Scarface [Limited Edition Steelbook] – Blu-ray Review

The Film:

Say hello to my little friend!

Isn’t that the most quotable line ever? Under-appreciated and left for dead in 1983, Brian De Palma’s Scarface remake starring Al Pacino secured a status in pop culture thanks to the urban culture utilizing the film as a ghetto manifesto, yet Scarface is much more than a rapper’s delight. Despite the violence, the cocaine, and the rules of the game, Scarface is undoubtedly an American story, which twists the notion of Capitalism, into a winning game of rags to riches.

Tony Montana is an American hero. America, when it is at its best, is a place of freedom and a place that harbors the idealism of success. Montana’s story is no different than say an Irish immigrant landing in New York during the late 1800s who faced persecution just as the Cuban-born Tony, but within the Melting Pot society that has greatly defined the backbone of America, one could succeed with a little hard work. So what if Tony Montana took to the dope game as a way to succeed?

The world is yours.

Scarface showcases the loop holes in Capitalism, a notion that seems righteous, especially considering our current economic climate. But what’s even more interesting that screenwriter Oliver Stone’s twisted tale of success is Tony Montana himself,  made iconic by Al Pacino. Tony seems morally bad at first, yet deep down, his love for his sister, his unflinching path to becoming the best, is not only admirable, but unpredictable. Tony is on one hand, a brutal protege of Alex Sosa, a cocaine boss in Colombia, but on the other, a sweet, funny man, as seen in the scene where he wears Elvira’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) hat trying to impress her. We never really get a read on Tony Montana, yet we instantly understand him. It’s America, Land of Opportunity, and it takes an immigrant to show us the reality of it.

He loved the American Dream. With a Vengeance.

Of course, Scarface‘s position in pop culture, thanks to rap music and drinking games (take a shot every f-bomb!), makes it one of those love it or hate it movies. Deep down, Brian De Palma in a non-suspense movie, might have directed his best film; Al Pacino has never been more fun to watch; at a 170-minutes, there isn’t a faster paced movie around, and finally, it’s also a rare remake that’s better than the original. Sorry, Howard Hawks, this is true.

In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.

The Blu-ray:

Audio/Video: Universal Home Entertainment’s HD disc is initially spectacular. Visually, the film has never looked better, and as I recall from TV, VHS, and the couple different DVD versions, Scarface has always looked worn out. But here in 1080p the results are great. Reds pop out, details are sharp, and clarity is high. There’s been a little online debate of Digital Noise Reduction, and if you know what that is, at times, it does look like Uni has scrubbed some grain away from the film. I don’t see this as a negative. If you love Scarface, this is the best it has ever and possibly will ever look.

The DTS track is awesome. The dialogue and music are loud and clear, yet there’s plenty of surround activity and bass in this aggressive 7.1 mix.

This Blu-ray set comes in a Limited Edition Steelbook packaging which is really slick and cool. Plus, there’s 10 postcards as collectibles.

Scarface (1932): The first big bonus is the original film on a separate DVD. This is pretty much the exact same DVD as Universal put out a few years back as part of their Cinema Classics series. To me, this version of Scarface is grounded a little more in reality than De Palma’s, but it doesn’t have the pop obviously like the 1982 film, but also it didn’t compare to Little Caesar, Angels with Dirty Faces, or Public Enemy at the time.

The film is good, and modern gangster fans will pick up on little clues that Martin Scorsese took from in his Oscar-winning The Departed. While it’s on standard def, the DVD is clean and clear, and features an alternative ending and a informative little intro by film historian Robert Osborne.

The Scarface Phenomenon: This all-new documentary rattles off on how and why Scarface has become the pop culture juggernaut that it is today. Over 40-minutes long and in HD, the doc is somewhat good, somewhat confusing. New interviews with De Palma, author Roberto Saviano and Training Day director Antoine Fuqua are great, but then we got people like Eli Roth, who’s directed the Hostel films and Jillian Barbareiri, who makes asinine comments. Either way, Scarface is a phenom.

U-Control: Two different, all-new features here. One is a  pop-up clicker, that counts ever gun shots and f-word used in the film (that’s 8, 509 and 229). I guess it’s funny, and could be used for a possible drinking game.

The other feature here is a P-i-P track that has interviews and side-by-side comparisons to the 1932 and the 1983 Scarface‘s. A decent, interactive watch.

All the other extras, like Deleted Scenes, Scarface: TV Version, and the series of little featurettes have been ported over from the DVD release back in 2003. They’re still pretty good and informative for fans. The disc rounds out with BD-Live and D-Box controls.

The Film: Rating: ★★★★½

The Blu-ray: Rating: ★★★★☆

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Jon Peters

I love film. That is all.

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  1. Quite happy with this Steelbook blu release.

    Having folks like Roth and that Gillian chick talk about the movie didn’t really bother me much. After all, this film has a diverse fandom and the FF button does come in handy.


    Notables like Fuqua, the Cocaine Cowboy author and Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog(who is Cuban) were a more interesting listen.

  2. I was skeptical on the transfer before seeing it, but it’s worth the upgrade from DVD.

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