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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

Face / Off [Blu-ray]

(John Woo, 1997)




Also available in a Blu-ray Steelbook:


Review by Gary Tooze



Blu-ray: Paramount



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

English: DTS-ES Matrix 6.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH, English, French, Spanish, none



Audio commentary by John Woo and writers Mike Webb, and Michael Colleary
2nd audio commentary by Mike Webb and Michael Colleary
7 deleted including an alternate ending (with optional commentary) - in HD!
Featurette: The Light and the Dark: Making Face/Off (in HD!)
Featurette: John Woo: A Life in Pictures (in HD!)
Theatrical Trailer (in HD!)

50GB Blu-ray Disc



Product Description: John Travolta stars as FBI agent Sean Archer doing the unthinkable to stop the elusive terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage). Watch the bullets fly and the action explode as master action director John Woo (Broken Arrow) detonates the screen in this special collector s edition DVD. Loaded with high-voltage special features this two-disc set redefines the action genre like never before!





The Film: Pay attention, none of this makes much sense. Five years after the murder of his son, FBI agent Sean Archer (Travolta) finally has the drop on terrorist Castor Troy (Cage) - but with Castor comatose and a bomb ticking somewhere in LA, Archer's persuaded to undergo facial surgery, swapping Castor's features for his own. In this way, Archer-as-Troy (Cage) hopes to trick the location out of Castor's brother Pollux (Nivola). Unfortunately, Castor wakes up, and makes off with Archer's face, killing everyone who's in on the secret, and moving into his enemy's office. Woo's poetic-kinetic style has evolved, if not to the point of abstraction, then to delirium: he makes a virtue of incredulity. With two of Hollywood's most flamboyant actors playing each other, the movie becomes a kind of pop Heat, an elaborate self-parody and quasi-serious examination of the art of film acting. Yet there's an authentic subversive frisson as Travolta (as-Troy-as-Archer) sizes up his rebellious teenage daughter, puts the sizzle back into a stale marriage, and generally carries on with the air of a sociopath getting the most out of life. 'Are we having any fun yet?' he demands. Twice over.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE




NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.


Image: I have some reservations about, both, the film itself and the 1080P image which is marred with edge-enhancement. I did note severe-to-moderate instances of edge-enhancement and, what look like potential, moiring (a style choice?) although I'll wager neither would be off-putting for fan-base of this particular film. The performers look mannequin-like at times - almost too 'clean' (waxy). The colors are a bit muted but contrast and detail are reasonably strong... Noise is virtually non-existent and the film has a fairly dark (intentional?) look.  Positively there is a fair level of consistency with the visuals on this title with a few bona-fide instances of 'wow' factor - perhaps, more attributed to the cinematography.  

















Audio & Music: I sampled both English audio tracks (DTS-ES Matrix 6.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX) and they are some of the best I have heard on my new system. I believe a lot of effort went into the track in production (and less on continuity details?!?) and it presents itself extremely well in this Paramount Blu-ray. Tight separation is undeniable - with some remarkable subtleties that can eventually explode you into the next room. The audio transfer approaches zenith demo-quality. There are optional subtitles, adequately translated, in English SDH, standard English, French or Spanish flavors - off-white font with a black border. Like all Paramount discs this is region FREE Blu-ray.




Extras: The two commentary tracks (same as on the previous HD) are another solid enticement for fans to indulge although they are also directly duplicated from the 10th Anniversary edition. The first features director Woo and co-writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary. It covers a lot of ground from production details - choreographing action sequences and the writers give input on finalizing the script. The second track features the same participants with Woo apparently in the washroom and they, perhaps feel more free to discuss the enigma surrounding him. There are seven deleted scenes lasting around 8 1/2 minutes with optional commentary by above listed writers and like the next two featurettes - a five-part documentary entitled The Light and the Dark: Making 'Face/Off' this is in HD also. The 1/2 hour featurette: John Woo: A Life in Pictures sums up his career to that point to some degree. We are also given the theatrical trailer in HD. To be honest, I struggled through these supplements as I am not a fan but can see those keen on Face/Off eating them up with relish (and mustard!). Bottom line is that Paramount spared little expense in augmenting this bombastic BRD 'Special Edition' package. 





Bottom line: I find this is one giant machismo infused drama with scattered details and omissions all over the place. But as violence-art goes from Hollywood it is probably 'iconic'.


The Blu-ray video itself is definitely imperfect. The audio is stupendous and the extras (dual commentaries and featurettes in HD) may be appealing enough to shift the balance towards a purchase especially of you are a fan of the film. I have quite a few 'buddies' that this will this a make the perfect go-to disc. The film is a wild ride - one that I, personally, wasn't particularly keen on taking. Others embrace it as one of the more extreme examples of non-stop, explosive, gun-toting cinema made in the 'lost' 90's. To each his own, although this latter statement may actually be quite accurate. This Blu-ray should satisfy its, less-discerning, fans, but those demanding a superior 1080P image should be patient.  

Gary Tooze
May 21st, 2008

New Captures - May 2014




Also available in a Blu-ray Steelbook:




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About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze