Directors: Ossie Davis and Christopher Crowe
Shout! Factory

Shout digs into the vaults of Fox to release a forgotten blaxploitation effort from Ossie Davis (COTTON COMES TO HARLEM) called GORDON'S WAR and even pairing it with a discontinued title that Anchor Bay originally released when they still had a deal going on with Fox; OFF LIMITS. Now fans can enjoy both films on a double-feature disc.

GORDON'S WAR opens with decorated Vietnam vet Gordon (Paul Winfield, THE TERMINATOR) returning to his stomping grounds of Harlem when he finds out his wife died of an overdose of heroin. Enraged, Gordon decides to make a stand against the drug dealers by forming his own army consisting of friends Bee (Carl Lee, SUPERFLY), Otis (David Downing) and Roy (Tony King, REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER). It seems the drug dealers are being controlled by kingpin Spanish Harry (Gilbert Lewis) and the army one-by-one battles pimps, wiseguys, crooked businessmen, and most of the scum Harlem has to offer. The production values are what to expect for a low-budget film as it was shot on location in Harlem and in and around New York City. Also appearing in small bit parts are Ralph Wilcox (COP AND A HALF) as a hot dog vendor who gets pummeled when he crosses Gordon's gang and Charles MacGregor (BORN TO WIN) as a dope pusher. The action scenes are well-choreographed, including a scene where Winfield burns a villain with a can of aerosol and a wild car/motorcycle chase that ends in a bad crash.

Released on video by CBS/Fox in the late 1980s, Shout! presents the film in a brand new anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.78:1) and it looks near flawless with some grain and blemishes, considering it was a taken from a 35mm print (like a number of Shout! DVD titles that have been released).The mono audio comes through clear with no problems. Extras include a commentary with King and director of photography Victor J. Kemper in which the two men talk about the making of the film and some fond memories of how they interacted with Winfield off-camera and that he was a real gentleman to work with. Kemper explains how he shot the entire climatic chase scene as there was no second unit crew available and King basically talks about how he got cast in the film and touches upon the rest of his acting career. The original trailer and two TV spots are included.

In OFF LIMITS, we are transported to war-occupied 1968 Saigon, where we meet police officers Buck McGriff (Willem Dafoe, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.) and Albaby Perkins (Gregory Hines, RUNNING SCARED) who are assigned to investigate the killings of some local prostitutes. They suspect the murders are done by high-ranked, but deranged Colonel Dexter Armstrong (Scott Glenn, NIGHT OF THE RUNNING MAN). Action abounds as the two officers find themselves in jeopardy as the try to find Armstrong. Car chases, shootouts, and violence ensues in this sadly obscure period piece. The talented supporting cast also includes Fred Ward (TREMORS) as their superior officer, Amanda Pays (TV's "Max Headroom") as a streetwise nun, David Alan Grier (BOOMERANG) as a fellow officer who assists Dafoe and Hines and Keith David (THEY LIVE) as an uncooperative witness.

As stated above, this was one of many titles that Fox licensed to Anchor Bay for DVD. Having been discontinued for a while, Shout! re-releases this as part of the double feature set. It's presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement and it's the same transfer used on the old AB disc. The print looks good with a light coating of grain and some speckling, but generally looks clean. The mono audio is in good condition, too. The only extra is a commentary ported over from the AB release featuring Crowe and Dafoe as they talk about the production of the movie. Dafoe explains how he was the first actor cast in the film and how the cast and crew worked under the unstable weather conditions. It's too bad Shout! didn't include more extras (the old disc of this film had a vintage featurette and trailer included) but the entertaining commentary is worth it alone.
(Kyle McElravy)