Everyone wants a piece of the action – and the treasure – as Bill Paxton (Twister) and William Sadler (Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight) take on a ruthless gang in this high-caliber thriller. In the rubble of a four-alarm blaze, Vince (Paxton) and Don (Sadler), two Arkansas firemen, discover a map leading to a fortune in stolen gold hidden in an abandoned East St. Louis tenement. What they don't know is the building is headquarters to a vicious mob, led by the notorious King James (Ice T, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Savon (Ice Cube, Friday, Ride Along). When the firefighters accidentally witness the mob executing some of their enemies, the trespassers become the gang's next target in this pulse-pounding thrillfest.
“Bullets just go around me. That’s why they call me Lucky.”
The beauty of living in today’s media landscape is seeing those lost movies from our youth, often caught between channel flips, showing up on Blu-ray. Boutique labels like Olive Films, Shout! Select, and Kino Lorber are breathing life back into movies you may have missed on the first go round. The criminally underseen Trespass is no exception. About halfway through Walter Hill’s ‘92 action thriller I found myself at an “Ah-Ha!” moment instantly remembering that I had seen this film on cable some years ago in my parent’s basement. So does it hold up after all these years?
For the uninitiated Trespass is a 1992 action thriller co-written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the team that brought us Back to the Future, and directed by from the hip by Walter Hill. Delayed by the ‘92 L.A. riots, Trespass received a new ending, a new title, and heavy rewrites before its disastrous Christmas Day release. What gives Trespass it’s appeal is the cast including two giants of hip hop and a director already versed in gangland violence with The Warriors. Starring a dream team of late 80s / early 90s actors with Bill Paxton, William Sadler, Ice-T, Ice-Cube, De'voreaux White, and Art Evans the film has enough gravitas and attitude regardless of the story.
Arkansas firemen Don (Sadler) and Vince (Paxton) are out on a routine call when they’re faced with a disturbed man spouting gibberish about a treasure map. Before going up in flames he hands Vince newspaper clippings and a map pointing to the location of Greek antiquities he stole from a church 50 years ago. After some quick pre-Google detective work, they track down the location to an abandoned building in East St. Louis. With both men having a rough go at life they’re decision to track down the treasure is a no brainer. Once inside the dilapidated building a, squatter named Bradlee (Evans) jumps them. Deploying a metal detector, the men tie up Bradlee and scour the dingy floorboards for their treasure. Unbeknownst to Don and Vince this particular building is the hideout for the notorious King James (Ice-T) and his band of thieves, including trusted associate Savon (Ice Cube) and brother Lucky (White). Don and Vince keep their cool as King James takes to the rooftop for a meeting with a suspected rival gang member. When shots are fired they witness a body crash through the building and look up to see King James and his crew. The gold diggers, in a fury of gunfire, grab Lucky and barricade themselves in a locked room. With the band of trigger happy men unaware of the millions in gold hidden in their hideout Don and Vince formulate an escape plan.
I found Trespass incredibly refreshing to watch with its dirty, grimy look and bare bones aesthetic. Hill’s stylized action fits perfectly with the frantic gun battles erupting in the confining environments of the building. Paxon and Sadler are cast perfectly opposite Ice-T and Ice Cube. Though a few words can be written about the race relation themes in the film I think Savon spells it out nicely with his “We’re just trying to get ahead like everybody else!” Sure the Arkansas country boys wanna pay off their mortgage and buy something nice for their girlfriend, but it's no different for Savon and Lucky and the host of other gang members pouring into the building. Though loyal to his “King”, Savon spouts “King James? Ain’t nobody king of the street. It’s all about survival. It’s all about gettin’ yours.” At this point I’m not necessarily rooting for our firefighters to ride into the sunset with bags of gold. Don and Vince aren’t boy scouts in this story, either. Each makes morally repugnant decisions in hopes of getting rich. However, Paxton works his butt off giving Vince a sense of humanity as Sadler escalates Don’s violent lust for gold. If anything I want to see Ice-Cube and Ice-T resolve their differences. But hey, who has a right to the treasure hiding in the abandoned building, anyway?
Trespass is a solid action film that plays to its strengths without swinging for the ropes. Thanks to the hidden treasure the stakes are high, but at no point does Hill show us an environment or scene too ambitious for the dirty warehouse we’re stuck inside. Nice touches like grainy video camera footage and cellphones place this Treasure of the Sierra Madre homage squarely in the 90’s. Remember pulling out your cell phone’s antenna with your teeth? Ah, flip phones! Seeing Trespass reminded me of a time when action films relied upon something firmer than flash and glamour to sell the coolness of being tough. I’m happy that this pleasing hip hop thriller is back in circulation after years of obscurity.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Trespass makes its Blu-ray debut thanks to Shout! Select. The film is pressed onto a BD50 Region A disc housed in a standard blue keepcase with Select spine number 24. Disc loads to Shout factory logo followed by a static menu screen. When you hear Ice Cube pounding through the speakers you’ve made it! Typical navigation options are available.
Trespass makes it’s HD debut on Blu-ray with a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer that's in very good condition. Skin tones are even. Fine film grain is apparent and well balanced throughout the feature. Even with the dark environments of the film shadows are detailed and black levels are deep and consistent. No signs of noise or artifacts. If you need one reason to upgrade that old 2004 DVD, picture quality is it.
Trespass offers a brilliant DTS-HD MA 2.0 and a PCM Stereo track as available audio options. The DTS mix is rich and deep handling all the effects, dialogue, and musical elements without sounding smashed. Dialogue is clear and clean. You might want to turn down your subwoofer levels a bit given the amount of rap in the film’s soundtrack. English subtitles are available.
Vintage Featurette: “Behind the Scenes of Trespass” (upscaled SD 4:06) - Original EPK featuring interviews and behind the scenes footage.
Deleted Scenes (upscaled SD 4:48)
Music Video (HD 3:24) “Trespass” by Ice-T & Ice Cube
Theatrical Trailer (upscaled SD 1:59)
Trespass is an excellent example of “They don’t make 'em like they used to”. Walter Hill’s lean thriller expertly balances stylized action with an engaging story filled with memorable characters. I’m extremely happy that Shout! Select resurrected this gem from obscurity. Fans of the film will be glad to know that they delivered a great A/V presentation with a respectable set of special features made exclusively for this Blu-ray. Trespass hasn’t looked or sounded this good on home video ever! Recommended.