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Brian De Palma
Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller
Writing Credits:
David Koepp

A Puerto Rican ex-con pledges to stay away from his former drug dealing ways but finds himself being dragged back by his past connections.

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend:
$9,116,675 on 1615 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS:X
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 145 min.
Price: $59.95
Release Date: 9/26/2023

• Audio Commentary from Film Critic/Historian Matt Zoller Seitz
• Select-Scene Commentary from Film Historian Dr. Douglas Keesey
• “Carlito and the Judge” Featurette
• ”De Palma’s Way” Featurette
• “Cutting Carlito’t Way” Featurette
• “All the Stitches in the World” Featurette
• “De Palma On Carlito’s Way” Featurette
• 9 Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Carlito’s Way Documentary
• Promotional Featurette
• Trailers
• Image Gallery
• Blu-ray Copy

• Lobby Card Reproductions
• Booklet
• Poster


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Carlito's Way [4K UHD] (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 28, 2023)

Apparently whenever director Brian De Palma and actor Al Pacino work together, they create flicks with lasting appeal that don’t do well during their original release. Such was the case with 1983’s Scarface.

It failed to attract a great audience back then. However, it gradually became seen as a gangster classic, a factor helped by the masses of rappers who adored it.

1993’s Carlito’s Way doesn’t enjoy the fame of Scarface, but it’s nonetheless managed to become more popular than its initial lackluster theatrical one would make one believe. The flick pretty much tanked back then, and I don’t recall that it received many positive critical notices. However, it maintained a decent following – at least enough for Universal to bankroll a 2005 direct-to-video prequel.

Way starts with its ending, as it introduces us to Carlito Brigante (Pacino) right after someone shoots and seriously injures him. We then flash back and see events from 1975.

Carlito gets out of jail after five years of a 30-year sentence. This occurs because his slick lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) wins an appeal based on a technicality because DA Norwalk (James Rebhorn) used some shady tactics during the original investigation.

A former big-shot criminal, Carlito claims he plans to go straight. He just wants to raise $75,000 so he can move to the Bahamas and invest in a buddy’s car rental agency.

No one believes this claim, though, and they constantly try to re-involve Carlito in illicit activities. He resists but finds his past tough to avoid, a factor that leads him to a mix of complications.

Since Way came based on novels by Edwin Torres, I know it had no connection to 1990’s much-maligned Godfather Part III. However, it’s easy to see a link since the story of Way feels like it’s a riff on the earlier flick’s most famous line: “Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in!”

That quote essentially sums up the plot to Way. Although this makes the movie follow a fairly predictable path, I don’t mind since it brings unusual depth for a gangster movie.

Most of these genre efforts go the Scarface route to look after the violent rise to power of those involved. Way takes the opposite road to look at someone who really does want to reform but finds it tough to avoid the mistakes of his past.

Carlito himself provides an unusually deep character for this kind of film. He still aspires to succeed and seems somewhat resigned to the fact that he’ll likely need to resort to some illegal methods along the way.

However, he truly appears to aspire to get out of the scene. It’s not lip service, and his past weighs on him much more than expected.

As the lead role, Pacino is a mixed bag, though usually good. On one hand, he shows too much of the bluster that mars many of his modern performances.

This trend remains exemplified by his work in Scent of a Woman, a turn notable mainly for his loud “hoo-ah!” exclamations. There’s too much aggressive Scent of a Woman in Pacino’s performance and not enough of the subtlety that he brought out in earlier flicks like The Godfather.

On the other hand, Pacino demonstrates a presence that serves the role well. For all his hamminess, there’s an authority and charisma Pacino emanates that help make Carlito much more believable than I otherwise might expect. When the actor backs off from his bluster, he seems eminently easy to accept in the role, as he really looks the part.

Pacino also depicts Carlito’s weariness well. Again, his non-verbal side works best. He conveys a lot with little looks and gestures. Despite his occasional bluster, Pacino manages to work fairly well in the lead part.

While the plot elements that involve his former girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) become necessary in the end, they often feel somewhat artificial. For much of the movie, they come across as grafted on, and they don’t mesh well with the rest of the tale. By the end, they add up to a little more, but I still think they act more as plot devices than anything else.

Carlito’s Way doesn’t serve as a great gangster movie, but it’s more than serviceable. It aspires to be something a little different, and despite some misfires, it usually succeeds. It works well as a nice change of pace.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Carlito’s Way appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The presentation worked pretty well.

Overall sharpness seemed good. A few slightly soft shots occurred – and were exacerbated by photographic choices – but the majority of the film stayed crisp and concise.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and the image lacked edge haloes. Grain felt light but appropriate, and I witnessed no print flaws.

With its Seventies setting and an emphasis on nightclubs, Way provided many opportunities for bright tones. The colors were the best aspect of the transfer.

They consistently appeared lively and dynamic, and they remained firm throughout the movie. HDR added oomph to the tones.

Blacks also demonstrated deep, tight elements, and shadows were clear and easily visible. HDR brought extra power to whites and contrast. This became a fairly strong image.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s remixed DTS:X sountdrack offered some pep, though not a lot given the nature of the story. Despite occasional action beats, Way remained a character piece most of the time.

This meant the soundscape largely focused on music and atmosphere. Those gave the soundfield a good sense of place, and the occasional more dynamic scene offered an appealing level of sonic involvement.

