H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Rescue Dawn [Blu-ray]


(Werner Herzog, 2006)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: MGM

Video: MGM



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:05:22.515

Disc Size: 42,902,296,608 bytes

Feature Size: 37,173,159,936 bytes

Average Bitrate: 39.53 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 20th, 2007



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4011 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4011 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Commentary by Werner Herzog and interviewer Norman Hill

• Seven Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Herzog and Hill

• The 'Making of..." True Story - multi-part documentary (52:57)

• Honoring the Brave - Interactive memorial

• Preparing For Survival featurette

Before the Dawn Mission Secrets Trivia track

Photo Gallery

Theatrical trailer in HD





Description: American pilot Dieter Dengler is shot down during a top secret mission to destroy Viet Cong strongholds in Laos at the beginning of the Vietnam War. Taken hostage, he endures unimaginable conditions at the hands of cruel captors in a makeshift POW camp. Dengler's iron will to survive guides him and his fellow prisoners in a meticulously-planned, death-defying escape, only to discover the harsh realities of an unforgiving jungle beyond the camp's walls.



The Film:

Werner Herzog's "Rescue Dawn," based on Dengler's experiences, begins early in the Vietnam War, when Dengler is a U.S. Navy pilot stationed on a carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin. At 18, he enlisted to get American citizenship and to fly. Assigned to a secret, illegal bombing mission over Laos, he is shot down, and the film involves his experiences as a prisoner of war, his escape and his harrowing fight for survival in the jungle. He was one of only seven Americans to escape from a Viet Cong POW camp and live. Dengler (played by Christian Bale) scoffs at his flimsy bamboo "cell" until a fellow American tells him, "Don't you get it? It's the jungle that is the prison."

His ordeal includes tortures in the camp (he is hung by his heels with an ants' nest fastened to his head) and an agonizing trek though the jungle, at first with a fellow American named Duane (Steve Zahn), then alone. Herzog makes no attempt to pump this story up into a thrilling adventure. There is nothing thrilling about dysentery, starvation, insect bites and despair. The film heads instead into the trembling fear at Dengler's center.

This feature has been long on the mind of Herzog, who film for film is the most original and challenging of directors. He used the real Dieter Dengler in a 1997 documentary named "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," in which he took Dengler back to the jungle, and together they re-created his escape while Dengler provided a breathlessly intense narration.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



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

Dual-layered, this Blu-ray disc produces a stellar image. With the greenish prominence of the  jungle (shot in Thailand) - the image can appear slightly enhanced in regards to the colors. I can't find conclusive evidence that it was manipulated but the foliage looks excessively vibrant at times. Details has strong moments while contrast and shadow representation seem quite strong and supportive of the film's intended look. There is even some very qualified depth.  aside from the exhaustive colors the image seems near perfect and the Blu-ray is very worthy on the visual front.















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at over 4000 kbps is as competent as the image. Rescue Dawn has a unique issue regarding the audio - there are many sequences where dialogue is extremely hushed for risk of exposure. the track mix does a solid job of giving adequate volume to the whispers while in the action sequences with explosions, guns, planes and helicopters are crisp and demonstrative producing a healthy depth and surprising range.  There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu signifies that this Blu-ray is region-locked to 'A'.




Extras :

Supplements are stacked with veteran commentarist Werner Herzog joined by interviewer Norman Hill. There are some fascinating discussion moments and it's really worth the time invested. There is also an, almost hour-long, 'Making of..." True Story documentary in 6-parts with a 'Play All' function. We get seven deleted scenes with optional commentary by Herzog and Hill. Beyond the Preparing For Survival featurette - at 8:13 but I wished was longer, a 'click thru' Photo Gallery and Theatrical trailer in HD we have Blu-ray exclusives Before the Dawn Mission Secrets Trivia track and Honoring the Brave - an Interactive Memorial. Excellent coverage and enough historical to both garner appreciation and whet your appetite for even more.



This is a very good film that we should have reviewed earlier (Ooopps Leonard did HERE). It covers fabulous optimism incorporating survivalist techniques - adventure and comraderie and the wonders of the human spirit. The Blu-ray almost looks too good and gives a wonderful film experience for your home theater. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 26th, 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 HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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