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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Rocket [Blu-ray]


(Kim Mordaunt, 2013)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Red Lamp Films

Video: Eureka



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

Runtime: 1:35:37.041

Disc Size: 33,073,195,684 bytes

Feature Size: 29,532,976,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: June 30th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Lao 1813 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1813 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



Director Commentary with Kim Mordaunt

The Making of (19:42)

Original UK Theatrical Trailer (2:25)





Description: Laos: A ten year old boy, Ahlo, who is believed to bring bad luck, is blamed for a string of disasters. When his family loses their home and are forced to move, Ahlo meets the spirited orphan Kia and her eccentric uncle Purple: an ex-soldier with a purple suit, a rice-wine habit and a fetish for James Brown. Struggling to hang on to his father s trust, Ahlo leads his family, Purple and Kia through a land scarred by war in search of a new home. In a last plea to try and prove he s not cursed, Ahlo builds a giant explosive rocket to enter the most lucrative but dangerous competition of the year: the Rocket Festival. As the most bombed country in the world shoots back at the sky, a boy will reach to the heavens for forgiveness.

Gripping yet heart-warming, The Rocket is a deeply personal story about the determination of a boy who has the odds stacked against him, set against the epic backdrop of a war-ravaged country on the brink of huge change. With remarkable access to real rituals and festivities in the stunning mountains of Laos, The Rocket is a unique view into a world never seen on film before.

Written and directed by Kim Mordaunt ( Bomb Harvest), The Rocket features an extraordinary leading performance from gutsy former street kid Sitthiphon Disamoe as Ahlo, and veteran actor and comedian Thep Phongam as the damaged but humorous Purple, an ex-soldier who becomes mentor to the young protagonist.



The Film:

A 10-year-old boy from rural Laos strives prove to his family that he isn't cursed by building the rocket that will win him a major competition in this feature from first-time writer, director, and producer Kim Mordaunt. Ahlo is a young boy with some serious baggage; from as long as he can remember his family has claimed he was cursed. Fleeing into rural Laos with his father and grandmother as their village is emptied out to make way for a new dam, the trio happens across a rocket contest that captivates young Ahlo's imagination. Before long Ahlo's new friend Kia and her odd-ball uncle - a James Brown fanatic - are helping the young boy to build his very own rocket. But this competition has an air of danger, and as Ahlo prepares for the big day, the risk only seems to grow.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The spirit of childhood skips and giggles through The Rocket even though Kim Mordaunt's debut fiction feature touches on deeply disturbing humanitarian issues, including population displacement and the constant threat of undetonated bombs for those living in modern, post-war Laos.

The mood of cheerful and irrepressible defiance is embodied by Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), whose easy smile puts the sun in the shade. We meet him as he enters the world and watch how his grandmother (Bunsri Yindi) moves from jubilation to horror when she realises he is a twin - considered by their tribe to lead to one child being blessed and the other cursed. His mother Mali (Alice Keohavong), displaying an obstinacy that will pass to her son, insists that because the other baby is dead "I haven't had twins" and refuses to snuff out his life.

Excerpt from Eye For Film located HERE

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

The Rocket gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Eureka.  This is a dual-layered transfer with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. I believe this was shot on HD and is filled with interesting and crisp looking visuals. Colors are tighter and truer than SD could relate and there is no noise in the darker sequences later in the film. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some minor depth in the 2.35:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray does a great job of presenting the film's video. The HD rendering, combined with the excellent cinematography, is nothing short of impressive.




















Audio :

Eureka utilize a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1813 kbps which supports the film without any issues. Effects seem limited existing on the realism - even the rocket sounds are authentic without augmentation. The score is by Caitlin Yeo - an Australian musician whose compositions have been featured in many documentaries. Some of it initially struck me as too modern and out of place - but after a few minutes seems to work pleasingly within the narrative. The film is on the Lao language and offers optional English subtitles. My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Eureka include a revealing director commentary from Kim Mordaunt. His extensive work as both a director and cinematographer in documentaries helped develop his vérité style. The commentary gives emphasis to the production details reflecting back to the story creation. Quite worth the listen. There is also an Insight on the Making of... lasting almost 20-minutes with the director and more plus the original UK theatrical trailer.



The Rocket is quite an excellent film playing off ethnic-poverty realism, brilliantly sentimental performances and a tinge of political earthiness with the threat of a dark, ever present, overhang (mostly through the visual). It works very well with high credit to director Mordaunt. To cap it off - The Rocket is a beautifully shot film and the Eureka Blu-ray does an exceptional job in exporting the striking scenery. This is a very easy recommendation. We have a brilliant piece of world cinema in a great 1080P package with director commentary - it is very strongly endorsed! 

Gary Tooze

June 16th, 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
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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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