Pusher (Blu-ray) (1996)

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Released 17-Sep-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Trailer-Accent trailers x 4
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 105:22
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn
Studio
Distributor
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Kim Bodnia
Zlatko Buric
Laura Drasbæk
Slavko Labovic
Mads Mikkelsen
Peter Andersson
Vanja Bajicic
Lisbeth Rasmussen
Levino Jensen
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Peter Peter


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, and drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Pusher is a raw and kinetic trawl through the bars, clubs and mean streets of Copenhagen, using constantly moving hand held cameras to follow one week of the life of low level drug pusher Frank (Kim Bodnia). And follow is indeed the word, for the camera tracks Frank the entire time and we see what he sees, and know what he knows. Without preamble we are introduced to Frank, his friend / minder, the skinhead Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) and Frank’s girlfriend, the drug user and prostitute Vic (Laura Drasbaek). Frank owes money to Croatian drug supplier Milo (Zlatko Buric) but borrows a cache of drugs from Milo for a deal he believes will repay the debt. However, when the Police intervene in the drug deal Frank flees with the drugs into the lake and gets rid of the evidence. But now Milo wants all his money back and sends his lieutenant Radovan (Slavko Labvic) to get it. And as the week goes on, Frank becomes more and more desperate to find the money to get Milo, and Radovan, off his back.

     Pusher was made in 1996 by the 26 year old Danish director and co-writer Nicolas Winding Refn as his first film. Pusher certainly started to make his reputation; it spawned two sequels also directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II (2004) and I’m the Angel of Death: Pusher III (2005)) as well as an English language remake directed by Assad Raja in 2010, and Nicolas Winding Refn has gone on to make a number of English language films including Bronson (2008) and Only God Forgives (2013). Pusher was also the first feature film for actor Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen went on to star in more films for Nicolas Winding Refn including With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II and the period film Valhalla Rising (2009). Mikkelsen is now a well-known actor both in and out of Scandinavia; he was the memorable villain in Casino Royale (2006), and also won the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2012 for the Danish language drama The Hunt.

     Pusher has thus acquired something of a cult status that is well deserved. The jerky camera can get tiresome, but it mostly works to give an immediacy to the filmmaking that is enhanced by the loose structure of the plotting (some days nothing much happens), the natural sounding dialogue, the genuine locations and the excellent ensemble acting, led by the charisma of Mikkelsen. The film feels real throughout, and the ending is both unexpected and open-ended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Pusher is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio being 1.66:1. It is 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Filmed on the streets in jerky takes by hand held Super 16 cameras, this was never going to be a pristine print. Detail varies from not bad to indifferent, depending on lighting conditions. The daylight sequences do not look too bad with natural but muted colours, except where the light source is behind the actor when everything becomes quite glary. Night sequences are more of a problem when blacks suffer from noise reduction and look very grainy (see 57:47 for one very mottled picture) and shadow detail can be quite indistinct. Brightness and contrast varies, and not only in the club scenes.

     Marks and other artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles are available in a clear yellow font. They seemed timely and I noticed only one error at 98:04He have to fix it” when the next sentence confirms it should be “We have to fix it”.

     The print is probably the best it could look given the source material.

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

Audio

     Audio is a Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 at 448 Kbps, that is no lossless audio.

     Dialogue was generally clear, even in the club scenes. The audio was surround encoded, and the rears mostly carried the driving electronic score by Peter Peter, with some crowd noise but few effects.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Trailers (8:35)

     The following trailers play on start-up: Static, My Little Princess, The Door and Masquerade. They can also be selected from the menu, plus a trailer for Pusher.

     There are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

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

     Surprisingly, there are no Region A US or Region B UK Blu-ray releases listed for Pusher although a Region B German Blu-ray is available that is not English friendly. The previous Region 2 UK DVD release of Pusher came with a commentary by Nicolas Winding Refn and Bill Lustig, but that does not seem to have made it to any Blu-ray.

Summary

     Pusher is a raw and kinetic trawl through the bars, clubs and mean streets of Copenhagen which feels real. It is also the first feature of Danish writer / director Nicolas Winding Refn and actor Mads Mikkelsen, both of whom have gone on the bigger things. This is well worth a look, especially for fans of Mikkelsen or those who enjoy gritty crime dramas,

     The release is only 1080i and Dolby Digital, but both are probably as good as we are going to get given the source material and it seems to be the only English friendly Blu-ray available at present.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, October 27, 2014
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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