Marked: The Complete Season One – DVD Review

Tattoos used to be a taboo thing. If you had a tattoo forty or fifty years ago, you were considered a rebel. People with tattoos back then were deviants of normal society’s rules. Today, tattoos are nowhere near as taboo. In fact, the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s could be considered the apex of tattoo popularity. Getting a tattoo during that time period was THE thing to do. If you wanted to be in the “In Crowd” you had to get a tattoo. Now the popularity of tattoos for average citizens has started to die down. That hasn’t stopped tattoos from being seen everywhere on a variety of people. But instead of focusing on the tattoos of average people The History Channel’s newest documentary entitled Marked wisely focused on the tattoos of the more traditional deviate groups such as prisoners, military members, and gang members.

Marked is all about tattoos, and the story behind certain tattoos. This documentary attempts to explain the hidden meanings behind prison, gang, and military tattoos. In the process, Marked also gives a brief history of various criminal organizations including the Russian Mob, the Japanese Yakuza, and various Hispanic and motorcycle gangs. Each episode focuses on one of those particular subjects and talks to people directly involved with those groups about their tattoos and tattoos of others like them.

Tattoos might not seem like a fascinating documentary, especially for The History Channel. Marked focuses more on those in rebellious groups with interesting stories to be told. The interviews with people either in or have been in prison or in gangs or in the military is quite interesting to watch. At the same time, some of the subjects interviewed almost glorify their horrendous criminal actions at the same time as describing their tattoos. That can be quite shocking to watch as well.

In the end, Marked is an entertaining documentary series, especially for those that love cultural anthropology. It’s fascinating to learn why deviate members of society join certain groups and get certain tattoos, because they are in those groups. There is also some good historical background information on the criminal organizations featured here, but if you want to know more about gangs, then you should definitely check out The History Channel’s Gangland. If you want to learn more about unique tattoos from unique people, Marked is the documentary to watch.


Disc One:

Episode 1 – The Devil’s Cage
In prison, tattoos can be used to mark allegiances to various gangs.

Episode 2 – Death Ride
Outlaw bikers use tattoos to display their pride in their lifestyle.

Episode 3 – Barrio of Blood
Chicano tattoo style began in prison but has since spread across many facets of culture.

Disc Two:

Episode 4 – Pure Evil
In the Russian criminal underworld, tattoos can have various hidden meanings.

Episode 5 – The Kill Zone
For military veterans and active soldiers, tattoos are marks of honor.

Episode 6 – Death of the Yakuza
Tattoos are an integral part of Japanese organized crime.

The video is given in non-anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The transfer is okay, but it looks pretty much like it did on television. No major problems, though.

The audio included is in English 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either.

There are no extras for this DVD set.

The set as a whole is really not worth a purchase, since the series is short and there are no extras. But it’s definitely worth renting or checking out on TV if you want to learn more about tattoos and how they fit it into the culture of deviant groups like various gangs and prisoners.

A&E Home Entertainment presents Marked: The Complete Season One. Created by Mario Barth and Billy Burke. Running time: 264 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: May 25, 2010. Available at

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