K-11 Blu-ray Review
K-11 is an immensely confusing film. It attempts to be a prison drama, a story of redemption in a man lost to the world of drugs and vice, and a poorly executed, quirky, dark comedy on the state of humanity. K-11 suffers from an identity crisis that renders it nearly unwatchable. Thankfully the leading actors provide some chemistry and soft touches to an otherwise uneven and strange feel that is the film. Based on a real jail ward in Los Angeles County specifically for gay men and transgenders, Jules Stewart (mother of TWILIGHT’s famous open-mouthed Kristen Stewart) gives us a meandering morality tale that just takes itself too seriously.
Outwardly, K-11 is the tale of Raymond Saxx (Goran Visnjic), a popular record producer who appears to be the prime suspect in a murder case. Coming down from heroin and cocaine, Saxx is despondent and nearly unresponsive as he is processed through the jail system awaiting his time in court. When he finally comes to, he is being taken down the hall to K-11, with no idea where he is or how he got there. Saxx finally becomes cognizant of the reality of his situation when the head guard, Johnson (played eerily by D.B. Sweeney), immediately starts to pick at and threaten him.
Johnson is a drug addict who has been taking advantage of his position by physically and mentally abusing the inmates. One in particular, Mousey (played with ferocity by Kate del Castillo), has a tender place in his heart, but she doesn’t return those feelings. Mousey is using him for the drugs he helps to smuggle into the ward, but eventually even Johnson realizes that she doesn’t care for anything that doesn’t increase her power and influence within K-11. Saxx’s arrival throws the balance throughout the ward into chaos; even though he tries to keep to himself he starts to care for his fellow inmates, at least as far as it may help him meet his own needs.
As I wrote above, K-11 is a confusing film. There are hints of deeper meaning – Saxx’s relationship with people with whom he would never have interacted before this situation, his friendship with a troubled young transgender named Butterfly (Portia Doubleday) and their troubling encounters with a child molester named Detroit. Detroit is awaiting sentencing and has nothing to lose, and is played with a reckless abandon by Tommy “Tiny” Lister. Lister actually gives the bravest performance in the film (words I never thought I would write).
Part of the confusion may be in how immersed the cast and crew became when they arrived on set. Several weeks spent in isolation in an old jail ward may have helped develop the milieu of the prison on screen, but it invariably muddied the storytelling. It appears everyone got too involved on giving an accurate portrayal of the ward and forgot about the deeper meaning… at least I hope there was a deeper meaning. I’m sorry to say, K-11 just isn’t worth the time.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The HD on K-11 looks really good, green and slightly desaturated really fits the feeling. It’s not very stylized for most of the film though there are a few moments early that made me scratch my head with some strange flashbacks (described nicely in the commentary but disorienting during initial viewing).
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio was brilliantly captured in the halls of this real jail they used to shoot K-11. You will feel like you are in the middle of prison.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jules Stewart and Producer Tom Wright Jr. (01:28:21) Stewart provides some interesting tidbits throughout the commentary but there are a lot of long pauses while they watch K-11, which doesn’t play well when we’re listening for their input. A dead give-away for something that isn’t as interesting as you hope, leading in with “oh, this is interesting.” If the long silences don’t bother you at the beginning, this is a pretty in-depth commentary (though the extreme technical focus emphasizes K-11’s problems).
Behind The Scenes (01:56) A little video interspersed with two shots almost make this an actual ‘behind the scenes’ feature on the K-11 disc. It feels a little bit like cheating, though, to call it special.
Deleted Scenes Four scenes are included that didn’t make the final cut from K-11. The scenes all add a little bit to their characters, which wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Surprisingly, the opening of the movie provides a dimension to Saxx I’m glad they didn’t include. The scenes included are: Cold Opening (01:38), Mousey Gets Sexy (02:41), Butterfly on a Wall (01:49), Johnson Gets Angry (00:05).
Interviews: Goran (05:27) Mr. Visnjic is exuberant about his work. An under-valued star who started on ER during its twilight, his joy working on this film and acting in general made the entire experience of K-11 MUCH better than it could have been. Kate (04:36) Kate del Castillo was surprised to be offered a male role, but she did a phenomenal job in this film. Her limited grasp of English is endearing after watching her in this incredibly heavy role. DB (02:29) Mr. Sweeney’s a bit less enthusiastic to be working on K-11. Others (06:24) Features a few different quick interviews with cast and crew talking about their passion for Jules Stewart and for the story in general.
Music Video My Liberty (03:24) Cast member and member of The Cult during their 2001 reunion, Billy Morrison played Hollywood in the film and wrote this song while on set. My Liberty is actually a pretty decent song.
Photo Gallery (01:30) A photo gallery of stills from the film, featuring the song My Liberty mentioned above.
The Blu-ray release of K-11 features the original Trailer (01:53) along with trailers for other Breaking Glass features.