(Mabrouk El Mechri, 2008)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video:Peace Arch Home Entertainment Disc
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 17,020,904,604 bytes
Feature Size: 15,938,076,672 bytes
Average Bitrate: 22.01 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 28th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
English, English (SDH), Spanish, none
• Theatrical trailer (2:16)
• Deleted Scenes (5:31)
Description: The "Muscles from Brussels" is back and facing the biggest fight of his life. Returning to his home town for some much needed rest after losing his daughter in a lengthy custody battle, Jean-Claude Van Damme finds himself smack in the middle of a bank heist. Even worse, the cops think the penniless aging action star is the culprit. Now in the midst of a dangerous hostage situation where everyone wants their piece of Van Damme, JCVD will have to use his Hollywood training to plan an escape. But can Van Damme really be the underdog hero in real life?
Van Damme obviously was a good sport to make this movie, which is like every self-parodying Bruce Willis cameo rolled into one. The movie opens with a virtuoso single take in which Van Damme fights, chops, shoots and kick-boxes his way down an endless street while dozens of stunt men topple from high places, cars explode, and at some point it becomes very funny. The Computer-generated imagery is so evident and the fights so choreographed that it confirms something I've long believed: The most difficult thing an action star does during a battle scene is to hit his marks.
The suspense in the hostage crisis is pretty much a dud, and the standoff ends as it must, but it's funny when JCVD's old parents tearfully implore him to release his prisoners and express concern about the turn his career has taken. Van Damme says worse things about himself than critics would dream of saying, and the effect is shockingly truthful. I sorta enjoyed myself. I could have done without the scene where he floats in anguished reverie, making Hamlet sound like an extrovert.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE
Despite whether or not you like the 'style' of this film's cinematographic appearance (shot on Super35 - thanks Marvin!) - which I, personally don't - the Blu-ray image is still very weak. The heavily contrasted feature appearance takes up less than 16 Gig of space on a single-layered disc. Honestly, I don't know how this looked theatrically (undoubtedly similar) but the indoor blown-out brightness of background lights certainly doesn't lend itself to a pristine high-definition presentation in my opinion. Technically the bitrate is just over 20 Mbps but I don't know that a stronger transfer would lend itself to a more-watchable image - probably not. I even expect that this doesn't excel over the simultaneously released Region 1 DVD by an extravagant amount - so I'd be more prone to suggest that is a reasonable way to see JCVD as you won't be losing much more with an SD-rendering. Beyond my dislike the of film 'look' - this weak Blu-ray transfer is certainly not stellar or even moderately acceptable in my opinion. It strikes me as a film that doesn't radically benefit from high-definition regardless.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
No HD audio and hence no exceptional range or depth. Advertised on the back of the package as 'Theatrical French and English versions of the film'. Meaning essentially a DUB - or even the same DUB used theatrically in the English speaking world. I watched with French audio and subtitles (available in English - on the French version - or Spanish as an option) but would have been just as satisfied with the English language. As we have the same 5.1 tracks as used on the DVD edition - this is another reason to opt for that cheaper digital version.
There is only a 2 1/4 minute theatrical trailer for the film in HD - and other trailers precede the start of the presentation. There are 5.5 minutes worth of deleted scenes in SD with optional English subtitles. That's all folks.
NOTE: There are other country Blu-ray versions of JCVD - but I don't own... and won't be comparing, but have been told the UK version HERE has HD audio and more extras.
April 20th, 2009
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 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 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. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
Gary W. Tooze