Killing Season (2013)

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Released 16-Oct-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Trailer-The Iceman
Trailer-The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Trailer-The Call
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 87:00 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Steven Johnson

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert De Niro
John Travolta
Milo Ventimiglia
Elizabeth Olin
Diana Lyubenova
Kalin Sarmenov
Stefan Shterev
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Christopher Young

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis


The purest form of war is one on one.


   Ben Ford (Robert De Niro) has returned from the 1992 Bosnian War with dark memories and a broken spirit. Seeking comfort in solitude and nature Ben has divorced and has little contact with his son Chris (Milo Ventimiglia) and has not seen his newly born grandchild. Although invited to the child's christening Ben finds excuses to stay in his Appalachian mountain cabin, even though it's plain that his son desperately wants to make contact. Ben has experienced the horrors of war as part of the NATO ground forces and has seen atrocities that are impossible to forget. Although hunting has apparently been a favourite activity over many years Ben no longer has the stomach for killing and prefers to shoot animals with a camera.

    Meanwhile in Serbia, the former civil war combatant Emil Kovac (John Travolta) becomes aware of the existence and location of the man who shot him years before and who left him for dead. That man is Ben Ford, and Emil wants revenge. Pretending to be a fellow hunter, Emil stages an encounter with Ben on a mountain track and ingratiates himself by helping with Ben's truck. Despite his hermit tendencies Ben invites Emil back to his cabin where they reminisce over a bottle of good whiskey. It isn't long however until Emil's true intent is revealed, and Ben is forced use all his military training in a fight for his life.

    Killing Season is a low-budget survival movie and it shows. Why De Niro and Travolta agreed to star in this effort is a mystery, but presumably they don't need the money. Director Mark Steven Johnson has a background in thrillers but even he can't inject much life into proceedings which plods along until the "tit-for-tat" stand-offs towards the end. De Niro performs by numbers whereas Travolta is ludicrously miscast as the Serbian psycho who mixes religion with murder. Travolta is an actor of note, but his New Jersey accented "Serbian" is so unconvincing as to be laughable - and furthermore it looks like his hair and beard was painted on. Every time he was on-screen I cringed at the hammy acting and broken accent. De Niro shone a little more brightly during the action scenes and was also more convincing as the heroic "fraud" that's living a lie.

    Supporting roles were only briefly required as the plot and action is very much centred on the two main protagonists. Archival news footage of the conflict in question is interspersed with the current action and the message that "conflict is eternal" is projected in a not so subtle manner. The ending also seems rather unlikely given what has just taken place.

    As a man versus man battle to the death Killing Seasons has some good moments, but overall it's not enough to raise the overall standard much above ordinary.

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Transfer Quality


    This DVD is presented in 2.40:1 which is slightly wider than the cinematic aspect of 2.35:1. This is a mostly pleasing video presentation with well delineated greys and blacks and vibrant colours. Detail is good for a standard definition transfer and only became slightly murky during dimly lit interior scenes. Some outdoor scenes artificially turned into night also introduced variation in colour and significant detail crush. Outdoor daytime contrast levels in the forest were also a little askew, and I think suffered from rain effects being introduced on what looked to be a predominantly sunny day. For example at around 16:00 the shadows are sharply delineated yet in the next moment everything is dark again as the storm rages. Although these problems are certainly there they don't detract from what is really a pretty good effort for a low budget film.


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


    The options are a English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kb/s and English descriptive for the vision impaired Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kb/s. Surround and LFE activity is nicely presented during the war flash-back sequences and at times during the confrontation in the American countryside. There are particular effects behind the listener that certainly enhance the movie experience such as lightening cracks and arrow thuds and creaks whilst hiding in the church. Dialogue is mostly perfectly clear and in synch with the video during the frequent monologues, although Travolta's accent is a bit muffled at times. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are included. As you'd expect the 5.1 track is much preferred to stereo 2.0.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    Animated menu with audio.

Previews - occurring on startup before the main menu. All with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kb/s.

    The Iceman (2:23).

    The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2:19).

    The Call (2:19).



R4 vs R1

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

    Killing Season is available in region 1 with a Killing Season featurette and different language options. It also seems to be in a cropped 1.78:1 aspect - presumably to fit better with the TV movie market. For this reason get the local version.


    The big name stars might lend a bit of weight to appeal but really Killing Seasons is nothing new and falls short of being worth seeking out. There is a message behind the film but that is soon lost as the plot and character faults become oppressive. What could have been a rewarding foray into the rarely covered Balkan conflict is ultimately disappointing and easily forgotten.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are poor.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mike B (read my bio)
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge Audio 751bd, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

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