L.A.’s Best Schlock

L.A. Wars is not a parody of mindless late ‘80s/early ‘90s anti-drug action movies. At least, not intentionally.

It’s subjective whether playing this as such might offer any improvement. If L.A. Wars’ creative team realized what they had, there’s endless gag potential. Much of it is already in L.A. Wars via the hilariously kitsch tough guy mobster dialog spewing out everyone’s mouth. And the hero, Jake Quinn (Vince Murdocco), argues with the local police chief like Axel Foley talked back to his own in Beverly Hills Cop – just without the humorous tinge, or Eddie Murphy’s charisma.

L.A. Wars doesn’t contain a single plausible spoken word in 90-minutes

Not a single cast member acts like a professional actor, but delivering such inane and stock lines from the script doesn’t allow room to maneuver either. The Italian mob is represented by endless near-racist stereotypes, and Quinn serves up something akin to The Simpsons movie-in-a-show parody McBain.

L.A. Wars doesn’t contain a single plausible spoken word in 90-minutes, and the action’s hilarity further stocks up on tropes. During a slow motion car chase (where neither side can capably hit either vehicle), one car smashes through clearly empty boxes that so happen to be in the middle of the road. During a street level shootout, passer-bys stand around and watch the filming rather than running from the gunfire.

The narrative itself churns up the Nixon/Reagan drug war paranoia, with the city falling to countless shootouts over cocaine and rival factions. Posters for DARE line the police station’s walls, the well-funded American government-funded anti-drug campaign that was obligatory in grade schools during the decade. That was meant for kids though. L.A. Wars overcooked, R-rated adult edge (language and nudity both extreme for the sake of it) mocks the crisis, however unintentional that mockery may be.


Scanned from “archival elements” according to the box art, that translates to “best available materials.” As a 16mm source, likely multi-generational, it’s a messy presentation of a satisfying 2K scan. Damage, dirt, and scratches rail on on the clarity, at times to the point of grindhouse era film stock.

Grain intensity varies. Encoding can only do so much. When at its worst, the screen is a mess of noise, compression, and grit. At best, L.A. Wars replicates the 16mm source beautifully, and at high resolution. Some detail breathes behind the grain structure, but given how far removed this is from the negative, there’s only so much to show.

Hot contrast clips fidelity at the brightest levels. Crush in the shadows is likely inherent to the source too. Color survives to some degree of satisfying pop. Flesh tones flatten out, but primarily due to the hotter contrast.

Note L.A. Wars is presented at 1.33:1, but this exposes a few boom mics at the top of the screen. Maybe L.A. Wars was open matte? Just a guess.


Neither option is great. Stereo and mono PCM come with their own individual complications. In mono, the worn, dried out dialog sounds delivered from under a pillow, especially during interiors where the empty sets echo.

Stereo offers far better clarity, as L.A. Wars brightens considerably in terms of dialog reproduction. However, directional effects spread unnaturally wide, and there’s a deep bass mixed terribly. Bullets exits guns with a puffy jolt that sounds more like the sub has a hole in the cone. Even deeper voices rumble the subwoofer, and that’s on a low volume setting. Don’t turn L.A. Wars up.


Co-director, co-writer, and producer Tony Kandah provides a moderated commentary, and then returns for a separate 17-minute featurette. Cinematographer Mark Morris spends around 25-minutes discussing his part before trailers and stills bring this Blu-ray to a close.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

L.A. Wars
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Pitiful to a point of self-parody, L.A. Wars is brilliant unintentional genre satire and entertaining on accident.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 31 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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