Sunday, October 28, 2012

Driven to Kill (2009) / Supercop (1992) / Bravo Two Zero (1999)

Movie: 3.5/5
Video: 4/5
Audio: 3/5
Extras: 1/5
Overall: 3/5

"Supercop is Finally in it's Original Aspect Ratio!"

Movies: 3.5/5
Driven to Kill (2009):

I have not had the pleasure of seeing much of these straight to video Steven Seagal films that he's been cranking out these past ten years or so. I was genuinely interested in seeing Against the Dark and felt that it was an average Vampire (or Zombie) film. This film, Driven to Kill, was initially released by 20th Century Fox in 2009 and has somehow made it's way into Echo Bridge's hands. I haven't seen the original Fox release and I don't really plan on seeking it out, but Echo Bridge is credited in the opening titles. So, I don't know if they were behind this film from the beginning or what.

Steven Seagal is Ruslan, a Russian gangster who is flying from California to New York to attend his daughter's wedding. Once there, Ruslan, meets his soon to be son-in-law and discovers that he's a wanna-be Russian mobster. Ruslan confronts him and he spills the beans that his father wants him to stay in the family business. Ruslan leaves to get ready for the wedding and then all hell breaks loose. Ruslan's ex-wife is murdered and his daughter is now in a coma. Ruslan seeks out the people who are responsible and will make them pay.

This film is all over the place and the acting is bad. Steven Seagal and most of the other actors are dubbed and the dubbing job is horrendous. In some scenes, it does sound like Seagal, but he is just bumbling and you can barely understand anything that comes out of his mouth. In the opening scene where Ruslan is talking to some bimbo, you can barely understand what he is saying. If this was me, I would have gone back and reshot this. I know that Seagal works his butt off and cranks these movies out, but seriously, you got have some integrity on these. But, overall, if you got time to kill; I'd give it a shot. 2.5/5.

Supercop (1992):
This is my fourth copy of Supercop and third review of it. I need to finish my review on the High-Powered Action Pack. To get my views on Supercop, please visit my review for it's individual release. 5/5.

Bravo Two Zero (1999):
Sean Bean is Andy, a British soldier behind enemy lines and is a P.O.W. in Bravo Two Zero. Based on the brutal true story where a group of British soldiers are sent in to stop SCUD missiles. After they're spotted by child herding sheep, Andy his other seven comrades are running for their lives from the Iraqi forces. After Andy is captured, he is put to the test of not spilling the beans of the mission and pays greatly for his country.

The film moves slowly in the first forty-five minutes. But it picks up once they are on the run from the Iraqi troops. I was pretty much hooked after that. I think it's two hour run time is a bit too long, like I said, it was slow for almost an hour. I give the film a 3.5/5.

Video: 4/5
The video presentation on Driven to Kill is a decent one. I have not seen the Fox Blu-ray, but saw screen captures of it. I am not sure this is the same transfer or not. It is pretty good. Presented in 1.85:1 in 1080p with an AVC encode. Bitrate is pretty high and there's a nice layer of grain present. I have no real complaints with the video on this. It's not that bad, but it's a little far from perfection. 4/5.

The video presentation for Supercop is magnificent! Third time was the charm for Equilibrium; fourth time is the charm for Supercop! Presented in AVC and 1080p with it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Let's give Filmyard Holdings and Echo Bridge a hand here for this presentation. Oddly, it seems to come from Italy as an Italian language title card pops up at the end of the film after the blooper-credits. The film has print damage and the right side gets a tad blurry here and there, but it's nothing major. While looking over it on my PS3, the Mbps is right around the low to mid-20's in terms of video bitrate. It is a nice and beautiful presentation. While it isn't perfect, I award Supercop a nice 4/5.

Bravo Two Zero will never look good in HD. A lot of the stock footage of the Gulf War is sourced from very poor quality VHS tapes. The interlacing on those transferred tapes is pretty God-awful. The footage that was actually shot by the director and crew is decent but probably filmed with low end film stock. I haven't had a chance to compare this copy of Bravo Two Zero with the double feature that has Men of War. It does get pretty rough in a few minutes during the last twenty minutes of the film when the men are in the Military Prison in Baghdad. I give the video for this film a 3/5.

