• Youngblood (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: July 30th, 2019.
    Director: Noel Nosseck
    Cast: David Pendleton, Bryan O'Dell, Ann Wledon, Ron Trice, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Ronin Flix

    Youngblood – Movie Review:

    Junior (Bryan O'Dell), who goes by the nickname Youngblood, is a fifteen-year-old kid who lives in a tough as nails tenement building in the heart of Los Angeles. His older brother, Reggie (David Pendleton), has a good job as a banker and hopes to make something for Youngblood and their mother, (Ann Weldon) but Youngblood really wants to no part of it. He’s not interested in getting an education and once he gets kicked out of school, he winds up joining a gang called The Kingsmen, led by Rommel (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs).

    Soon, Youngblood and his pal Bummie (Ron Trice) wind up crossing The Dons, they being The Kingsmen’s chief rivals. What’d they do? Youngblood had the audacity to dance with a girl named Sybil (Renn Woods) who just so happens to be the sister of a tough calling himself Geronimo (Ralph Farquhar), the leader of The Dons. To get back in the good graces of The Kingsmen, Youngblood needs to infiltrate The Dons with some help from Durango (Herb Rice) and swipe one of their jackets. When Rommel decides to officially go to war with The Dons, he gets wounded in a fight and Youngblood winds up killing a man.

    This causes Rommel to promise his wife, Joan (Sheila Wills), that he’ll get his act together once he cleans up the neighborhood, but with drug problems aplenty all over the area and violence around every corner, he and Youngblood soon uncover a conspiracy to keep the drugs flowing…

    A really well-done mix of urban drama, blaxoploitation tropes, street gang action and social commentary, Youngblood is set to an absolutely killer soundtrack from none other than War that really helps to set the right mood and tone for the picture. Director Noel Nosseck paces the pictures quite effectively, building tension really well in the second half of the film after doing a fine job of establishing characters in the first. The gritty Los Angeles locations used for the bulk of the film lend the picture a welcome air of authenticity and the cinematography from Robbie Greenberg is very strong.

    Performances are pretty great across the board. Young Bryan O’Dell is quite good here. He’d later appear in Jamaa Fanaka’s Street Wars and prior to this had done mostly TV work (he’s in a few episodes of Good Times) but he suits the part very well. Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs steals most of the scenes he’s in, he’s very good as Rommel and he and O’Dell have an interesting chemistry together. Supporting work from Woods, Rice and Wills is also noteworthy, while David Pendleton does fine work as Younblood’s supposedly upstanding citizen of a brother.

    Youngblood – Blu-ray Review:

    Scorpion Releasing brings Youngblood to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it looks good if never quite mind-blowing. Certainly better than you’d get on DVD, detail is solid, sometimes quite strong but never less than solid, while color reproduction looks just fine. Black levels are decent and the image is free of any noise reduction, edge enchantment or noticeable compression problems.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono soundtrack is excellent. The soundtrack in particular really benefits from the lossless treatment here, it sounds great, while dialogue is clean, clear and always easy to understand. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note and the levels are properly balanced throughout. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary with Noel Nosseck and moderator Jeff McKay that proves quite interesting as they discuss Nosseck’s career up to this point including some work he did for Crown International. They also cover writer Paul Carter Harrison’s pedigree, discuss how the different cast and crew members came to be involved in the shoot, the locations that were used in the film, the importance of the soundtrack to the film’s success and the film’s distribution history.

    Also included on the disc is an interview with Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs that runs just under fourteen-minutes in length. He speaks here about landing the part in the film, other blaxploitation projects that he was involved with, War’s soundtrack work and how they were brought onboard the production, his thoughts on the character he played in the picture and more.

    Aside from that, we get a TV spot for the feature, bonus trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing properties (Bucktown, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, Body And Soul, Hotel Colonial), menus and chapter selection.

    Youngblood – The Final Word:

    Youngblood is great stuff – it’s gritty, tense and slick, highly entertaining stuff and pretty gripping too. The soundtrack from War is reason enough to want to own this but the performances and direction are equally strong. Scorpion’s Blu-ray release is a good one and the extras lend a lot of insight into the film’s history. Recommended!

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