Kobe Doin' Work – DVD Review


Spike Lee is one of the most loved and hated film directors today. If you are sports fan, you also know Spike’s second love is basketball. He is considered the #1 fan of the NBA’s New York Knicks by many. Lee has directed Michael Jordan in commercials for Nike and helmed the film He Got Game starring Denzel Washington and NBA’s Ray Allen. For his latest NBA-related project Spike Lee decided on Kobe Doin’ Work, a documentary about the biggest star in the NBA today, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The documentary was inspired by the 2006 documentary Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which presented a single soccer match entirely from the perspective of the French soccer star Zidane. In this documentary, Spike Lee brings tha same idea to the NBA basketball court. Here viewers get to be on the court alongside Bryant for the majority of the documentary. Thirty cameras were set up to capture Kobe Bryant’s every move, while a wireless body microphone records every word he says. The game featured is the April 13, 2008 matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs that would help determine which of the teams would be the #1 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. The post-game press conference is also presented here as well. Kobe also provides commentary throughout the documentary to explain the action more in-depth.

Basically, Kobe Doin’ Work is the day in the basketball life of Kobe Bryant. That is both good and bad. The good thing about that is that this documentary is definitely unique, especially for the majority of Americans who probably haven’t seen the Zidane documentary. At the same time, though, Bryant’s off-the-court issues are probably just as interesting to some as his basketball skills. Therefore, this documentary will only be intriguing to hardcore basketball fans. There is no drama and not that many funny moments, except when Bryant jokes around with his teammates.

Kobe Bryant is a polarizing sports figure. Some love him and some hate him. But there is no doubt that he is one of the greatest players in NBA history. So there will be many who will say that what you hear from Kobe Bryant is not real. He knew he was miked up and all the cameras were pointing at him. What exactly is real and what is not? For the majority of the documentary, everything looks and feels real. Once the game becomes a blowout and we get more of a voice-over commentary from Kobe Bryant about what is going on, etc., that is where Kobe Doin’ Work transitions into a PR piece for Bryant. There is no doubt, though, that the visuals presented in this documentary are unprecedented. You don’t always get to see the entire game, but you never feel left out on what is happening all over the court.

Even though this release may please die-hard Lakers fans, it also serves as an instructional DVD for coaches trying to teach their players about what it takes to make it in the NBA. Basketball may be a game, but for Kobe Bryant, and almost all other NBA players, it’s a serious business. Kobe Doin’ Work may not be in the upper tier of Spike Lee joints, but it is definitely unique and an interesting premise.

The video included is available in both widescreen color presented at the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. You also have the option to hear the uncensored Kobe audio commentary version, the censored broadcast cable version, and the “Game Only” version with no audio commentary from Kobe. The quality is great. Every angle of the court is presented here and they all equally look impressive. No problems at all here.

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. Everything that happens on the court and around the arena during the game is heard loud and clear here. Some might be concerned that Kobe’s running voice-over commentary might get in way with the game audio, but it never really does. No problems here either.

“Introduction to the Film by Spike Lee” – This is a one minute introduction by Spike Lee talking about what they did on that night. Basically, quickly sets up the documentary since there is no backstory presented here.

“Spike Lee on Kobe’s Commentary” Featurette
This runs 3 minutes and here Spike Lee talks about the challenges of getting Kobe Bryant to provide the audio commentary for this documentary. Kobe did the commentary after he scored 61 points against the New York Knicks with the New York hometown crowd yelling “MVP”.

Deleted Scenes: “The Unseen Fourth Quarter”
This runs 9 minutes and it’s just what it says. The fourth quarter was not featured in the film, mainly because the game was a blowout by that point and Kobe sat out most of it. No audio commentary by Kobe Bryant here, but it does showcase Kobe Bryant and his teammates during the fourth quarter of the game.

Deleted Scenes: “Press Conference”
This runs 2 1/2 minutes and it’s the full short press conference with Kobe and the media after the game.

Photo Montage
This is 4 1/2 minutes collection of photos of Kobe Bryant during the game. The montage is played along with Bruce Hornsby’s piano playing.

Music Video
This is a 4 1/2 minute music video for the song “Levitate” by Bruce Hornsby. Video footage and photography of Kobe Bryant plays during the video.

“E:60: Behind the Scenes” Featurette
This runs 3 minutes and it’s a short interview with Spike Lee about Kobe Bryant and the production meeting with the crew. Interviews with the crew members working on the film as well.

Upper Deck Kobe Bryant trading card

If you want to watch a technical breakdown of the sport of basketball through the eyes and mouth of Kobe Bryant, then Kobe Doin’ Work is the documentary for you. There is enough special features to recommend buying this DVD, even if you saw it on TV. You really have to love basketball to be entertained by this, though.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents Kobe Doin’ Work. Directed by Spike Lee. Starring Kobe Bryant. Running time: 84 minutes. NOT RATED. Released on DVD: November 24, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

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