Audio quality was fine, though without great heft. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, and I noticed no signs of edginess.

Music appeared reasonably lush and full, and effects demonstrated fairly good clarity, even if the track never packed a particularly strong punch. Still, the audio suited the story.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the prior Blu-ray? Audio showed a little more zing, but not a lot, so the soundtrack remained good but not impressive.

Visuals demonstrated superior accuracy, colors and blacks. The 4K delivered an obvious upgrade over the Blu-ray.

Note that Universal issued a 4K UHD of Way in 2021. I never saw that one, but I strongly suspect the 2023 Arrow release uses the same scan and audio. Arrow 4Ks normally provide Dolby Vision visuals so that absence implies this disc replicates the 2021 edition.

This 2023 Arrow release mixes old and new extras, and on the 4K disc itself, we find an audio commentary from film critic/historian Matt Zoller Seitz. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, themes and interpretation, various cinematic techniques, and related topics.

Overall, we get a pretty good chat here. Seitz digs into an appealing array of subjects and gives us a nice overview of different domains.

The 4K disc also provides a select-scene commentary from film historian Dr. Douglas Keesey. He brings a running, screen-specific view of the source and its adaptation, story/characters, themes and genre domains, cinematic techniques, cast and performances, and a few production notes.

Keesey’s discussion runs essentially continuously through the movie’s 51-minute, 15-second point. After that, he takes a break until 2:09:58, and he wraps for good at 2:20:50.

It comes as a surprise that Keesey goes bye-bye for so much of the film, as he offers good thoughts for that initial 51 minutes. He doesn’t seem low on insights, and that makes his decision to only chat over

Whatever the case, Keesey does deliver a solid chat. He occasionally covers some of the same territory touched on by Seitz but he still provides a quality commentary.

On the included Blu-ray copy, we find the film itself, the two commentaries, and other extras. De Palma On Carlito’s Way offers a five-minute, 28-second featurette that brings the director’s comments on verisimilitude and various actors, visual elements, and movie critics.

De Palma tosses out a few interesting comments but doesn’t tell us much of use in this brief piece. It flies by too quickly and without enough depth to stick.

Nine Deleted Scenes last a total of eight minutes, 18 seconds. That running time doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything terribly memorable.

As such, don’t expect a lot from these clips. They mostly flesh out existing scenes and fail to present anything very compelling.

The Making of Carlito’s Way runs 34 minutes, 36 seconds. It includes remarks from De Palma, author Edwin Torres, producer Martin Bregman, screenwriter David Koepp, and editor Bill Pankow.

We learn about the origins of the story and its script development, bringing De Palma on board, Torres’ continued involvement in the project and inspirations for characters, the movie’s structure, working with the actors, dialogue and pacing, difficulties with/aspects of specific scenes, and the film’s reception.

“Making” hits on all the necessary bases to become a useful program. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, and that’s fine with me. It runs through the important aspects of the film’s creation with honesty and reasonable depth, so we get a good feel for the production here. It acts as a solid documentary.

The remaining extras didn’t appear on the previously released Blu-ray, and Carlito and the Judge runs 12 minutes, 32 seconds and delivers a chat with author Judge Edwin Torres.

The novelist discusses what led him to his second career as well as aspects of his work and his participation in the film. We get a good take on his side of the proceedings.

De Palma’s Way lasts 17 minutes, 33 seconds. It offers an “appreciation” from critic David Edelstein.

This piece looks at De Palma’s career in the early 90s as well as his thoughts about the film. “Appreciation” tends to imply simple praise, and we get some of that, but Edelsteing makes this an educated take on the project with a mix of insights.

Next comes Cutting Carlito’s Way, a 17-minute, 22-second piece. It provides info from editors Bill Pankow and Kristina Boden.

Unsurprisingly, this one looks at the editing of Way as well as related topics. It becomes an engaging view of these domains.

All the Stitches in the World spans two minutes, 59 seconds and compares the movie’s locations to how they appear circs 2023. It delivers a moderately interesting view.

An archival promotional featurette goes for five minutes, 13 seconds. With it, we get notes from De Palma, Bregman, Torres, and actors Penelope Ann Miller and Luis Guzman.

Unsurprisingly, this gives us a glossy overview of the movie’s story, characters and participants. It reveals little of interest.

In addition to two trailers, the disc finishes with an Image Gallery. It presents 269 photos that mix shots from the film, behind the scenes elements and publicity photos.

We find a lot of pictures here but not many that seem particularly interesting. Even the photos from the set tend to show little more than De Palma as he watches the shoot and grins.

In addition to these disc-based materials, the set includes seven lobby card reproductions, a booklet with an essay and production notes, and a fold-out poster. My discs-only copy lacked these materials, but I wanted to mention them.

Note that it appears the Blu-ray provided along with the 4K exists as an exclusive to this particular package. I see no indications Arrow has it on the release schedule as a solo product.

An unusual take on the gangster genre, Carlito’s Way mostly succeeds. It occasionally goes off-track with some weak plot threads, but it mostly keeps us interested and involved. The 4K UHD offers good picture and audio along with a solid set of extras. Carlito’s Way doesn’t match with the best crime films, but it works pretty well, and this 4K turns into a quality release.

To rate this film visit the DVD Review of CARLITO'S WAY

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main