Blu-ray Review: WE DIE YOUNG

WE DIE YOUNG is based on the award-winning short film Roads. The movie was written and directed by Lior Gellar (Roads) and stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, Elijah Rodriguez, Joana Metrass and David Castañeda. The movie follows Lucas, a 14-year-old boy inducted into gang life in Washington, D.C., is determined that his 10-year-old brother won’t follow the same path with the help of an Afghanistan war veteran (Van Damme).

Jean-Claude Van Damme shines in this gritty action-thriller set in a crime-ridden barrio of Washington, D.C. When ruthless drug lord Rincon and his MS-13 gang recruit 10-year-old Miguel to work as a runner, big brother Lucas is desperate to keep Miguel safe. Fleeing for their lives, the boys are rescued by a veteran with PTSD named Daniel (Van Damme), who helps them find their revenge. Finally, on the wedding day of Rincon’s sister, the ghetto explodes with violence.

Lucas is a bright 14-year-old with a lot of potential but he’s trapped in a life that includes being a drug runner for this MS-13 gang in Washington D.C. He’s not only a mule but Rincon, the drug lord, thinks of him as a family member and his unofficial right hand man. The thing is, Lucas is secretly wanting out of this deadly life but most of all he wants his younger brother Miguel to have a future away from it all. This is where Daniel comes into play because he’s a junkie and Lucas is his supplier but the veteran knows what kind of dangerous life the teen is living and when he sees that the kid needs some help he seizes the opportunity.

What happens is, Lucas is sent out on a delivery and is warned not to screw things up, almost like he’s being set up, and when the kid fails to deliver, partially because of Rincon’s jealous goons, he and his brother become targets. Daniel not only risks his own life to save the boys but he takes on the MS-13 without hesitation that kind of serves as some redemption for the battle damaged veteran who turned into a junkie. With Daniel’s help, Lucas and Miguel are finally able to escape the dangerous life of the drug cartel and have the chance of a fresh new start.

The packaging comes with a slipcover/o-card. The front features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image and list of special features. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, We Die Young is not only a departure for Van Damme but it’s his best movie in years. It’s also his best performance even with limited screen time. The movie deals with the struggles of gang life in Washington, D.C. and the real-life threat that is MS-13. This is one of those gangs that when you’re in – you can’t get out. I really liked how Lior Gellar gave the movie its violent and gritty street vibe that gives it an authentic appearance. The viewer gets to see how this MS-13 drug lord handles his business as well as his personal life but it also deals with the struggle of being trapped in this world with little to no hope of getting out. In this case, there’s veteran with PTSD that helps these two kids find a way to escape from this drug-filled nightmare before it’s too late. The movie has a really good story with great performances but it’s also super violent and has that whole nasty drug thing going on. All in all, not only is We Die Young a gripping and intense watch but it could also serve as an eye-opener for anyone who doesn’t know just how dangerous these ruthless gangs can be. We Die Young will be available on Blu-ray (plus Digital) on April 9th.

Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Defintion 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Special Features: The extras include some audio commentary, a storyboard-to-screen comparison, behind-the-scenes featurette, official trailer and a digital copy of the movie.

  • Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Lior Gellar and members of the cast.
  • A Storyboard-to-Screen Comparison (04:38)
  • “On the Set of We Die Young featurette (10:16)
  • We Die Young Official Trailer (02:02)
  • Digital Copy
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