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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The McKenzie Break [Blu-ray]


(Lamont Johnson, 1970)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Levy-Gardner-Laven

Video: Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 1:46:39.017

Disc Size: 23,334,771,672 bytes

Feature Size: 22,530,643,968 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.91 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 15th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1730 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1730 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English, None



• Original Theatrical Trailer (3:27)





Description: Brian Keith (Violent Road) leads an acclaimed international cast in this poignant and powerful WWII thriller fraught with action, suspense and the haunting reality of war. Keith stars as Captain Jack Connor, a fast-talking, hard-drinking, tough-as-nails Irishman assigned to investigate an impending escape by a group of German POWs led by the charismatic Kapitšn Schleutter (Helmut Griem, The Damned). The camp commander (Ian Hendry, Get Carter) has been unable to contain the prisoners, but Connor's brash and unusual approach solves the problem...for a while. In a race against time and with growing animosity from the commander - Connor surpasses even his own previous unorthodox methods when he devises a scheme so daring that it will either make him a hero... or prove to be the most fatal mistake of his career. Stylishly directed by Lamont Johnson (Kona Coast) with a beautifully written screenplay by William W. Norton (White Lightning, Gator) based on a book by Sir Sidney Shelley.



The Film:

Rare reversal of the PoW camp formula, with Germans the potential escapees from a Scottish internment. Keith and Hendry do ideological battle with fanatical Nazi Griem, who is willing to sacrifice half his less politicised men to cover his planned breakout. Elaborated with unusual care for authenticity, it's tautly handled by Johnson (better known for abrasive telemovies), and adapted from Sidney Shelley's novel by William Norton (father of Convoy adaptor and More American Graffiti director BWL Norton).

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


The McKenzie Break is an unusual POW escape drama in that the would-be escapees are German prisoners, held in a Scottish camp. When a Luftwaffe pilot is murdered in the compound, British major Ian Hendrey investigates. He suspects that the killing is tied in with a complex escape plan, engineered by German commander Helmut Griem. Before the inevitable break, the prisoners form into the sort of separate factions and pressure groups that fomented the Nazi upheaval in Germany in the first place. Based on a novel by Sidney Shelley, The McKenzie Break was actually filmed in Ireland rather than Scotland.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

A, kind of, lesser-seen war gem, The McKenzie Break, has made it to Blu-ray via Kino Lorber. The image favors grittiness over crispness with some thick textures consistent throughout the presentation. The transfer is single-layered with a decent bitrate and I suspect the appearance is more a function of the film's original production than the 1080P rendering. Close-ups can show some HD detail but generally the film is fairly flat with only a few instances of depth. The thickness is film-like and only a few times do colors show some richness. It is transferred in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with letterboxing for the opening credits. This Blu-ray video is not exceptional in any way, but provided me an acceptable, fairly clean (very minor speckles) way to enjoy this war thriller.




White optional subtitles for English dialogue



Non-removable yellow subtitles for German dialogue















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1730 kbps handles the war effects - plane and truck engines etc., - and various instances of depth and aggression. The score by Riz Ortolani (Day of Anger, Il Sorpasso, Woman Times Seven, Cannibal Holocaust, The Voyeur, Mondo Cane) with metronomic bass plus a smattering of Beethoven - sounds excellent without flaws of any kind. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Only a beat-up trailer. I think the film has enough value to have warranted some discussion or even a commentary - but it is, essentially, bare-bones.



Highly entertaining PoW drama with a keen 'cat and mouse' game between Brian Keith's Capt. Jack Connor and Helmut Griem's Willi Schlueter characters. I found a high level of realism and some thrilling action and drama. Damn good film with an excellent finale - especially if you are keen on the 'prisoner escape' genre. The Kino Lorber Blu-ray is, typically, bare-bones but provided a consistent presentation. I was just pleased to see the film. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 15th, 2015


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)

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Gary W. Tooze






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