Movie Review: Once Upon A Time In Venice (Blu-ray Combo Pack)

Once Upon a Time in Venice was directed by Mark Cullen who co-wrote the screenplay with Robb Cullen. The film stars Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Famke JanssenThomas Middleditch, Emily Robinson, Jessica Gomes and Tyga.

Bruce Willis plays Venice Beach P.I. Steve Ford: a detective who’s good with the ladies, bad with the punches, and wild about his dog, Buddy. But when his beloved pet is stolen by local thugs, Steve makes a questionable alliance with their devious leader, Spyder (Jason Momoa). Teaming up with his best friend (John Goodman), Steve pulls out the big guns in search of Spyder’s stolen cocaine and cash in order to set things straight and get Buddy back where he belongs.

The movie follows Steve Ford, a private detective who is a self-proclaimed advisor and staple of Venice Beach. He’s a likable guy who’s laid back, a trust friend to all, and most of all he loves his dog Buddy. What happens is, he crosses paths with Spyder, aka the wrong guy to mess with, while doing a favor for a friend, and the Cholo decides to steal Steve’s dog to get a little revenge. The thing is, Spyder doesn’t have possession of Buddy long because other shady characters come into play and the little dog goes from one thief to the next. Now Steve has to form a weird and unusual alliance with Spyder to help him get his dog back. Steve has to ask for favor after favor from some oddball friends and aquaintances and in return he has to repay them for their services in some rather unusual ways. In the end, everybody gets what they want, well most of them, and Steve ultimately saves Buddy.

There are things I liked and disliked about Once Upon a Time in Venice. The movie does get a little boring at times but there are also some fun moments with the main characters who get in predicament after predicament. John Goodman looks a little out of place as this old school surfer dude who owns a surf shop but it’s still cool to see him and Bruce Willis in the same movie together. One of the good things about the movie is that it has quite a few fun cameos by some familiar faces that many of you will recognize. Adam Goldberg plays sleazy Lew the Jew, Kal Penn plays c-store owner Rajeesh, Christopher McDonald plays this shady business man, Ken Davitian plays Yuri the local loanshark, there’s boxer Victor Ortiz who plays henchman Chewy, comedian Billy Gardell as Officer Bill and even David Arquette shows up as wild rocker Diesel Stone for a few seconds.

The packaging comes with a slipcover/o-card. The front features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. Each disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for the high-definition disc were crisp and clear. The picture and sound quality for the standard-definition disc were really good. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I have to admit that I kind of liked Once Upon a Time in Venice even though it had some flaws with the biggest one being that it stalls at times. It’s also light on comedy and even lighter on the action but it does have its moments. It’s a caper that’s set in Venice and is loaded with a variety of unique characters – some likable and some not so much. The story was okay and all but it’s definitely the cast and their characters who make the movie watchable. Bruce Willis’ character is this likable guy and center piece of the story who has to put on this crazy juggling act with these shady characters so he can eventually get his dog back. There’s also Jason Momoa who sort of steals the show with his hilarious performance as Spyder. He’s plays this notorious drug dealer who also serves as some of the film’s comedy relief and he does a great job. Mark Cullen did an okay job directing the movie and bringing this story to life on screen but it could have been better. I’ll watch it again so it’s not that bad of a movie. Once Upon a Time in Venice releases on a Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack on August 15th.

Distributor: RLJ Entertainment

Run Time: 94 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.40:1)

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

DVD Video: Widescreen (2.40:1)

DVD Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Special Features: There’s not much as far as the extras go but we do get a behind-the-scenes featurette that includes a few interviews with some of the cast but unfortunately Bruce Willis and Jason Momoa are MIA.

  • “Behind-the-Scenes” look at Once Upon a Time in Venice (16:41)


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