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“Brawl in Cell Block 99” Beating the System

“Brawl in Cell Block 99” Beating the System

The crime drama Brawl in Cell Block 99 makes its way onto Blu-ray, DVD and 4K. The film tops the charts as one the most excruciatingly brutal movies to be released this year. If you are not offended by extreme violence or don’t get queasy from the sight of blood and cruelty, then this film may be your cup of java. That said, the crime story does have some vindication behind all the willful chaos.

Getting laid off from his job at a towing company, Bradley (Vince Vaughn) cleans out his locker and heads home. When he gets there things start getting worse finding out that his wife Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter) has been seeing someone. Taking it out on her car by tearing it apart with brute force, starts a rage within him. Trying to figure it all out, he tries to come to grips with the lack of income and works out a chance to bring his wife back into his life by running drugs for Gil (Marc Blucas), an old friend.

Jennifer Carpenter as Lauren Thomas and Vince Vaughn as Bradley Thomas in the action film BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of BCB99, Inc

Quickly getting rich and with Lauren pregnant, he realizes it’s the bump he needed to get his life back. One night Gil introduces Bradley to Eleasar (Dion Muciacito) a crystal meth runner that will provide a large payoff to pick up his shipment. Gil asks Bradley to go along and make sure the pickup goes as planned. When the job goes bad, Bradley gets arrested and finds himself behind bars.

At the prison for months, things get even worse when Bradley gets a visit from Placid Man (Udo Kier). He tells Bradley that he must do a killing behind bars or his wife will have her unborn child deformed in her womb. Director and writer S. Craig Zahler moves his film along at a snail’s pace attempting to get every nuance of every scene as dark and brooding as possible. In between he unleashes a massive amount of beatings, thrashing and other cruel punishments. It’s a tough prison and he shows it up close and deadly.

Vince Vaughn as Bradley Thomas and Don Johnson as Warden Tuggs in the action film BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of BCB99, Inc.

It’s a different kind of role for Vince Vaughn the funny man of film. In this unusual side of Vaughn we see a very menacing, brooding and psychotic performance characterizing Bradley to the point of scary. This role is 180 degrees from his norm in movies where he has played persons like Jeremy Grey in the Wedding Crashers or Wes Mantooth in Anchorman. For me he captured essence Bradley and makes the film work.

The film drags a lot and there are times when you start to wonder why the production company seems to be stretching the film. The camera lingers on close-up shots and insignificant scenes that tend to make the film unjustifiably stung out. Although I found this to be a downside, the film is still worth watching the performances of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Carpenter.

Udo Kier as Placid Man in the action film BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of BCB99, Inc.


The disc has two bonus features interesting for both budding filmmakers and if you’re just curious on how the film was made.

“Journey to the Brawl” a making of Brawl in Cell Block 99
“Beyond Fest Q & A” a panel of actors and crew field questions about the film at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains extreme violence, language and drug use. The brutal beatings, some with mutilation, are very ugly and can be upsetting to the immature.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A film that accentuates the brutality of prison life. (3 out of 5 stars)

Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry, Udo Kier, Rob Morgan, Geno Segers, Fred Melamed, Dam Amboyer, Pooja Kumar, Clark Johnson, Philip Ettinger
Director and writer: S. Craig Zahler
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains extreme violence, language, drug use
Genre: Crime, Drama
Running Time: 2 hrs. 12 min.
Video Release Date: December 16, 2017
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 6, 2017
Language: English
Reviewed Format: DVD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Wide Screen Aspect Ratio1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Number of Discs: 1 Disk
Distributed by: RJLE
Released in: DVD, Blu-ray, 4K

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