken in the so-called war on drugs, but it hasnít.

Not too long after the successful bust, and following a celebration party held at his house, Vetterís life soon takes a turn for the horrific, when numerous thugs break into his home and attack him with gunfire. He survives the attack, taking out the gunmen in the process, but Seanís wife, Stacy (Jacqueline Obradors) isnít so lucky, and is struck by a fatal wound. Even though he sees her die right before his eyes, Sean canít grasp the effect of his loss. It isnít until Sean is laid up in a hospital bed, recovering from a gunshot wound to the arm, that he knows his love is gone for real, as his partner, Demetrius (Larenz Tate) delivers the news.

When fully recovered, Vetter vows to use any means necessary to strike back at the organization that ordered the hit on him and his wife. When confronting Meno, whom Vetter suspects, in prison, the former kingpin insists he did not order the hit. At the same time, an unknown man known as ďDiabloĒ is said to be taking over the business. Vetter and his team are then provided a possible lead in the form of a hothead known as Hollywood Jack (Timothy Olyphant), who moonlights as the owner of a salon in Beverly Hills.

Things donít get much better for Sean when he obligates himself to some deep undercover work. Following a drug deal that Vetter has set up, he is asked to turn in his badge, after an incident where he beat a man to death, after referring to the copís dead wife. This leaves Vetter with no other option than to take down Diablo on his own, even if it means resorting to his former gang-banging ways. Both he and Demetrius were street thugs before opting to join the DEA. When Vetter pleads with Demetrius to help him in his personal vendetta, he backs off on account of the safety of his own family.

Iíd by lying if I said A Man Apart didnít follow an overused movie formula, which in this case is the revenge thriller, but thanks in large part to Dieselís marvelous presence, in what I consider to be his best screen performance yet, the movie soars every step of the way. It is also an extremely well made piece from a technical aspect. Director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, The Negotiator) and cinematographer Jack N. Green, whoís worked on several Clint Eastwood films such as Unforgiven, give this picture a sharp and edgy atmospheric look to it.

A Man Apart is a much gripping action drama that properly gives Vin Diesel to display his action talents, as well as his acting.

Video ***1/2

New Line is one studio that never manages to let one down with the presentation quality of their discs, and A Man Apart is no exception. The anamorphic picture is superb in its enhancement of the various location sets, which consists of both California and Mexico. The work of cinematographer Jack N. Green is wonderfully displayed, especially in the purposefully grainy look he applies to the shots of Mexico. I did spot something of a shimmer in a nighttime sequence, but that is my only minor complaint. Overall, a pleasant presentation. A full screen version is also included.

Audio ****

Right from its in your face opening credit sequence, the 5.1 mix on this disc pulls all the necessary punches to guarantee a forceful sound presence. Every rockiní sound aspect is totally in check, as elements ranging from dialogue to striking music cues, to explosive action scenes. A shootout sequence about midway in the picture is definitely the high point of the presentation. The sound presentation also makes good use of the set pieces, including that of tunnels and crowded areas, etc. A sharp, banginí listen all the way.

Features **

Basically, the only flaw of the discs, as all that is offered are seven deleted scenes, a trailer for this and several additional New Line releases.

Summary:

A Man Apart is very well made, and manages to provide space equally for both action and emotion, resulting in Vin Dieselís most dynamic screen performance to date.