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THREE KINGS: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
At the end of the Gulf War, Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg) discovers a map hidden on an Iraqi soldier. He and his pal Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) take it to Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) for advice. But when soon-to-retire special forces officer Archie Gates (George Clooney) hears about it, he senses an opportunity. The four decide to stage a raid on a town deep inside Iraq to retrieve what they believe is a fortune in Kuwaiti gold. Gates ditches his main responsibility - looking after TV journalist Adrianna Cruz (Nora Dunn) - and they set out. But when they get to the village, what they find is something very different from what they expected.

"Three Kings is a war-aftermath movie and morally aware treasure hunt in one, about a handful of American soldiers at the end of Desert Storm who discover a map (in a most unlikely place) that can lead them to Saddam Hussein's heisted gold out of Kuwait. The more you see it the more impressive it is, and on this DVD, you can see it three times: once in normal (though extraordinary) mode, once with the producers' commentary and once with director David O. Russell's commentary. Sadly, the DVD doesn't come with a booklet that explains why there are two commentaries, so we are left to conjecture. Is it because they had a falling out? Or is it simply because they all wanted to have their say and it was too much to try and do it with one session? Judging from the positive comments about Russell by the producers, I suspect the latter. All the special features of this DVD are exemplary and they should be highlighted. But back to the disc: the two commentaries do overlap a bit, but not enough to be repetitive or superfluous. The producers talk about making the movie (and hold interest) while Russell (with occasional flourishes of good humour) talks about the whys and wherefores of the production in fascinating detail. He reveals his motives for making the film and his reasons for the way he did it: such as the high risk strategy with unusual film stock to get a special 'look'. He is relaxed and sincere - and there is even a lovely moment when he stops himself being too self critical. But Russell also talks about the deeper issues involved, such as the American perception of the war, and how the apparent moral victory overshadows some pertinent facts. As he points out, he gave himself a challenging task in making a film in which cold humour and the horrors of the war had to follow each other. But this is exactly why the film is so effective: he managed to put scenes together in a powerful way, and filmmaking is very much about which scene follows which scene - it's juxtaposition and context. As well as the commentaries, there is an excellent doco on the making of the film and some deleted scenes….in fact, you'll need the best part of a day to get through the disc. And it's worth the time."
Andrew L. Urban

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THREE KINGS (R)
(US)

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CAST: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube

DIRECTOR: David O.Russell

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
RRP: $34.95

DVD RELEASE: June 27, 2000

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