Safe (Blu-ray) (2012)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Sep-2012

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-x 3 for other films
System Test-DTS-HD MA sound check
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 94:14
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Boaz Yakin
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Jason Statham
Catherine Chan
Robert John Burke
James Hong
Anson Mount
Chris Sarandon
Sándor Técsy
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Mark Mothersbaugh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Luke (Jason Statham) was a policemen but was drummed out of the force by trying to expose corruption. Now he makes his living, such as it is, as a cage fighter. When he wins a fight he is supposed to lose he costs Russian mafia boss Emile (Sandor Tecsy) a lot of money. So Emile sends his son Vassily (Joseph Sikora) and some goons after Luke. They kill Luke’s wife, but rather than killing Luke tell him that they will watch him and kill anyone he befriends until Luke has had enough and commits suicide.

     Mei (Catherine Chan) is a child with a prodigious memory for numbers. Triad boss Jiao Han (James Hong) is old fashioned; he does not trust computers so Mei is abducted from school and sent with Chang Quan (Reggie Lee) to New York to help their businesses there by remembering all the financial transactions so nothing has to be written down. Mei is asked to remember a string of numbers as part of a special exchange deal Han has arranged, but on the way to the exchange the Chinese are ambushed by the Russians and Mei taken. The Chinese enlist the help of corrupt police led by Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke) to get her back; they surround the Russians and in the confusion Mei escapes.

     Luke is in a subway station contemplating jumping under a train until he sees Mei being pursued by some Russians he recognises as Emile’s men. Luke saves Mei and the pair goes into hiding sought by the Triads, the Russians and the police. Mei tells Luke the numbers; it seems they are the combination to a safe containing $3m, although the money is only one part of the exchange. When Mei is recaptured by the Triads, the three way war between the Russians, the Triads and the corrupt police suddenly gets another player when Luke joins in. And he will not stop until Mei is safe.

     Safe is an adrenaline rush of a film with enough action to keep anyone happy. There are car crashes, explosions, hand to hand combat and gunfights with, as the advertising states “one of the highest body counts of any movie”, although I think that this is something John Woo his prime may have challenged. The fights are indeed frenetic, filmed with constantly moving hand held cameras which works fine in these action sequences giving a sense of the brutality and chaos. For example, in the Russian ambush of the Triads the camera is inside the Chinese car; there is a glimpse of another car before the Chinese car is rammed, and the gunfire starts. But unlike Woo’s films, there is nothing balletic about the gunfights; instead they are short, sharp, confused, loud and deadly, with the camera constantly switching perspective. Yet while the body count is indeed high, this is not a gruesome film; there is blood, but it is not excessive and there is none of the arterial blood and severed limbs that some action films deem necessary.

     To my mind, however, the constantly moving camera is overdone in non-action sequences and in some of the dialogue scenes it becomes distracting; too much of a good thing, perhaps, from writer / director Boaz Yakin. He has not been prolific as a director, being best known for the Denzel Washington vehicle Remember the Titans (2000). Indeed, Yakin has more writing than directing credits on his CV although it must be said that some of the dialogue in Safe is rather poor, with “been in restaurants all night and all I got served was lead” being a typical example.

     The film is helped, however, by Jason Statham who does everything that is required. He can be vulnerable and caring, and then quick and deadly in action. Newcomer Catherine Chan is also very good. She is scared, confused yet knowing, sometimes at the same time, and it is good to see veteran actor James Hong (whose numerous credits include Blade Runner (1982) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986) having fun as the Triad boss.

     If you like your action films to be at full throttle, Safe delivers. It is a well-made film with frenetic, full on action sequences but the film does have a heart and is helped by good performances by Jason Statham and Catherine Chan. Certainly Safe is worth your time.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Safe is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original ratio being 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The film has excellent detail in close-ups and still scenes, although the sharpness is lost in the action sequences amongst the constantly swaying hand held camera work. Colours are natural although skin tones do look slightly brownish. Blacks are excellent, but again shadow detail is affected by the moving cameras. Brightness and contrast are consistent. The film has pleasing grain, and minor ghosting with motion against vertical surfaces (see 4:51) but otherwise artefacts are absent.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English DTS-MA HD 5.1 track that is very good.

     Dialogue is mostly clear, and on the occasions when it wasn’t there are the subtitles. The surrounds are constantly in action with music, ambient sound, and crowd noises. The crashes are loud and have a nice impact, the gunfire distributed around the speakers. The sub-woofer added effective bass to action and to the music without ever unbalancing the sound stage. This is a nice enveloping audio track where the sounds have good depth and separation.

     The main score by Mark Mothersbaugh was supported by other music from the likes of Dror Mohar, Cheng Yu as well as Beethoven. It was appropriate to the film, and supporting the visuals without drawing attention to itself.

     Lip synchronisation has fine except for James Hong when he was required to speak Chinese. Born in the US, is probably not a Mandarin speaker so had to be dubbed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The following trailers play on start-up and must be skipped. They cannot be selected from the menu: Get the Gringo (2:16), Silent House (2:26) and Hari-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2:30).

DTS-HD MA sound check

     Do a sound check of your speakers – 5.1 and 7.1 options.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    We get none of the extras available in Region A.

     The Region A US release of Safe has an audio commentary by writer / director Boaz Yakin, three featurettes (running 11:40, 8:00 and 10:16) and DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio. That makes Region A the clear winner.

Summary

     Safe is a hugely entertaining adrenaline rush of a film with excellent performances, car crashes, explosions, hand to hand combat and gunfights.

     The video and audio are very good. Unfortunately the extras available in Region A have been stolen from our release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE