Outcast (Blu-ray) (2014)
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Nick Powell|
Bill Su Jiahang
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Outcast commences in the 12th century in the Holy Land with an army of crusaders, including Gallian (Nicholas Cage) and Jacob (Hayden Christensen), attacking and capturing an Arab town amid bloodshed and slaughter. Gallian is sickened by the massacre of women and children and decides to leave the crusades and travel east. He urges Jacob to join him but Jacob, for now at least, has not had enough of killing. The film then switches to “The Far East” three years later where a dying King decides to leave the kingdom to his youngest son Prince Zhao (Bill Su Jiahang), passing over his older son, the brutal warrior Prince Shing (Andy On). Shing does not accept the situation: he murders his father and takes the throne. Prince Zhao flees the palace with the Royal Seal accompanied only by his sister Princess Lian (Liu Yifei).
Shing announces that Zhao has murdered the king and sends his Black Guards after the fugitives. The Black Guards catch Lian and Zhao in a tavern and are about to execute them when they are saved by Jacob. Jacob has his own demons and is now addicted to opium, but he reluctantly agrees to help the fugitives. Dogged by the Black Guards and saving young village girl Xiaoli (Coco Wang) on the way, they travel towards the mountains to seek refuge with a legendary bandit chief called the White Ghost. It is no surprise that this turns out to be Gallian, who has his own reasons for hating the Black Guards. There the group face a final confrontation with Shing and his men.
Outcast is a Chinese / Canadian / French co-production. The plot is a standard of Chinese period action films; a pretender usurps a throne causing the rightful ruler to flee into the wilds pursued by killers! Filmed in China, the addition of western actors and making the film in English is not unlike what happened in Italy with the sword and sandal or spaghetti western films; an attempt to take a local film to a wider audience, although a film headlining Hayden Christensen and Nicholas Cage is unlikely to set the pulses racing in anticipation.
Nicolas Cage can act and won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas in 1996. He was at his action hero peak in the mid-90’s with the wildly entertaining trio of The Rock (1996), Con Air and Face/Off (both 1997). While more recently it seems he will do anything for money, his action films are still entertaining and worth watching including the couple I reviewed on this site recently Stolen (2012) and Tokarev (2014). Yet, however much as I like watching Cage in action, he is one of those actors who look more at home with a gun than a large sword! I thought his turn as a crusader in Season of the Witch (2011) was poor but Outcast is far worse. Here he uses a ludicrous accent, sports a very interesting hair style and appears with snakes as bracelets, mugging extensively as only he can! In contrast Christensen is not too bad. Yes, he is stoic and wooden but he looks good wielding a sword while taking on black clad extras. And, as action is really Outcast’s strength, his performance is acceptable.
That Outcast is action oriented is no surprise as it directed by Nick Powell, who has 114 credits listed in the IMDb as a stunt coordinator, including The Bourne Identity (2003), The Last Samurai (2003), and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). As is the modern way, the fight sequences in Outcast are filmed up close using hand held cameras and quick cutting, creating a chaotic look and a blur of action involving arrows, swords and non-edged weapons, horses and the occasional explosion. It is done quite well and, despite the film’s MA rating, the violence is not excessive; certainly blood flows but the film is not overly bloody or gory.
Outcast is a decent action adventure; the fight sequences are loud, colourful and energetic and the film flies along during its running time. Crusaders in China is an interesting idea, although Powell does throw in some distracting and unnecessary camera tricks, such as the POV from the bottom of a bucket. Cage’s performance is also distracting, but his screen time is limited to the start and end of the film.
Outcast is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
The print of Outcast is fairly standard for a recent digitally shot film. Close-ups are detailed and the colours are nice and glossy although a number of scenes have that very yellowish digital tinge which does affect skin tones. Blacks are solid and shadow detail is very good. Contrast and brightness is consistent; there are some sequences out of focus to represent a state of opium addiction, but these are deliberate.
I did not notice any marks or artefacts.
There are no subtitles.
The audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.
The audio is excellent. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and the surrounds and rears were used constantly for music and effects such as galloping horses, rain and other weather effects, arrows and voices. There were also directional effects, such as the whoosh of weapons being swung. The sub-woofer added bass to explosions, the thump of bodies, horses’ hooves and the music.
Lip synchronisation was fine, which was impressive given that a number of actors were dubbed into English.
The original score by Guillaume Roussel was suitably sweeping and epic, adding to the enjoyment of the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are absolutely zilch extras and the menu only offers only “Play”.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region A US version of Outcast is due for release at the end of March. There is no Region B UK release listed at this time.
Although Nicholas Cage is at his most distracting, Outcast is an enjoyable action adventure; hooves thunder, arrows fly and swords clash as Crusaders and Chinese Imperial Black Guards go head to head. Watch it for the action and the Yunnan scenery, not the acting.
The video and audio are fine, there are no extras.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 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 Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|