The bullets, blood, and bravado fly so fast in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, a gritty portrayal of what's referred to as the biggest firefight to ensnare U.S. troops since Vietnam, that it is hard to distinguish between the buzz-cut soldiers. But while Scott's beautifully composed chronicle of the ill-fated October 1993 mission in Somalia that left 18 Americans dead sadly sacrifices actors (and character development) for action, the three-disc set breathes tangible life into the brave crew and their stories, lending resonance to a film sometimes criticized as shallow.
Ranger and Delta Force commandos emotionally recall their hellish 15-hour assault in one of the set's three commentary tracks; an episode of PBS' ''Frontline'' and the History Channel's special ''True Story of Black Hawk Down'' also detail the factors that contributed to the Somalians' fierce anger and explore how the battle still echoes in the current geopolitical climate. Scott's master craft can be witnessed through ''Ridleygrams'' (the director's hand-drawn storyboards), a production-design archive with more than 140 photos and sketches, and a 150-minute making-of doc (which details the actors' transformation into soldiers -- complete with haircuts). Though the overwhelming arsenal of extras might leave you shell-shocked, the comprehensiveness of this deluxe edition enriches Scott's harrowing memorial to those who fell and those who fought when the Black Hawks went down.