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Drug Wars: The Camarena Story

Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Drama
Video: 1.33:1 fullframe
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Language: English
Subtitle: English (cc)
Length: 130 min
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 04/22/2003
Studio: Artisan Home Entertainment
Commentary: None
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: None
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: Trailer
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: Benicio Del Toro, Steven Bauer, Craig T. Nelson, Treat Williams, Elizabeth Pena
Written By: Ann Powell, Rose Schacht, Mel Frohman, Christopher Canaan
Produced by: Branko Lustig
Directed By: Brain Gibson
Music: Charles Bernstein
The Review:

Having been trimmed from the original length of somewhere near 270 min, this truncated version of "Drug Wars: The Camarena Story" feels too brief in its depiction of the events that took place in 1985. The film tells the true-life story of DEA agent Enrique Camarena (Steven Bauer), whose discovery of a Guatemalan marijuana operation eventually led to the discovery of a corrupt Mexican government awash in political cover-ups and deception. Benicio Del Toro plays drug lord Rafael Quintero, who ordered that Camarena be killed, which brought about these subsequent findings. The cast brings out the best in their characters, with Del Toro playing a role quite different than that of his Oscar-winning "Traffic" portrayal. But what about the sacrifices of the material in regards to cutting the piece to fit a specific running time? Too much of "Drug Wars" skims the surface without ever truly digging very deep, leading me to believe that the full, uncut version was probably more worthy of one's time.

Image and Sound

A good but not terrific transfer. The film's fullframe ratio provides for some noticeable film grain throughout, while things like color saturation and contrast are so-so in places and well-done in others. Edges are sharp with some slight enhancement halos, and there are some visible compression artifacts here, too. Just fair. ***

The sound is mastered in Dolby 2.0 Surround, and while it's not one of the better tracks of its kind, it's certainly not the worst. The surrounds are used sparingly throughout for the occasional sound effect and some music, while dialogue and front-end separation are good. Deep bass is minimal in places and used only when needed.

The Extras Nothing but a trailer here.
Commentary None
Final Words: It would have been nice to see the full-length version of "Drug Wars," but I guess this shorter version will have to suffice.

Send all Comments to Teakwood Productions
May 28, 2003