Broken Arrow

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 103:57 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (65:56)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director John Woo

Fox Home Video
Starring John Travolta
Christian Slater
Samantha Mathis
RRP $39.95 Music Hans Zimmer

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes, and annoying.
Subtitles Czech
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

   John Travolta fans rejoice, for your time is at hand. He has made no fewer than 12 movies since Broken Arrow was released, and he doesn't look like running out of steam yet. His character in this movie is quite similar to the part he played in Face/Off, and is one I am not fond of. It lends him to extreme overacting, excessive teeth displaying and a most annoying habit of blowing smoke in people's faces. Yep, you guessed it, I am not a John Travolta fan. I enjoyed his performance in Saturday Night Fever, and have not really cared for him since! It must be said, however, that my wife strongly disagrees with me and thinks that every movie he is in is wonderful. Oh well.

    The plot really doesn't matter in this movie, for it takes a back seat (of a very, very long bus), to the action. Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are U.S. Air Force pilots flying a test mission which for some inadequately explained reason requires that the B3 stealth bomber they fly carry live nuclear weapons. We know, from this point on, that reality has left us to our own devices and we should just sit and stare, our jaws slightly agape if it helps. Vic Deakins then proceeds to steal the two weapons for terrorist activities, and Riley Hale, with the help of the lovely Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis) must foil his plans to destroy a city in return for a hefty ransom (place your pinkie to your lips and say the last few words in the voice of Dr Evil, and this is the level we are at). What ensues is the most absurdly over-the-top set of action sequences you are likely to see; and they are great fun! Stunts galore, a heavy and dynamic soundtrack and marvellous cinematography by Peter Levy, combined with flawless editing gives you an excuse to simply sit back and enjoy, as they say, the ride.

Transfer Quality


    All in all a pretty decent presentation, and it sits comfortably in the better class of video transfers.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is not particularly sharp, nor is it particularly soft. It falls in the middle ground, though detail is certainly abundant and at times stunning. Film grain is apparent for much, though not all, of the movie and it is sometimes slightly distracting. Where this transfer falls over is in shadow detail - there isn't any. The opening scenes in the bomber, the night scenes in the desert and the big-chiefs operations room are all rendered very darkly and quite a lot is simply lost in the shadows. In fact, the whole movie is on the dark side and I had to resist turning up the brightness, which wouldn't help anyway. Edge-enhancement is minimal to non-existent, which is always a good thing.

    The colour palette is a little oddly rendered, though it is still quite good. Blues and greens are vivid, though skin-tones are a tad rich. There is no chroma-noise, nor is their any bleeding or misregistration.

    The MPEG encoding was perfectly transparent, with no artefacts at all, and in this regard was very satisfying. There were no film artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts comprised of a little telecine wobble now and then, and the odd hint of aliasing which threatened to occur but never actually did, if you know what I mean(!)

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 65:56 during chapter 12. I must be honest and say that, on the first viewing, this layer-change made my heart skip a beat. It happens just before the nuclear weapon explodes, as the timer goes to "00:00", and as all my nerves were on edge given the build-up. It is a truly horrendous place to put the layer change, and was most off-putting!


    There is just the one English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on offer, and it is a cracker.

    Dialogue was at all times very well recorded, and with no lip-sync save for one scene with some badly looped breathing by the gorgeous Samantha Mathis in the train scene.

    The music is brilliant throughout the movie, being washy synthesizers and percussion. It had an open, airy feel to it, and given that I love electronic music this agreed with me no end. Whilst there is plenty of bottom end, and indeed top end to the sound, it seems to be missing a little in the middle section; it would be best described as being ever so slightly "thin" sounding. Given that all 5 channels are being used constantly, I put this down to a lower than optimum bit-budget to spread around. Don't get me wrong, I am just being very picky - this is a ripper of a soundtrack and will surely please.

    The use of the surround channels is as aggressive as I have heard, and is wonderful to behold. The surrounds are used all the time, and usually with as much energy as the mains. This has the effect of placing you in any given location, and at times I closed my eyes in order to fully appreciate it - it's that good.

    The sub had much to do, given the propensity of explosions as is the wont of John Woo!! Nice.



    A damnably good menu, with the stealth bomber flying through the screen when you make your selection from the main menu, accompanied by a suitable "swoosh!" and jet-stream. Very nice, and certainly easy to navigate given the lack of anything to actually navigate through...

Theatrical Trailer (2:34)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, this is a fairly average job, though its inclusion is as always most welcome.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;    It should go without saying that the R4 version is VASTLY superior in video quality than the non-16x9 R1 version. Ugggghhhh.


    An absolute "no thought allowed" movie which will entertain those who can suspend their disbelief from a 20-storey building in high wind using only a single strand of human hair. As ridiculous as it is, it is at least richly ridiculous, and is quite an enjoyable action movie.

    The video is very good indeed, though certainly not reference quality.

    The audio is more full-on than the video (if that were possible), and is exceptional in its detail and imagery.

    (cough) Ahem, there actually is an entry in the menu called "special features" (with an s on the end) which leads to the ..... theatrical trailer. That's it.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
7th February, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive