• Defiance

    Released By: Kino Lorber
    Released On: August 25, 2015
    Director: John Flynn
    Cast: Jan-Michael Vincent, Theresa Saldana, Art Carney, Danny Aiello, Rudy Ramos
    Year: 1980
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Oh yeah. DEFIANCE. Back in the 80's, when Jan-Michael Vincent was the king, and I was all over First Choice/Superchannel for their R-Rated content, I saw this film 1000 times on the weekends I visited my dad, and let's just say that it was one of my favourites. Looking back at it now, even, I have no idea how this film bombed. A stellar cast, an amazingly effective director...DEFIANCE had all of the makings of a classic film.

    Tommy (Jan-Michael Vincent) is bounced from his career as able-bodied seaman when he gets in an altercation with a higher-up, and finds himself stuck in the shitty city of 1980 New York, with no money and six months before he's reinstated. Hoping to land a job on a Panamanian ship, Tommy plays Spanish language lessons on vinyl, and spends the rest of his time painting lovely canvases of boats in his cheap-ass apartment down on the rough and nasty Lower East Side, a crime-filled neighbourhood that had seen better times. Thanks to the fire-escape culture of 1980's New York, he meets his upstairs neighbour Marsha, and Paolo, the streetwise kid who lives next door.

    Unfortunately for Tommy, he happens to have landed in the area at the same time that the Savage Souls, a multi-racial gang steeped in multiple fashion traits, are exerting their fearsome authority. Led by Angel (Rudy Ramos), the Souls will stop at nothing to keep the neighbourhood under their control, obliterating anyone who tries to report them to the police. Running contrary to the Souls are The Sportsmen, a 60's gang steeped in leather-jacket culture and led by Carmine (Danny Aiello), desperate to regain their hold on the neighborhood and make the streets safe to walk again. When he steps up to The Souls and gets a savage beat-down, Tommy aligns himself with The Sportsmen, fighting his natural inclination to be a seaman, and realizes that the love of Marsha and the protection of his neighborhood are his new priorities. Will he ship out? Or will he stand up for the neighbourhood that's become his new home? With a title like DEFIANCE, there can be only one answer.

    Exuding all of the confidence of any New York film made at the same time, Defiance is quintessential, displaying all of the characteristics that would later make Charles Bronson a superstar of the Cannon....errr...canon. Jan-Michael Vincent, already an alcoholic according to John Flynn, delivers a stunning performance, devoid of any of the flaws that would later make him one of stardom's saddest stories. Danny Aiello...who knew that he could be this good? The setting of 80's NYC, with its open fire hydrants, available fire escapes, burnt-out cars and buildings provides an able backdrop for all of the characters of DEFIANCE, including that guy known as Paulie from the Sopranos, and a mentally-damaged Luca Brazzi. The name of Jerry Bruckheimer is usually enough to ruin a film, but not in this case. Defiance is straight out 80's New York filmmaking, gangs and good guy complete, and it comes totally correct.


    DEFIANCE comes to Kino Lorber Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 transfer, and from the opening AIP logo, it's amazing. Retaining crystal clarity, excepting the bevy of out of focus shots, the film presents a gritty NYC with no apologies, from fishes to switchblades. Black levels and clarity are done up nicely but never sacrifice the ugliness of the situation, retaining a grittiness that is commonly reserved for the back of your neck when it's summer in the city.

    The DTS HDMA 2.0 track is...well, it's adequate. The dialogue is is clear. The soundtrack, however, is all over the place. Expect a heavy handed need to ride the remote control. Although it sounds like it's been cleaned up a fair bit, there is quite a bit of noise and other distractions on here, but not enough to ruin the enjoyment of the film.

    A rad trailer for DEFIANCE and another one for VIGILANTE FORCE is also included.

    The Final Word:

    Awesome and Essential, DEFIANCE needs to be in your collection.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Man, the screencaps are awesome. I already want to watch it again.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I've got this in a preorder bundle with BUSTING. Looking forward to seeing both again. DEFIANCE is a particularly good little film.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I've got this in a preorder bundle with BUSTING. Both are superb little films; I'm looking forward to seeing them both again. This has whetted my appetite even more
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
      I've got this in a preorder bundle with BUSTING. Both are superb little films; I'm looking forward to seeing them both again. This has whetted my appetite even more
      It's really a cool film. Kino are awesome for releasing it on blu.