D. O. A.

DVD released: March 5, 2003.
Approximate running time: 95 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37.1 Fullscreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
DVD Release: King Records
Region Coding: Region 2 NTSC
Retail Price: 3,990 Yen

Reviewed by:
Ian Jane on January 8, 2005.

Quick links: [video] [audio] [extras] [overall]
The Film
Lech Kowalski's 1980 documentary, D.O.A. (his premiere film as a director), on the genesis of punk rock is an interesting look at the early years of the movement. Given the subtitle 'a rite of passage' this movie takes interview and concert footage of some of punk rock's earliest bands and edits it all into a ninety-five minute snapshot of the late seventies scene.

Not only does this film contain some great interview footage with a very stoned looking Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen captured not too long before their notorious end, it also contains some behind the scenes shots from the first North American Sex Pistols tour, and some Terry and the Idiots footage as well.

The musical performances/tracks contained in the documentary are as follows:

Anarchy In The U.K. - The Sex Pistols
Oh Bondage Up Yours - X-Ray Spex
God Save The Queen - The Sex Pistols
Pretty Vacant - The Rich Kids
Liar - The Sex Pistols
Kiss Me Deadly - Generation X
I Wanna Be Me - The Sex Pistols
Pretty Vacant - The Sex Pistols

No Fun - The Sex Pistols
New York - The Sex Pistols
Rip Off - Sham 69
Borstal Breakout - Sham 69
I Wanna Be A Dead Boy - The Dead Boys
Holidays In The Sun - The Sex Pistols
EMI - The Sex Pistols
Bodies - The Sex Pistols

What separates this film from the other punk rock documentaries of the time is that it does an interesting job of showing how certain authority figures saw the movement as a threat. The Sex Pistols show in Texas does a good job of demonstrating how people tend to lash out against things that they don't understand or are afraid of.

But, like usual with this type of material, the real reason to watch this one is the music. The majority of the material is Sex Pistols stuff (watching the guy in the wheelchair on the floor at one of their shows is odd!), fitting as this was based around their tour more or less, but there are a lot of other great 'old school' performances on here too, including a live song by The Dead Boys and some footage of Billy Idol and Generation X before he turned into suck in the eighties.

Video 3/5

D.O.A. is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio on this DVD. The movie wasn't shot under the best conditions and there a few times when the movie isn't lit very well but aside from that, this transfer isn't bad. The colors look decent enough, print damage - though present - isn't overly distracting, and for an old indy documentary on punk rock that was shot mostly in bars and clubs on 16mm, everything looks just as good here as you could realistically expect it to.

Audio 3/5

This DVD contains the films original Dolby Digital Mono mix and has optional Japanese subtitles. There's some mild hiss on the track and plenty of background noise throughout, but again, this is due more to the shooting conditions under which the film was made than the actual DVD. For the most part, dialogue is pretty clear and the music sounds like it should - it's raw, rough and loud.

Extras 2/5
In addition to the films theatrical trailer and a still gallery containing promo art, photos, and the permission note Sid Vicious gave to Kowalski allowing him to use his image in the film, there's also the Johnny Thunders - Sad Vacation segment. This is a video capturing Thunder's doing an acoustic song in remembrance of Sid Vicious. There's also a brief interview with Thunders at the end of this ten minute segment in which he talks about Sid.

Overall 3/5

The King Records Japanese market release is a little short on extra features considering the hefty price tag it carries, but the audio and video are sure a lot better than the VHS copies of this movie still floating around. D.O.A. does a good job of capturing the early years of punk from both in front of and behind the stage.

Order this disc from: www.xploitedcinema.com

Film Rating DVD Rating
Director: Lech Kowalski

Writer: Lech Kowalski, S. Chris Saleswicz

Released: 1980

Cast: The Sex Pistols, Generation X, The Rich Kids, Joe Strummer, Nancy Spungen



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