Audio: 3/5
The audio on all three films is Dolby Digital 2.0. Yes, that is correct; no DTS-HD MA like most of their other releases, this time we get the old school DD2.0 audio. The audio on Driven to Kill is pretty good for a 2.0 track. We can clearly hear the sounds of gun cartridges being swapped out and explosions sounds good. It's not perfect, but I am guessing this is what the director had done in post as there's some scenes where you can barely hear Seagal's mumbling. I award a 3.5/5 for the audio on Driven to Kill.

With the audio on Supercop, it is a bummer. We have been downgraded from the DTS-HD MA 2.0 that we had on the initial Supercop and double feature release with Twin Dragons; then with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 on the High-Powered Action Pack, then harshly downgraded to Dolby Digital 2.0! That's rough, we finally get it in the original aspect ratio. The audio is bit low in first few minutes of the film. However, it does seem to pick up when they break Panther out of prison. I give the audio a 3/5, it's a little more than average for a twenty year old film.

Finally in our final film on this disc, the audio presentation of Bravo Two Zero is tame. I found myself having to turn up the audio on my television a few time to hear what was being said. Like the two previous films, Echo Bridge has given us just Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Considering this a war film, we could hear things like tanks running around the desert pretty good, but just some of the dialogue was real low. I give the audio a 2.5/5.

Extas: 1/5
While most might not consider this an extra, we get a DVD triple feature packaged with this Blu-ray. It's a Jackie Chan triple feature containing Dragon Lord, Project A, and Project A 2. While I award this only a 1 out of 5 stars; it would be nice if this was a Blu-ray instead of a DVD. We all ready have Project A and Project A 2 on Blu-ray from Echo Bridge. DVD does not mean anything to me anymore, but I don't want to give this a straight zero stars, I'll give it a 1/5.

Overall: 3/5
Considering I got this for $7.99 + tax at Best Buy, I can recommend it at least for Supercop since it's finally available in it's original aspect ratio. Not too big on the fact that they threw in a bonus DVD of Jackie Chan films since, you know, this is Blu-ray that we're talking about here. Bravo Two Zero, I can recommend because of Sean Bean. We all love Sean Bean. What's not to love about Sean Bean? And well, Driven to Kill is ok if you want to see a crappy straight to video Steven Seagal film. I give this Blu-ray release a 3/5.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Crow: City of Angels (1996) & The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005)

Movie: 2.5/5
Video: 4/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 2/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Lionsgate Has the First and Third Entries of "The Crow".

"The Crow: City of Angels" (1996)

I have reviewed the original Blu-ray release in 2011 when it was part of the initial roll out of Miramax titles at Echo Bridge. I gave that Blu-ray an overall 2.5/5; it contained a 1080i video presentation along with DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio and no bonus material at all. How does The Crow: City of Angels compare in this double feature? Well, it is the 91 minute "Director's Cut" of the film.

The story centers around father who, along with his child, is killed by a gang of drug dealers. A year later, he is brought back to life by a crow to take revenge upon the people who wronged him. The film is a true sequel to first film as the character Sara, played by Mia Kirshner, is back guiding Ashe on his journey of revenge. In my opinion, I prefer The Crow: City of Angels over the first film with Brandon Lee; the whole coming back premise seems to work better with a father than a boyfriend avenging the death of his soon to be wife. The film is not perfect at all and the only thing that helps this is the casting. Vincent Perez as the lead and Iggy Bop and an unknown Thomas Jane as some of the villains made for a fun ninety minutes of time. Movie gets a 4/5.

Video: 4/5
After going back and forth and checking both discs, the director's cut on this disc is presented in 1.85:1 MPEG-4 AVC in 1080p; whereas the "theatrical cut" release was 1080i. These two transfers are night and day, however this new transfer is not perfect, it's far from it. While playing the original on my PS3, I noticed how rough the playback was compared to the new release. Even though this new transfer is 1080p, there is three instances of interlacing that I caught. Some slight spoliers, a flashback scene has one second at the 19 minute mart. Towards the end when the birds are flying around Ashe. And then once more when Ashe says he's going to "A better place." Other than that, the print is riddled with print damage, but it's not that bad. This is the best it will get until there is a full blown frame by frame restoration. Do I feel that I am being generous with this rating? Yes; considering the last release, this is much better. 4/5.

Audio: 5/5
Presented on this disc is two audio tracks; 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA. There's no real complaints on the audio. Why they decided to put a 2.0 track along with the 5.1 makes no real sense to me. It's unwanted space hogging data. But, hearing the SFX and cawing of the crows, it's really good. 5/5.

