Operation Dumbo Drop

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 103:44 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (57:16)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Simon Wincer

Warner Home Video
Starring Danny Glover
Ray Liotta
Denis Leary
Doug E. Doug
Corin Nemec
RRP $34.95 Music David Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I suppose that it is inevitable that only Di$ney could make a comedy based upon the Vietnam War and get away with it. The fact that it is inspired by a true story then begs many, many "questions" about military intelligence that are perhaps better not given a run here! And as a result we get the usual Di$ney treatment, meaning we get a typical Di$ney family fodder film that is about as obvious as it gets, not too far into the story. Still, as long as we keep forking out our hard earned dollars to watch the films and buy the DVDs, you can bet the Di$ney company will continue to churn out the likes of this film. As long as it keeps the dollars ticking over, the Di$ney company will be there to rake them in. But then again, as long as they churn out these 100 minute long brain-resting efforts, why shouldn't we keep enjoying them?

    This starts out with a rather by-the-book Captain Doyle (Ray Liotta), heading up into the mountains to take up a new posting in relief of Captain Sam Cahill (Danny Glover) in a strategic village near the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Unfortunately, by-the-book does not work up in the mountains, as Doyle soon finds out when the village elephant is killed by North Vietnamese troops during a harassment raid. Cahill, having been in the village a while, realizes the importance of the elephant to the village and to save face with the villagers promises the village head that they will have a replacement elephant by an important festival at the end of the week. Cue the fun and games. Cahill and Doyle head to base to convince their superior of the necessity of obtaining a replacement elephant - well at least Cahill does. Armed with orders they head off to collect two unlikely suspects to assist the operation in the form of Harvey Ashford (Doug E. Doug), waiting out his last week in 'Nam as safely as possible, and Lawrence Farley (Corin Nemec), a boob of a clerk, before engaging the services of a slightly non-regulation requisition officer in David Poole (Denis Leary) to locate an elephant. Heading into the wilds of Vietnam to obtain the said elephant, our unlikely bunch then have three days or so to get the elephant (and young handler) to the village, with the North Vietnamese Army dogging their every track. But this is Di$ney, so we know that all this is achieved, no matter how impossibly, and with no swearing or smoking or anything else nasty to boot. You weren't expecting anything else from Di$ney were you?

    Operation Dumbo Drop may be inspired by a true story, but one has to take a lot of what is in this story with a pinch of salt. You definitely need to suspend all credulity whilst watching this effort: I mean an elephant being parachuted out of a C-123 cargo plane leaves little in the way of believability available. And some day someone will explain to me Danny Glover's penchant for scripts where he is the sidekick of a comedy - at least in the Lethal Weapon series he is sidekick to Mel Gibson, whereas here he is sidekick to a fully grown elephant called Bo Tat (Tai). Which is not to suggest that he does not carry off these serious sidekick roles with a deal of aplomb - which is precisely what he does here. Perhaps Ray Liotta took the whole thing a little too seriously, but was nonetheless effective as the by-the-book Green Beret. The rest of the cast were suitably supportive in their respective roles. With some wonderful Thai countryside as the backdrop to much of the action, this is actually an enjoyable enough romp as long as the brain is switched off.

Transfer Quality


    Well, another one of the finer efforts that Di$ney have committed to a Region 4 DVD.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is quite a gorgeous transfer, beautifully sharp throughout (apart from a couple of minor and inexcusable lapses in focus) and with some very nice definition. There is a very nice depth to the transfer, which is very clear throughout. Shadow detail is very good in general. There is no problem with low level noise in the transfer. One question that I have never raised is the question of why anamorphically enhanced transfers of anamorphic cinematography seem to make such gorgeous transfers? This is another example of it.

    The colours come up most vibrantly indeed, with a very convincing rendering of the jungle colours in particular. Nothing overly garish but very natural. There is no hint of oversaturation at all in the transfer. There was just the odd lapse in contrast on a couple of occasions where the continuity of the colours seemed a little jarring, but nothing that would upset too many.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Unfortunately, film-to-video artefacts were a little bit of a problem, mainly in the form of very minor aliasing and shimmer, but nothing too distracting at all. Film artefacts were a little more prevalent during the film than I was expecting, with some quite noticeable scratches - these were just a little distracting to the film.

   This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 57:16. The layer change is a little noticeable and is just a little disruptive to the film, although far more preferable than a flipper format.


   Added to the very nice video transfer is a nice audio transfer.

   There are three audio tracks on the DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. I listened to the English default.

   The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

   There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

   The musical score comes from David Newman, and is a nicely complementary score too, albeit a little clichéd.

   This is a very nicely balanced soundtrack, with the rear channels providing some very nice, if not overt, detail in the mix. There is some nice front to rear separation with the helicopter and airplane sequences. The overall soundscape is very convincing, and is nicely encompassing with the viewer feeling part of the action. The bass channel gets some nice work, although not overly aggressive. It is not an audio demonstration by any means but is another nice example of a well mixed 5.1 soundtrack.


    Di$ney still means nothing at all again.


R4 vs R1

    As far as I am able to determine, this film has yet to make an appearance in Region 1.


    Operation Dumbo Drop is not a great film, but certainly has its moments and overall is an entertaining enough way of passing a couple of hours. Whether it will hold up as well with repeated viewings has yet to be determined, but I would recommend this to anyone with some kids to keep amused.

    A very good video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    Di$ney - so no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
28th December 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL