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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Graceland [Blu-ray]


(Ron Morales, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Imprint Pictures

Video: image Entertainment



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:24:02.829 

Disc Size: 25,116,964,306 bytes

Feature Size: 17,846,083,584 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.98 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: July 23rd, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Tagalog 2161 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2161 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio Tagalog 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH) (burned-in)



• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ron Morales, Producers Rebecca Lundgren, Sam Rider, DoP Sung Rae Cho and Gaffer Blaise Miller
A Life For Every Lie: The Making of Graceland (12:23)
Deleted Scenes (9:30)
Alternate Ending (1:09)

Trailer (1:45)
16-Page Booklet
High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film





Description: Intense and unpredictable, GRACELAND is the story of family man Marlon Villar, the longtime chauffeur of Manuel Chango a corrupt Filipino politician. One afternoon, while he and his daughter accompany the politician’s daughter home, their car is ambushed in a kidnapping attempt. During the confusion of the ambush, the kidnapping goes horribly wrong and the wrong girl is taken and held for ransom. Marlon is determined to save his daughter, but between the conflicting motives of the kidnappers and Chango, Marlon is forced into a terrible downward spiral. As events unfold, Marlon, Chango, and their families are forced into a game of deceit and betrayal that will leave no one innocent.



The Film:

Family man Marlon Villar is the longtime chauffeur of prominent politician Manuel Chango. While he and his daughter accompany his boss' preteen daughter home, Marlon is ambushed and the wrong girl is kidnapped. Suddenly the unassuming driver is propelled into a horrifying downward spiral and, as events in his life unravel, Marlon, Chango, and their families become entangled in a game of deceit and betrayal that will leave no one innocent.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

It feels as though the wheel has been rigged against Marlon from the start. His job as the driver for congressman Manuel Changho (Menggie Cobarrubias) involves turning a blind eye to his employer’s vices – including a fondness for underaged prostitutes – and the boss is none too pleased when Marlon tells him that Sophia (Patricia Gayod), a schoolmate of his daughter Elvie’s (Ella Guevera), has been taken by thugs demanding $2-million in exchange for her life. Marlon’s real goal is recover his own daughter, taken as collateral. This means kowtowing to the kidnapper and also running interference with the police, who suspect that he might be in on the plot, and with Changho, whose willingness to co-operate ebbs and flows in accordance to his overwhelming avarice and ego.

Grace is not a virtue possessed of any of the film’s characters. Leon Miguel is superbly nasty as the heavy, but the actors all land in a broad spectrum of shady behaviour. Reyes’s performance is a study in anything-goes urgency, and yet not even his character is above reproach. While he is not an actively bad man, it’s clear that his complicity in Changho’s crimes has come back to haunt him.

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail located HERE

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

Graceland was shot with a Canon 5D (1080P) and put to Blu-ray by Image Entertainment (Drafthouse Films). It tends to have a few more of the weaknesses of this versatile production format looking waxy and soft in-motion. I even notice a touch of edge-enhancement that is probably inherent in the filming process. Predictably it does not handle direct outdoor lighting well but on the positive the appearance is consistent and seems a true representation of the theatrical - warts and all. Obviously no grain texture, mostly a flat, unresponsive image with little depth but close-ups show some decent detail.  This sneaks into dual-layered territory with a middling bitrate. I don't expect that a more robust transfer would dramatically improve the 1080P presentation. It is what it is and I don't have any complaints. This Blu-ray provided me with a riveting and suspenseful presentation.




















Audio :

Option of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2161 kbps or a standard Dolby surround - both in original Tagalog (Philippines) language. Surprisingly the film doesn't have an abundance of aggression. There is some gunplay but beyond that it is mostly dialogue or the sounds of the street which does create some rear channel separations establishing an aura. The English (SDH) subtitles are burned-in yellow (sample below) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

We get a group audio commentary with Writer/Director Ron Morales, Producers Rebecca Lundgren, Sam Rider, DoP Sung Rae Cho and Gaffer Blaise Miller basically going through the production details as the film runs queuing certain method discussion from the participants. There is also a Making of... entitled A Life For Every Lie running about a dozen minutes. There are 10-minutes worth of deleted scenes, a brief alt-ending, and a trailer. The package has a 16-page booklet and access to a 720p HD Digital download of the film. Quite a lot considering that Image Entertainment usually don't add much in the way of supplements.



Graceland has some very harsh scenes - that are hard to forget. The more I reflect on this film - the more impressed I am with it. On my initial viewing certain plot points seemed odd but I think I understand it better, and will continue to do so, with repeat viewings. The Blu-ray is probably as accurate representation of the a/v as we are likely to get and the supplements are appreciated. The film is strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 11th, 2013


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






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