Extras: 2.5/5
Echo Bridge is starting to venture out into putting more extras on their Miramax releases. However, they put a piece of bonus material on the disc for the wrong film. There is a twenty minute interview with Brandon Lee. If this were the first film, I wouldn't have a problem with this. Then finally, a seven minute featurette with screenwriter David Goyer discussing how they tackled the sequel. Other people from the film pop up like Mia Kirshner and Tim Pope. I give the extras a 2.5/5.

Overall: 4/5
Echo Bridge should have gave us this the first time around. It seems it's more trial and error than just quality control. Now, it would have been nice if they put both the 86 minute theatrical cut and the 91 minute director's cut on the initial disc, in 1080p. If you want to get The Crow: City of Angels, this double feature is the copy to get. I paid $10 online for my copy; I know Wal-Mart had copies of this for $5 and sadly the Wal-Mart in my area never freakin' carries new releases. I give this portion of the disc a 4/5.

"The Crow: Wicked Prayer" (2005)

This film is a farce. Mostly whenever a series hits the fourth entry, it's downhill. Seeing a film with a cast like this, you can't possibly think this is going to be a bad film. We have Danny Trejo, Dennis Hopper, and David Boreanaz; on top of that Tito Ortiz, Tara Reid, and Edward Furlung as the hero! There are so many other actors who could have possibly played this lead; hell David Boreanaz should have been the lead. That would have been a much interesting take on the character, but, no. We have this abomination that's kinda like The Crow: Salvation which is essentially just a remake of the first film starring Brandon Lee. Seriously, boyfriend and girlfriend die and boyfriend is brought back to life to seek revenge. That's it. Except, this time, we have the four losers of the apocalypse who think that they can bring hell on Earth.

The acting is atrocious; who honestly thought that this line up of "actors" like Tito Ortiz and Edward Furlung would make a good combination? Edward Furlung looks like an emo teenage girl who went shopping at a Hot Topic; that whole get up screams Hot Topic. I hope people got fired over this film, I know it's wrong, but have you seen this film? It makes me angry just thinking about who honestly thought this was a good idea to make. Film scores a .5/5.

Video: 4/5
Echo Bridge has given The Crow: Wicked Prayer almost a perfect transfer. It's always strange to see a bad film get a good transfer. Presented in 1.78 with an MPEG4 AVC transfer; there is print damage here and there and a shot or two that look a little too soft. But, upon watching the commentary, some of these soft looking shots were explained, so I cannot really point that out as Echo Bridge's fault. Grain is mostly present throughout. Other than what I mentioned, there's no real complaints; video gets a 4/5.

Audio: 5/5
The film has two audio tracks present; a DTS-HD MA 2.0 & 5.1 tracks. Upon sampling the two tracks, the 2.0 track sounds loud. Voices and effects have a boost to them and the 5.1 track sounds weak in comparison. I don't know why that is. Usually the 5.1 is the track of choice, but if you watch this, give it a spin in the DTS-HD MA 2.0. Audio gets a 5/5.

Extras: 1/5
The extra features in this portion of the disc contains two deleted scenes; a discussion called "El Pinto"; watching the composer work in "Jaime's Attic"; and finally a commentary track. Commentary is nothing but ramblings and pointing out faults; again, this whole film is a farce! The extras are lame for a farce of a film like this. If this was like the second film and it had bonus material like this, I wouldn't find it to be so bad. None of this is worth your time. Extras score a 1/5.

Overall: 2.5/5
A bad film gets a good transfer. That seems to be all the rage these days. With this and Piranha 3DD, I don't get it. It's also a shame that Echo Bridge didn't get the rights to the third film, The Crow: Salvation. The whole Lionsgate taking first grabs at titles; they picked some of the crappy-girly romance stuff like Bridget Jones and the Mimic sequels over From Dusk Till Dawn; Hellraiser; and Halloween films. They take The Crow and The Crow: Salvation yet say; "Screw the second film, we want the first and third!" And now this is the result of that choice; City of Angels on a double feature Blu-ray with Wicked Prayer.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Rounding up the initial votes:

Film: 4 + .5 = 4.5/2 = 2.25. I'll round to 2.5/5.
Video: 4/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 2.5 + 1 = 3.5/2 = 1.75. I'll round that to 2/5.

Those added up and divided equals 3.375/5 which I will round to 3.5. If you don't own the initial release of The Crow: City of Angels, this is the copy to get. The Crow: Wicked Prayer is a POS film and is honestly not worth your time viewing. Despite that, I felt like this was $10 well spent. 3.5/5.