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Oliver Stone’s controversial, satirical look at media madness has come to DVD in this special unrated Director’s Cut. The story (written, and subsequently disowned by, Quentin Tarantino) concerns a couple of murderous newlyweds, Mickey and Mallory Knox, and the media frenzy that surrounds them as they slaughter their way across America.

I take thee to be my lawful wedded psycho.
When Mickey meets Mallory it is love at first sight, but Mallory’s abusive father (played by Rodney Dangerfield) has other ideas. He has Mickey arrested and subsequently incarcerated for stealing his car. No mere prison can extinguish Mickey and Mallory’s love however and Mickey soon escapes and returns for her. Together they murder her parents and head off on a homicidal road trip across America. During their travels the media attention they receive transforms them into cult figures, worshiped by legions of people brainwashed by exposure to mindless television shows, the very shows that Mickey and Mallory grew up with. This version of NBK features restored footage, including some of the more controversial shots (such as Tommy Lee Jones’ head on a stick). Both Woody Harrelson and Juliet Lewis are outstanding as the couple Knox, and there is a fine supporting cast featuring Tommy Lee Jones as the testosterone laden prison warden, Tom Sizemore as the super cop charged with bringing the pair to justice and Robert Downey Jr. as a scumbag TV journalist who sees the murderous couple as the gateway to higher ratings.

R4 NBK is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1. This is a significant improvement over the non-anamorphic R1 edition, which while being one of the better non-anamorphic prints I’ve seen, still suffered from a lack of definition. This new transfer is excellent, there are no visible compression problems and the video quality is very good throughout. Because NBK uses so many different types of film it is difficult to criticise the quality (some of the footage is intentionally grainy for example), but I think it would be fair to say that this is a great transfer. The film is spread across a generous 30 chapters on a dual layered disc.

Go on! Kick 'im!!!
The audio in NBK is excellent throughout. This film has a fantastic soundtrack, and this is particularly noticeable during the prison riot sequence. The soundtrack to this film is in many ways every bit as important as the video, it adds to the sensory assault that is NBK, and featured are a number of very hard thrash metal tracks as well as some cool tracks from Leonard Cohen amongst others. I first heard the R1 edition of NBK in Pro-Logic – what a difference 5.1 sound makes! The film is very impressive sonically, with the aforementioned riot scenes being a good demonstration of the mix.

The disc is full of extra content, and for once it’s all very interesting stuff. In addition to the extra footage that has been restored to the film, there is a selection of deleted scenes included on the disc. These include an introduction by Oliver, although you can’t turn the intros off as you can on the R1 disc. A minor quibble, but it would have been nice to have the option. The scenes include such gems as Wayne Gale’s interview with the Hun Brothers (victims of a particularly brutal chainsaw attack) and Ashley Judd’s courtroom appearance (an interesting scene, but you can see why it was cut). Other extras include an alternative ending, made-for-DVD trailer, cast and crew interviews, a making of documentary and an insightful director’s commentary from Stone.

Easy tiger!!!
For fans of the film, this disc is an essential purchase. Before this DVD I hadn’t seen Natural Born Killers in a while, and had forgotten just how powerful a film it is. The Director’s Cut is a non-stop roller coaster ride, with just enough humour to offset the violence (and it IS violent). The film may have strayed from Tarantino’s original vision, but evidence of his involvement is still in effect (Scagnetti, for example, is the surname the cop and also of Mr. Blonde’s parole officer in Reservoir Dogs). This is a top-notch release, with plenty of extra content, and I urge you to go out and buy a copy now.