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In this gritty police drama from director Dennis Hopper, street-wise cop Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) and hotheaded rookie Danny McGavin (Sean Penn) grapple with their new partnership on the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles. Although Danny finally lets Hodges show him the ropes, his adrenaline-fed brutality earns him a reputation with the very gangs they want to help as a war on the streets is ready to explode.

This Orion Pictures L.A. gang cop drama holds pretty strong in my memory. Not so much for the film as a whole but for the trailer that, if I remember rightly was on my Robocop ex-rental VHS. For some reason this trailer stuck with me over the years (probably to do with the amount of times I watched Robocop in my youth) and I've always remembered the film, despite never seeking it out. So watching Colors for the first time proved to be a very odd nostalgic viewing as the key lines of dialogue from the trailer stuck out to me almost like a film I know very well from the era.

In terms of a convincing gritty look at real world problems, age hasn't treated Colors too well. Not so much for the performances, they are all pretty solid (besides Damon Wayan, who is cartoonish in his lousiness) but more so it's treatment of the L.A. gang scenes. It's a little too cliché in its depiction and the subtitles of the culture has been much better portrayed since through various movies with the same themes. There's a sort of innocence to the whole affair here, taking two cops, one old and one young and sort of putting them in a very basic and slightly underplayed gang land that never quite feels as harsh or as real as it should.

Directed by Dennis Hopper, it's a tight enough told story but it's really only Don Cheadle that delivers a convincingly deadly portrayal of the darker edge to this gang culture and outside of him it all feels a little loose and almost disrespectful to how hard edged we've grown to know of this life in L.A. to be. Duvall if infinity likeable as the elder cop trying to make a change on a larger scale than he's able and Penn playing the plucky over eager rookie is a lot of fun to see as he pushes his own buttons to get the job done. Colors certainly has it's focus in the right place but it's bold swing has lost its impact really and this depiction of the L.A. gang scene feels more like a TV depiction than that of a film offering any sort of valid commentary of the situation of the time, even if the film is still a solid piece of entertainment.



From the jump the image here is pretty great. Natural but strong colours fill the screen and the pinky but not overcooked skin tones give a freshness to the image, despite the grain. I think I had such a strong memory of the film's grubby trailer, I don't think I expected a presentation as good as this is from the film.

The opening credits get noticeably more grain heavy as we see a lot of wider city shots but it just makes the film look even better when it starts rolling again. Night scenes offer a good level of shadowing and darker areas still retain a lot of detail and glimpses of strong colour. This adds  a lot to the rather cartoon like depiction of the gang members wearing their different coloured chequered shirts, usually blue or red mostly, showing what side they're on but the lighting also boosts all of this making many of the daytime scenes reach out beyond the concrete beige and grey's that fill the city streets.



The dialogue is all crisp, though it does suffer a few moments of sounding a little too low at times. The soundtrack however has a nice thump to it and some of song selections really bring the track to life.

The odd sound effect reaches out of the stereo track, including the spray can title reveal in the opening credits and all in all this is an all round solid stereo track that sounds cleaned up without losing the original recording's charms.



'Cops and Robbers' (16:53 HD) has Dennis Fanning who was the Technical Adviser on the film  talking us through his experience before the film on the streets the film depicts.

'Cry of Alarm' (28:46 HD) has the screenwriter Michael Schiffer discussing his path to Colors and his experiences getting the gig to write this L.A. gang story that was such a fresh approach at the time.

Last up are a batch of 'Deleted Scenes'.



Despite this being a relatively early look at gang warfare in L.A. before it was more mainstream and better depicted Colors is a solid flick that's interesting to watch, if only for its two strong leads actors and their journey through the film. The disc itself is great to look at, with a well put together stereo track and a couple of interesting extras to fill out the reasons behind making the film and the rise of the gang related crime the film is based on.