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Unfairly ignored by many, Donnie Brasco is one of the best mob films around, as well as one of my favourite movies. It was with great pleasure then, that I received this special edition DVD.

Donnie Brasco: Special Edition
Donnie Brasco is based on the true story of FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, who infiltrated the mafia and worked undercover for years, gaining their trust and respect. The film chronicles Pistone’s relationship with Lefty, an aging mobster who suffers from a severe lack of respect from his peers, his failing marriage to his wife Maggie, and his own inner struggle.

After some initial mistrust, Lefty sees Donnie as someone who looks up to him, someone who gives him the respect he cannot get from his fellow gangsters. He begins to cultivate his relationship with Donnie, grooming him for his eventual induction into the mafia. Unfortunately for Lefty, Mob ‘skipper’ Sonny Black (Michael Madsen) takes and interest in Donnie and, slowly but surely, Lefty begins to lose his hold over the youngster.

During the course of the film we see Pistone, as Donny Brasco, undergo a transformation from articulate FBI agent to thuggish mafia enforcer. The real question is whether Pistone can keep his new identity in check, or if this new persona will cause him to lose everyone and everything he holds dear?

Johnny Depp and Al Pacino deliver incredible performances. Depp is awesome in his role, and this is by far his finest moment in my opinion. There is also a strong supporting cast featuring the likes of Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby and Anne Heche. Madsen plays his usual tough guy/homicidal maniac role, and you get the feeling that he is able to inspire genuine fear in all around him.

To say any more would ruin it for the uninitiated, but suffice to say that this is one of the finest films I have had the pleasure to see.

Donnie Brasco: Special Edition
The first thing that strikes you is the excellent anamorphic picture, which is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The print is clean, sharp and well balanced. The image is definitely a huge improvement over the non-anamorphic R2 disc I used to own. After viewing the film several times it’s hard to find anything to fault in the quality of the video, it really is that good. This version of Donnie Brasco is a visual delight.

Sound is also given an overhaul, and we are now treated to English tracks in Dolby Digital 5.0 and Dolby surround, as well as French and Spanish surround tracks. Dialogue is very clear, and the lack of an LFE channel doesn’t have a detrimental effect on a film of this nature. In addition to these there is also an isolated musical track, which is a great way to appreciate the hauntingly brilliant score. The music really is superb, and sets the tone of the whole movie. Overall this is an aurally impressive disc.

The supplemental material really is a great improvement over the previous releases. In addition to the aforementioned isolated score, we are treated to an interesting and insightful director’s commentary from Mike Newell (of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame), two featurettes, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), theatrical trailers, web links, talent files and a photo library. This last extra shows a series of on set stills with accompanying music and dialogue from the film, which makes a nice change from the usual static galleries. The featurettes are also very interesting; the first is the original featurette from the previous releases, the second is all-new and features interviews with the real-life Donnie Brasco (Joe Pistone) among others.

Donnie Brasco: Special Edition
This Special Edition of Donnie Brasco is everything that previous versions should have been, and more. This is one of those films that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves; most people remember Goodfellas, but Donnie Brasco seems to have been somewhat forgotten along the way. In spite of this lack of recognition the film is still one of the best ‘gangster’ movies out there. The superb performances, interesting array of extras and exceptional audio and video quality help to make this a very special release. Finally, there is a disc that does the brilliance of the film justice. Forgeddaboudit!