Special Forces (Forces speciales) (2011)

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Released 9-Jan-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 104:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stéphane Rybojad

Madman Entertainment
Starring Diane Kruger
Djimon Hounsou
Benoît Magimel
Denis Ménochet
Raphaël Personnaz
Alain Figlarz
Alain Alivon
Mehdi Nebbou
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI ? Music Xavier Berthelot

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, At the end

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

Plot Synopsis

     French war correspondent Else (Diane Kruger) is in Kabul filing stories about the treatment of women by the Taliban when she is abducted by Taliban leader Zaief (Raz Degan). She is taken to his mountain base in the tribal area of Pakistan and threatened with execution. With time running out the French Government despatches a six man Special Forces unit, led by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou), to rescue her. The rescue is successful, but communications failure and a pick-up zone overrun by Taliban fighters means that rescuers and rescued are forced to undertake a trek across the hostile, snow covered mountains towards Afghanistan, with Zaief and his fighters dogging their heels. Not all will make it out alive.

     Special Forces (Forces speciales) is an exciting, fast paced war film from France. The plot is not new, but the film makes up for this with good acting, impressive location photography and well executed action sequences. The film concentrates on the Special Forces team and although it gives little background information each of the men, including Tic-Tac (Benoit Magimel), Lucas (Denis Menochet) and the sniper Elias (Raphael Personnaz), are well enough differentiated to make their respective fates meaningful and poignant. Diane Kruger is also good as the woman reporter forced to find within herself reserves of courage and endurance, while Mehdi Nebbou is also good as her Afghan companion Amin. The landscape of rocky hillsides, deep valleys and high snowy mountains filmed in Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains (standing in for Pakistan) and the French Alps is spectacular, and beautifully captured by cinematographer David Jankowski. The action sequences involve a lot of the usual choppy editing and hand held cameras, but it is generally easy to see who is doing what. Special Forces also avoids CGI and colour manipulation in favour of sequences looking natural and done for real; the fact that the film was supported by the French military means that there is an impressive array of weaponry and hardware on show, including helicopters, vehicles, aircraft, and even an aircraft carrier.

     The focus upon the French forces in Afghanistan in Special Forces is new although generally there is little in the film that we have not seen before. However, Special Forces is entertaining and fast paced with good acting, impressive location photography and well executed action sequences and there are far worse ways to spend 100 minutes.

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Transfer Quality


     Special Forces is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Despite some choppy editing and hand-held digital cameras, Special Forces looks sharp and nicely detailed. Colours are on the muted side but generally look deep and natural, the widescreen mountain landscape and the village set looking spectacular. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural. Brightness and contrast are consistent.

     The print has a fair amount of ghosting with motion, especially against broken, rocky backgrounds such as the parachute landing. However grain is not an issue and marks and artefacts are otherwise absent.

     The layer change at 81:12 resulted in a slight pause.

    English subtitles are in a clean yellow font and are easy to read. I did not notice and spelling or grammatical errors.

     A very good looking print.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps, although there are sections of dialogue in other languages as well, including substantial portions in English.

     Dialogue was clear, centred and easy to understand. The surrounds were in frequent use with music and ambient sound but for an action film they were somewhat disappointing. There was lots of opportunity in fire-fights and helicopter fly overs to have utilized directional effects and expand the sound design, but this seldom occurred and I noticed only a couple of bullet ricochets for example when Elias was being chased. The subwoofer supported the music and some effects, such as explosions and engines, but again was not overly noticeable.

     The original music by Xavier Berthelot was epic and orchestral in nature. Some cues were very good but other times the music seemed very loud in the mix and drowned out some of the action effects.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The audio track was OK but I expected more from an action war film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Making of Special Forces 62:38

     Narrated by the film’s director, this is a genuine, old fashioned style documentary in its own right showing location scouting, the actors’ preparation and military training, the cooperation of the French special forces and the perils of shooting on location in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, the deserts of Djibouti and the snows of the French Alps. I may be biased, but as I have travelled in Tajikistan I loved the footage of a modern film crew working in such a remote location in Central Asia. An excellent, fascinating documentary.

Theatrical Trailer (1:49)

Madman Propaganda

     Trailers for Lebanon (1:49), Outside the Law (2:03), Point Blank (2:21) and 600 Kilos of Pure Gold (2:10).

R4 vs R1

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

     The DVD releases of Special Forces seem to be almost the same in Region 1 US (due for release 19/2/13) and Region 2 UK and France. All include the extensive “making of” but the UK includes around 7 minutes of deleted scenes. The Region A Blu-ray adds deleted scenes and a short interview. Unless the deletes scenes are vital, for DVD buy local.


     Special Forces is an exciting war film from France with good acting, impressive location photography and well executed action sequences done with some impressive weaponry and hardware.

     The video is very good, the audio acceptable but disappointing for an action film. The “making of” is an extensive, worthy extra. A good DVD package, well worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
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

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