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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Killer Elite [Blu-ray]

 

(Sam Peckinpah, 1975)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

'Cut': Exeter/Persky/Bright

Video: West Side Video / Twilight Time

 

Disc:

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

'Cut' Runtime: 1:56:06.918

Theatrical Runtime: 2:03:27.566 (US MGM DVD is 2:02:52 and the AR is, about, 2.29:1)

Twilight Time only has the theatrical: 2:03:21.268

Disc Size: 47,149,410,900 bytes / 36,028,277,797 bytes

'Cut' Feature Size: 23,483,578,368 bytes

Theatrical Feature Size: 20,292,636,672 bytes / 28,617,203,712 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.67 Mbps / 19.93 Mbps / 25.00 Mbps

Chapters: 16 / 12

Case: Black slim Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: February 6th, 2013 / September 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 835 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 835 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 936 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 936 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Theatrical: DTS-HD Master Audio English 829 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 829 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 830 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 830 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1201 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1201 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2014 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2014 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

French, none

 

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Passion and Poetry - Sam Peckinpah's Killer Elite (27:54)

Trailer (2:07)

TV Spot (1:33)

• Radio Spots (3:33)

Promotional Material slideshow (4:15)

 

Noon Wine (1966), the Sam Peckinpah-directed television version of Katherine Anne Porter’s novella, starring Jason Robards, Olivia de Havilland, and Theodore Bikel, available here for the first time on home video - with optional commentary (51:18)
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, and Nick Redman
Passion and Poetry: Sam's Killer Elite (27:45)
Isolated Score Track
Promoting The Killer Elite (4:15)
TV and Radio Spots (5:10)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

 

Bitrate:

West Side Video 'Cut' TOP - West Side Video Theatrical MIDDLE vs. Twilight Time (theatrical) BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

Description: James Caan and Robert Duvall give fine performances as professional assassins working for a secret government agency in a suspense drama directed by Sam Peckinpah. Though flawed and lapsing into melodrama at times, the film raises questions of undercover agencies. Some brutal violence.

Excerpt from USCBlocated HERE

 

The Film:

After a brilliantly cryptic opening, The Killer Elite settles into Peckinpah's most apparently straightforward action film since The Getaway. Built around the internal politics of a San Francisco company which sidelines in dirty work that even the CIA won't touch, it concentrates on the painful recovery of an agent (Caan), wounded in knee and elbow in a double-cross, and his search for revenge. During Caan's lengthy recuperation, Peckinpah contemplates the old themes of betrayal, trust and humiliation. And through the action of the second half, Caan (like other Peckinpah heroes) comes to some sort of understanding. The set pieces (a Chinatown shoot-out, a dockland siege, the superb ships' graveyard climax) are excellent, as are so many secondary scenes. There are echoes here of Point Blank, and behind the deceits and manipulations both are essentially simple films. Unmistakable Peckinpah - not a masterpiece, but enough to be going on with.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

The theme is the world as universal sell-out. The metaphor is a covert intelligence organization that does malignant things ostensibly in a good cause. The protagonist is an individual who unwittingly falls afoul of one of the organization's plans, becomes its target and ultimately, after all kinds of mayhem, discovers its ends are as amoral as its methods, and walks out.

James Caan plays the role Robert Redford had in "Three Days." Since he is a better actor than Mr. Redford—sharper, more urgent—he is more convincing. Since Mr. Peckinpah is more talented than Sidney Pollack, who did "
Three Days," his film has moments, at least, of greater brilliance.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

Peckinpah's The Killer Elite has been transferred to Blu-ray by Wild Side Video in France. For many, the most important news is that the French subtitles are NOT forced when choosing the English audio track. Obviously, I can't speak for all machines but this was the case on both my Oppo Blu-ray players by using the 'subtitle' menu button.  Secondly, there are two versions here (non-seamlessly-branched) on this French Blu-ray. I would guess the French had, for years, a 'cut version (perhaps to maintain PG rating?) - at about 7.5-minutes shorter than the US theatrical cut. This longer cut is now available here on the Blu-ray. The image quality is 1080P on both the transfers with a slight technical advantage to the shorter 'Cut' version.  It looks quite good - especially as compared to the non-anamorphic 1999 DVD. The BD is darker and colors are certainly more true. Contrast exhibits healthy black levels. Daylight scenes are very bright. This Blu-ray has a nice realistic feel with no black-marks. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film The Killer Elite and the 1080P transfer provide a solid presentation.

 

The Twilight Time only has the, longer, theatrical version and is marginally more robust. Generally it looks quite similar - a bit brighter - perhaps a tad more information in the frame. In general - a strong appearance.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC' TOP

2) Wild Side - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC' TOP

2) Wild Side - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC' TOP

2) Wild Side - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Wild Side - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is transferred (for both versions) via a DTS-HD Master mono track at 936 kbps. There is also a French DUB. The lossless original 1.0 channel sounds fairly unremarkable - flat but clear and tight. Sam Peckinpah and composer Jerry Fielding collaborated on 5 films including The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and The Getaway. His score here has a jazz leaning and suits the film very well if less memorable than some of his other efforts. There are optional French subtitles (as we can confirm - even when the English tracks are chosen!) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Twilight Time use a DTS-HD Master mono track and my ears can find no difference with the Wild Side. They also add Fielding's jazzy score as an isolated option. There are optional English subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray - limited to 3,000 copies (so best to act sooner rather than later if interested).

 

 

 

Extras :

Wild Side have included a 1/2 hour excerpt from Mike Siegel's excellent Passion and Poetry documentary on Sam Peckinpah (reviewed by DVDBeaver HERE.) There are sections that focus on Peckinpah's The Killer Elite. It's very well made and we still recommend the full 2-hour documentary. There are also a Trailer, TV and Radio Spots and some Promotional Material (posters, title cards etc.) in a slideshow.

 

Bravo for the audio commentary with film historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, and Nick Redman discussing details of Peckinpah and the production. Twilight Time further advance upon the Euro edition adding Noon Wine (1966), the Sam Peckinpah-directed television version of Katherine Anne Porter’s novella, starring Jason Robards, Olivia de Havilland, and Theodore Bikel, available here for the first time on home video - with optional commentary (same participants as the feature). It runs just shy of 52-minutes. Repeated from the Region 'B' Blu-ray is the a 1/2 hour excerpt from Mike Siegel's excellent Passion and Poetry documentary on Sam Peckinpah (reviewed by DVDBeaver HERE. and Promoting The Killer Elite slideshow of posters etc. as well as Trailer, TV and Radio Spots. Twilight Time add, their usual Isolated Score Track.

 

Wild Side - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I got a lot more out of this film watching it in HD than the older single-layered DVD. I'd say I enjoyed about 3/4 of The Killer Elite. I was indifferent to the use of Ninjas in the story but I still could distinguish the Peckinpah style... and violent finale. James Caan is great - ditto for the chemistry with he, Bo Hopkins and Burt Young. This is infinitely superior to the old DVD and a film I appreciate having on Blu-ray. I will revisit this film - recommended!

 

There remains a lot of appeal here - but again I had issue with the Ninjas. The Twilight Time is the easy winner with the commentary and Noon Wine addition. 

Gary Tooze

January 17th, 2014

October 2nd, 2014

 

 

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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