Project Blu Film Review for Gary Ugarek’s Crime Thriller [All In The Game]
Below is a review for Gary Ugarek’s Independent feature length crime thriller [All In The Game]starring Nelson Irizarry, Chris Clanton, Micaiah Jones, and Kelvin Page. Along with Mike McMullin, Daniel Ross, Joseph Durbin, myself, and Vonn Harris as well. A great review and its just a blessing to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a taleneted cast and crew! As always #StayTuned and enjoy!
All in the Game
By: Will Santana, Posted: April 09, 2012
The Movie itself:
Independent director Gary Ugarek has pleased zombie fans not once, but twice since his directorial debut. Now Gary attempts to please fans in his second favored genre, urban gangster films. Not ever viewing Gary’s previous two films due to my lack of interest in zombies, I actually was ecstatic win he made an official announcement with his third movie All in the Game. I’m a sucker for the urban genre. Whether it’s a high budget production, an independent one or even a rapper attempting to make a motion picture. Now, I’m sure Gary doesn’t have any attentions of being compared to a rapper wanting to have an impact in Hollywood (cough! Master P), and intends to hit viewers hard and correct. Now that’s gangsta.
The streets of B-More (Baltimore) trafficking groups are under the radar battling for territory. Ontario Banks (Nelson Irizarry) leads his gang but wants more than the average thug life. He preaches to his crew to have more expectations than just money, clothes and hoes. His crew is supported by the tactical, Vince (Chris Clanton), the enforcer, Lucky (Micaiah Jones) and trigger happy, Littles (Kelvin Page). Ontario wants nothing but his crew to be low profile, but on the other hand wants to move in on B-More rival, Michael Caprisi’s territory. With his crew and some help from the streets, Ontario must be smart, tactical, and daring in order to make his new move. Now that the plan is in effect, the streets of B-More are now at war and no one is safe.
For Gary’s debut into the gangster genre, I was really impressed how well the storyline was developed, and for a small independent film, the acting was superb. The movie had a bit of a slow start and was similar to many films I’ve seen in the past, but if you just hang in there, the suspense tends to build up with the violence and strategic moves. I did like that it didn’t take long for the characters to develop, and it was pretty easy to identify which kind of role each actor would have. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad at all that they developed so fast as the movie’s actual plot was somewhat unpredictable. Outside the main actors, the acting was quite poor, too stereotypical or a few scenes seemed to be exaggerated.
I was really impressed how speeches of growth were entertaining, even though these scenes slowed the pace of the movie, it didn’t impact the flow at all. I also like the split screen shots instead of the usual cross cutting that Alfred Hitchcock perfected. I did think at times the split screen method was unnecessary when the two cameras were in the same exact location and were probably 2 feet away from each other. Nelson, Chris and Micaiah had great chemistry and it worked with them being on the same crew. Kelvin Page’s character was the least convincing to me even though I understood his role. I felt a little should have been added to Kelvin’s character progression.
As the story unfolds in All in the Game, the movie comes pretty hard. The torture scenes may lack the special effects of a major Hollywood blockbuster but still can make you cringe. Gary truly got his money worth from Micaiah Jones as the enforcer, he was 100% convincing in his role as Lucky. Micaiah brings fear, power, humor, and a grimey presence to the screen. Chris Clanton had a smooth swag I wish Gary would have captured more. He played my favorite personality but was very limited to screen time. Chris’ portrayal of Vince is the one you can see making something more of his life than trafficking and living the violent life.
All in the Game wasn’t a letdown one bit. The gangster torture film has a slow start, but if you give it a chance and hang around long enough, you will witness an independent movie that can entertain just as much as any major blockbuster. The special effects are lacking due to the budget but the storyline and acting are so up to par. I have yet to see Ugarek’s zombie films, but I hope to see more from the urban genre. A fun hip-hop soundtrack and a tour of B-More added some more spice to a movie that’s already fun to enjoy. I wish I could loan my copy out to friends but I know they will bootleg this movie in a heartbeat and I can’t take any part of that as I support the independent film movies.
Movie Rating: 7/10
All in the Game is presented in full 1080p via Mpeg-2 encode and framed at 2.35:1. The black and white film from Ugarek’s looks really damn good on Blu-ray. Although the film was shot in color, the post conversion to black and white was done extremely well. For a small budget, damn, the contrast and black levels were top notch in high-def. Man, if you ever wonder how to set your contrast up, this is the movie to tweak it around with. White levels tend to bleed a bit on daylight shots while in the neighborhood. Facial detail is fairly impressive as moles, scars and other blemishes are easy to detect. The movie has a bit of depth to it adding an extended dimension. Grain seems to come and go, on a few night shots grain was a tad heavier and bothered a little. The transition to new scenes went pretty smooth for the most part.
I love, love, love the opening shots of Baltimore. With most movie’s settings taking place in New York, Atlanta or California, it was quite a treat to get a quick tour around a different environment. I also enjoyed the shots in Ontario’s crew base with the window. The camera focuses on dialogue from Kelvin and Chris but they’re in the background of the glass and you can still catch a glimpse of Nelson. My favorite shot was of Micaiah coming out of a hallway hitting a light bulb and all the shadows flashing, which also illustrates the greatness of the black levels.
Even with a killer score and soundtrack, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track was the most disappointing section of the disc. The first minute of the movie audio has a glitch that really doesn’t affect the rest of the movie. Dialogue for the most part is clean and crisp but suffers with echoing at times, wind blowing and random street cars driving by. Inside of buildings the dynamic range really impressed and the musical soundtrack provided a fun lifting moment. I personally will need to contact Gary with a few of the hip-hop tracks that were in the movie. Rear speakers are used quite often and with a few background noises but were also disturbing on occasions. The hip-hop track uplifts the bass usage for sub-woofer fans. I’m sure the budget could have had an impact with the audio track, so it was still good enough for me overall.
Video Rating: 7/10, Audio Rating: 5/10
All in the Game has a lot to offer in the way of extras. You won’t be disappointed with these High-def features.
- Audio Commentary
- Saint Anger’s-You Heard Me: Music Video (HD 4 min)
- Teaser Trailer (HD 1 min)
- Original Day 1 Footage (with Deleted Scene) (HD 1 min)
- More Day 1 Footage (Deleted/Reshoots) (HD 4 min)
- Original Cut-The Three Amigos Torture Scene (HD 4 min)
- Fund Raising Promo (HD 2 min)
- In the Hot Seat (Cast Interviews) (HD 12 min)
- Bloopers- By the Balls (HD 2 min)
Extras Rating: 8/10
For his first film in the gangster genre, director Gary Ugarek has an extra base hit if you ask me. For the price I paid for my disc and the budget of the film, I feel I came out dead even. All in the Game will find a nice spot in my Blu-ray collection with my urban movie cases. Will Gary go back to his true passion of zombies or stay here? I hope he stays here as I will purchase his next film without any hesitation. A solid video transfer and blasting hip-hop soundtrack makes this a bonus from what I was expecting. Chris Clanton and Micaiah Jones were absolutely entertaining to watch and hope the two can team up some more on screen.
Overall Rating: 7/10