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It's the early 70s and George Jung (Johnny Depp) leaves his working class parents (Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths) for California. He sells pot on the beach, then imports it from Mexico and distributes it in America using his air-hostess girlfriend (Franka Potente) as a courier. George becomes very rich, but it's during his first of many stints in jail that he really hits it big, for his Colombian cell-mate (Jordi Molla) has links to Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis), a feared drug lord in need of a distributor in the US. That's how George becomes the man credited with introducing America to coke. Neither he - nor his wife (Penelope Cruz) - ever imagined the consequences.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Based on the book by Bruce Porter and scripted by David McKenna and the great Nick Cassavetes, Blow is one helluva trip into Jung's downward spiral. Director Ted Demme, who died of heart failure soon after the film's release, has made a hip, penetrating biopic of Jung's rise and fall during the emerging high-roller counter-culture of drug trafficking in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Using rich detail, highly stylised fashion, musical and visual signifiers, Blow covers similar terrain to other self-narrative portraits of counter-culture martyrs (Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, Robert DeNiro in Casino, Ray Liotta in Goodfellas), but Demme never forgets that Jung was a fallible human suffering at his own weak-minded greed. Thankfully, the background to the movie and the true story behind it are enriched by a host of special features on the DVD.

Watching the movie with Demme and Jung's commentary, it's easy to see the two formed a close relationship even though it was entirely within the confines of the Otisville Correctional Institution, where Jung is still imprisoned. Jung's input on the events and goings on during the scenes Demme depicts is at once enlightening, amusing, and depressing. Even more candid is Demme's interview with Jung in prison, which spans their first meeting to Jung's reaction to being played by Johnny Depp to his thoughts of the final cut.

The real eye-opener, however, is the 23-minute matter-of-fact documentary "Lost Paradise: Cocaine's Impact on Colombia." A brief history of that country and its political climate during the 60s and 70s, it uses interviews with Colombian politicians, priests, journalists and filmmakers to explain how cocaine production came to permeate every facet of Colombian life. How ordinary families suddenly became wealthy landowners. How the country's main business quickly became drug trafficking. How Pablo Escobar initiated an era of fear, violence, and political terrorism. And how it has ravaged the environment, people, and economy.

The shorter "Additction: Body and Soul" featurette takes in clinical opinions of medical experts and sufferers of drug addiction, showing human physiology's predilection to it. One particular interview with a Jungian Psychologist seems amusingly ironic. Deleted scenes with Demme's commentary, outtakes, a production diary and a music video round out a balanced, non-judgmental mix of special features on the DVD, adding depth and meaning to the film and the sad true story behind it. I called Blow the best film of the year when it hit cinemas last August. I think I still do.

Published March 7, 2002

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia



CAST: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths, Franka Potente, Paul Reubens, Jordi Molla


RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.35:1, Dolby 2.0, Dolby 5.1, English for the hearing impaired, Greek Subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES: George Jung interviews; Lost Paradise - Cocaine impact on Colombia; Addiction - Body and Soul Fact Track; Audio Commentary with Ted Demme and George Jung; Production Diary; Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary; Character Outtakes; Music Video - Nikki Costa "Push and Pull"; Cast and Crew; Theatrical Trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 20, 2002

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