Highway Patrolman: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (18th April 2019).
The Film

Moreover a character study than a feature film, "Highway Patrolman" AKA "El patrullero" is a fascinating and insightful look at the career of Pedro (Roberto Sosa) as he joins the ranks of law enforcement in the Mexican city of Durango. Going against the wishes of his missing, but still powerful father, Pedro joins the police in order to make some type of a statement against his culture. His upbringing, his own idea of masculinity, and as Marlon Brando once put it, “what else have you got?” Pedro is easily misled by the majority of people that he encounters including various females in distress, but as we watch the film progress, we see a change slowly overcome the feisty officer.

Made on a low budget, this was a definite change up for director Alex Cox, but this film is still extremely watchable and interesting. Supposedly financed with Japanese funds, the backers saw the film as a hybrid of the Samurai genre, and I reckon that is true to an extent. Pedro is an alienated outsider fighting a one man war against society and capitalism while traveling its back roads waiting for something to happen.

Roberto Sosa's Pedro is a small statured man that is full of pride; it reminded me of another cop film, "Ultra Glide in Blue" (1973), directed by James William Guercio, and also starring a half pint lawman with a similar attitude. Pedro is a strong willed person, and he takes his job and its responsibilities very seriously. We watch as Pedro makes it through the National Highway Patrol Academy and as he learns the lessons that the instructor imparts: “First stop them-and then figure out what they’ve done wrong.” Every driver falls into one of two categories: criminal or an income source; no one is innocent in Cox’s world. Pedro and his friend Anibal (Bruno Bichir) graduate at the top of their class and soon they receive their assignments and they hit the dusty highways. Pedro is almost immediately scooped up by a local rancher’s aggressive daughter Griselda (Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez) who is looking for a mate and the wedding bells start to ring. Money is an ongoing issue however; his wife threatens him because he is not making enough money and his supervisor complains that Pedro is not bringing in his quota of tickets. What is a poor lonely highway patrolman to do except to seek out the company of a local prostitute, Maribel (Vanessa Bauche) who also has a nagging drug problem? Poor Pedro can’t do anything correctly, but his pride keeps getting in the way from accepting bribes and other easy money.

“I used to think that Highway Patrolman was about the impossibility of doing good. But now I think it’s really about the impossibility of imposing goodness on others.” Alex Cox.

Pedro soon has a child and another on the way. His wife certainly seems to wear the pants in the house as in an intense scene Pedro comes home after a night of carousing and Griselda brandishes a very sharp knife to her husband’s carotid artery until he pacifies her with a fistful of dinero. What is that old saying about pride coming before a fall? Pedro is now adept at looking the other way and taking the forthcoming bribe easily, but there is still something that bothers him, like an unscratched itch. Is it his conscience that bothers him or is it the ease of which he commits the sin?

The film is akin to the ghosts of Sam Peckinpah’s past films as various locales are visited and during the commentary track Cox and screenwriter Lorenzo O'Brien mention both "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and "Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" (1974) as sites used in "Highway Patrolman". At one point in the film Pedro attempts to pull over a vehicle that was speeding and the villains simply start shooting which causes our hero to obtain a leg wound that gives him a considerable limp. The script at times feels like it was penned by a deranged Mexican Flannery O’Connor as we see Pedro scream to the sky wondering where God was when his comrade was ambushed by some bad men with guns and drugs. The film was supposedly inspired by a Mexican driver that Cox had hired to help him scout locations for his earlier film "Walker" (1987), who incidentally also was a graduate from the "Highway Patrol" school. Is the film loosely based on facts and then translated through the head of Cox or is this simply the stuff of fiction? I leave it to you the viewer to decide for yourselves.

Video

The image is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p HD 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression. This version of the film features a brand new 4K restoration overseen by Cox and the film looks magnificent. I really enjoyed Cox’s use of lengthy shots and resisting the need to be overly edit happy, especially the six minute handheld shot of Pedro limping down the highway to his friend’s wrecked cruiser (complete with a limping Pedro). The outdoor scenes are very nice and the skies really help establish a specific mood throughout.

Audio

There's a single Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track. The Zander Schloss score is very nice and accompanies the quiet moments in the film well. Sound effects and dialogue are all effectively mixed and not overwhelming. The entire film is in Spanish and English subtitles are supplied.

Extras

There are a number of extras included with this Blu-ray including an audio commentary track between the director Alex Cox and screenwriter/producer Lorenzo O'Brien and these two reveal all sorts of details of the production.

There's a brand new 2018 introduction by Director Alex Cox (2:31) to the film.

"Patrulleros & Pattruleras" featurette (35:00). Various scenes and conversations with the actors and crew.

"From Edge City to Mapimi" featurette (5:31). Cox digs holes in a forest setting and talks briefly about the two films.

"Edge City aka Sleep is for Sissies" a short student film by Alex Cox: (35:05). For completists only.

2018 Re-release Theatrical Trailer (1:07) is included.

There's also a Bonus Trailer for: "Straight to Hell Returns" (0:59).

Booklet Essay by Simon Abrams.

Packaging

Comes packaged in a standard Blu-ray case.

Overall

I am a fan of Cox’s and I think that he takes huge risks with his films; whether this makes him a fool or a one shot wonder is subject to debate.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.