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Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: Locked 'N Loaded Director's Cut (Unrated)

Eddy is a pretty good card player — a great one, in fact, and when he and his pals Bacon, Tom, and Soap manage to pool £100,000 together, they figure it's time to take on Harry The Hatchet in a game of poker. Never mind that The Horrible Hatchet is the meanest bastard in London's East End, with both Big Chris and Barry the Baptist on his payroll. But when Eddy drops £500,000 over the table and must make good on his debt, he and his pals decide to rob a gang of criminals led by one tough sonofabitch named Dog, who are planning to rob a marijuana operation headed by the botanist Winston. Will Eddy be able to pay off The Hatchet before his dad loses his pub? Where does funk-soul brother Rory Breaker fit in to all of this? And whose side is Nick the Greek really on? In his debut feature film, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), writer/director Guy Ritchie serves up a comic masterpiece, boldly making use of at least 15 substantial characters and then concocting a whirlwind of plot twists surrounding six groups of criminals, a bag of money, a van full of ganja, and two antique shotguns, as the valuables change hands back and forth between the competing crews, all of whom are trying to claim what they believe to be rightfully theirs, or at least get the goods in order to stay alive. The cast members — largely unknown at the time to American audiences (with the exception of Sting as Eddy's father) — never miss a beat, and they are so well-defined in Ritchie's script that not one of them is easily forgotten (Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng, and Vinnie Jones got some early exposure here). Unfortunately, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels has been widely described as an English Pulp Fiction — a comparison that is both intellectually lazy and grossly unfair to both movies. While Two Smoking Barrels does share with the Tarantino über-flick a penchant for blood-soaked black comedy, the characters and plot structures of both films are extremely different. Violence aside, Ritchie's film draws more from such classic crime capers as Raising Arizona and A Fish Called Wanda, in addition to instantly joining the ranks of the legendary British gangster flicks The Long Good Friday and Get Carter — and that's some nice company to share. Universal's second DVD release of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels — an unrated "Locked N' Loaded Director's Cut" — extends the film from its original 107-min. theatrical running-time to 120 min., although it appears to fall short of a reported 126-min. UK "Director's Cut." The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and DD 5.1 audio are splendid, and extras include the featurette "One Smoking Camera" (11 min.) and "Lock Stock and Two F**cking Barrels," which seems to recount most of the times the word "Fuck" is uttered in the movie, which is sort of a lot (2 min.). However, deleted from the original DVD release are a short featurette with cast interviews, a guide to Cockney rhyming slang, cast bios, U.S. and U.K. theatrical trailers, and (of course) the U.S. theatrical cut, making "Locked N' Loaded" an alternate DVD version rather than a true upgrade. Keep-case.

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