American Gangster Frank Lucas (Washington) has become Harlem's number one drug kingpin. Detective Ritchie Roberts (Crowe), one of the few honest cops working within a corrupt system, sets out to topple Lucas' multimillion-dollar drug empire. When confrontation between the two men becomes inevitable, the fate of each becomes inexorably tied to the other, with only one of them emerging the victor. Based on the article "Return Of Superfly" by Mark Jacobson. (Stacey Pendry)
Special features include eight deleted/alternate scenes, a three-minute featurette Uncovering The Past: The Real Frank Lucas And Richie Roberts, and a feature commentary track by Director Ridley Scott and Writer Steve Zaillian.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 DVD shows somewhat solid black levels and good shadow delineation, helping deliver a fairly dimensional-looking image. There are times, however, when black levels are milky, which can be distracting. The picture has a muted appearance, limiting the image's pop. Resolution is quite good, with fine details delivered very nicely. Colors are desaturated, helping give the image a grimy appearance, which matches the story telling nicely. Source element artifacts are cleaned up very well, and film grain is fine enough to not be distracting. Minor edge enhancement can be noticed from time to time, but it isn't a distraction. The VC-1-encoded HD DVD exhibits somewhat elevated black levels, which can cause the image to look fairly washed-out and flat. Resolution is generally impressive, though, with fine textures rendered nicely. Colors are still desaturated, giving the picture a grimy appearance, and brightness is still held in check. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack features a broad front stage, with good imaging which helps to create a believable experience. Music is drawn into the room, away from the front plane, by the incorporation of the surround channels. Dialogue fidelity is fairly good, but there is a shuffling distortion that can be heard shrouding the dialogue. Discrete effects in the surround channels can be delivered well, but often the surrounds are mixed at much lower levels than the front stage, leaving the soundtrack sounding fairly dimensionless for much of the presentation. Deep bass can be delivered nicely using each of the available channels, but it is not a major aspect of the sound design. The HD DVD's Dolby Digital Plus encoding sounds good, with decent fidelity, although a similar shuffling distortion can be heard. The mix is still enjoyable, though. (Danny Richelieu)