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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Blue Chips

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    Blue Chips

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1994

    Rated: PG-13

    Length: 107 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1

    English Subtitles

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features: None

    S.R.P.: $14.99, USD

    Release Date: March 29, 2005

    Screenwriter Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump, Tin Cup) has made a living writing sports films. Blue Chips goes beyond the game of college hoops and indicts big-school NCAA graft, as well as providing a look at the sport itself.

    Though familiar territory for Shelton, Blue Chips is a bit of a departure for director William Friedkin. He handles the subject well, however, and provides some excellent game footage that pulls you into the action.

    Nick Nolte is coach Pete Bell, a man known for running a clean program. After experiencing his first losing season, he comes under terrific pressure from the “friends of the program” to get back on top, by whatever means necessary. Refusing to pay his athletes, he goes on a cross country trek in search of the next college hoops star.

    He lines up a great front line... but when one of the athletes asks for cash, Bell begins to question his ethics. Seeking guidance from his athletic director (played by Celtic great Bob Cousy), he is told merely, “I know nothing... I don’t want any part of this.”

    Reluctantly, Bell goes to see a rich “friend of the program” named “Happy” (J.T. Walsh). Happy, getting Bell’s okay, begins to buy athletes in ways that leave no paper trail to him or to the program. The cash awards lead to a winning season, but at a great cost.

    The film is compelling, if predictable. Performances are good, overall. Game footage is outstanding. But perhaps the most interesting bit about the film is the long list of hoops personalities that appear in the film, either as themselves or as another character. These people include: Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, Dick Vitale and others.

    Non-hoops actors include, in supporting roles, Mary McDonnell, Ed O’Neill, Alfre Woodard, and Louis Gossett, Jr.

    If I could only pick one film about basketball, it wouldn’t be Blue Chips. Shelton’s streetball film, White Men Can’t Jump is a more entertaining film. Then, of course, there’s David Anspaugh’s Hoosiers, perhaps the best hoops film ever. Blue Chips pulls in at third.

    The Transfer

    This is a beautiful transfer.

    Brought to you in anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1, the picture is sharp and detailed, with only a hint of ringing in only those areas where there is a sharp change in contrast (such as building against sky). Other than this occasional ringing, there are no other visible artifacts of note.

    Color is beautifully saturated, delivering bold, neutral colors throughout. Contrast is high, with strong black levels and restrained highlights. Shadow detail is good.

    The print is immaculate, almost completely free of defects.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack really delivers the goods. Frequency response is good, if slightly lacking in low bass response. Channel separation and soundfield directionality is outstanding, especially in game sequences. You hear players all around you. P.A. sounds and crowd noise can be heard from all directions. It sounds as if you’re standing on the sidelines for the game.

    Dialog is always clear and understandable, though a few scenes exhibit a sort of hollowness in the dialog. This seems to be in the original audio acquired on location. The soundtrack is free of hiss.

    For an 11 year old sports film, you can’t ask for much better than this, in terms of A/V quality.

    Special Features
    There are no special features.

    Final Thoughts
    Bargain priced and with a good transfer, hoops fans should be pleased with this Paramount release.
  2. ZacharyTait

    ZacharyTait Cinematographer

    Aug 10, 2003
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    Excellent review. If I had the $$$, I would pick this up, as I too consider it a pretty good sports movie.

    I wonder if Shaq's "acting skills" have gotten better in the 11 years? Judging by Kazaam and Steel, probably not. [​IMG]
  3. Harold Wazzu

    Harold Wazzu Supporting Actor

    Oct 1, 2003
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    Wow this one came in under the radar for me, didn't even know about it. If I can find a good deal on it I'm all over it.
  4. PatrickDA

    PatrickDA Second Unit

    Jan 27, 2005
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    I've picked this up at DeepDiscountDVD.com for $9.36, which
    is a steal for one of my personal favorite sports movies!
    I LOVED Nick Nolte as Coach Pete Bell! This is the 2nd best
    basketball film made in my opinion!
  5. James L White

    James L White Supporting Actor

    Jun 29, 2002
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    Great movie, I remember seeing this in the theater instead of Ace Ventura 1 :b

    ordered it from DDD.com and it shipped on Friday [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

    Feb 4, 2002
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    Boy Howdy! Under the ol' radar is right! I hadn't the vaguest! Where on Earth did this release come from? Was this announced months ago by Paramount? If so, I totally missed it. (And I've made a habit of checking for Blue Chips on occasion).

    Great flick. Love the Nolte destroying the water cooler scene. ..... "This is without a doubt the DUMBEST team I've ever coached! You don't deserve uniforms! You oughta be playin' in your jock straps!! God-d***-it!!!!!!" [​IMG]

    Been looking forward to this one for better than three years here @ HTF. [​IMG]

    Also: According to the packaging, there's a 2.0 DD Surround track here too -- which, I believe, would equate to the "original" 1994 soundtrack; there's a 2.0 Surround on the VHS version, and I've always been impressed by the sound, esp. (as pointed out by Scott in his review above) by the "crowd" sounds/cheers; really puts you right there courtside.


  7. The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

    Jan 29, 2019
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    I recently watched the Nolte/Friedkin sports film Blue Chips (1994) on the DVD. Incredible movie. I'm not a sports fan at all, but this movie about college basketball was very compelling.

    Being a huge Friedkin fan, I'm surprised I never heard of this film before last year - but, it's obviously very underrated these days.

    This is definitely one of Nick Nolte's best films, and maybe even his best film. Great acting here by him & everyone else in the movie.
    The final scene where he went in front of all of the news reporters & admitted that they were paying young basketball players "under the table" to come play at their school was surprising & unexpected.

    The PQ on the regular DVD is acceptable. However, it would be nice to get this in HD. So, a Blu of this film would be nice to have.

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