Hardcore Henry (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 3-Aug-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-with Ilya Naishuller
Audio Commentary-with Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Fan Chat
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 96:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ilya Naishuller
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sharlto Copley
Danila Kozlovsky
Haley Bennett
Tim Roth
Andrei Dementiev
Svetlana Ustinova
Darya Charusha
Oleg Poddubnyy
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Darya Charusha


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Brief voice clip at end of credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    The narrative thrust of 2015’s Hardcore Henry is nothing out of the ordinary, but the “hook” is that it’s a first-person action movie, shown entirely from the point of view of the titular cyborg. Russian filmmaker Ilya Naishuller makes his directorial debut here after making quite a splash online by testing the first-person technique in action-packed music videos which raised demand for a feature-length motion picture in the same vein. The result is fundamentally a 95-minute POV chase, with Naishuller staging as much first-person carnage as possible, from fisticuffs to shootouts to car chases. It should be an easy home run, but the experience is ultimately let down by an uninteresting story and too many tedious lulls between the action sequences.

    Informed that he has been saved from certain death, Henry (played by several stuntmen) wakes up in mysterious high-tech facility with missing limbs and absolutely no memory of who he is. Coming into view is Estelle (Haley Bennett), who claims to be Henry’s wife, and who finishes his rehabilitative operation by fitting him with robotic limbs. When the facility is attacked and Estelle is taken prisoner by telekinetic supervillain Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), Henry goes on the run, pursued by dozens of Akan’s heavily armed soldiers who seek to capture the special individual. The only person willing to help Henry is the rather strange Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who’s capable of regenerating into countless different bodies and personalities, never remaining deceased for too long.

    The big downfall of Hardcore Henry is the convoluted story, which puts a damper on the sense of fun throughout. It’s often tricky to unravel the narrative, and more explanation would have been beneficial in the grand scheme of things. It’s worth nothing that Henry cannot talk and his face is never properly seen, thus no actor actually portrays the character - instead, he was brought to life by a team of crazy stuntmen. (Writer-director Naishuller even plays Henry in some scenes.) Commendably, though, it’s still possible to empathise with Henry and want to see him succeed in his mission. The big acting standout is Copley, who also executive produced the film. Copley assumes many different personas throughout (some more effective than others), allowing him to ham it up when the occasion calls for it, and he even performs a fun doppelgänger-filled musical performance of Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Meanwhile, Bennett does well as Estelle, and Kozlovsky (a Russian heartthrob superstar) makes for a sinister villain. Tim Roth even shows up in a minor role as Henry’s father.

    Produced for pocket change, Hardcore Henry was primary lensed using consumer-grade GoPro Hero 3 digital cameras, making for a rough-around-the-edges experience. With a team of eager stuntmen at his disposal, Naishuller orchestrates an over-the-top orgy of ultraviolence, pitting Henry against an endless supply of faceless goons who are beaten up, shot, and blown apart. Hardcore Henry is at its best during the fast-paced scenes of carnage, and Naishuller manages to vary the action sequences to sustain the picture’s new car smell - on top of a standout sniper sequence and an insane car chase, there’s even a set-piece involving a freaking tank, while helicopters and horses make appearances. Indeed, the movie is consistently creative in the action department, and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is even used during the climax. Editing is often choppy and fast, with plenty of cuts as opposed to a more seamless experience, but this does not significantly detract from the consistently impressive action scenes.

    Hardcore Henry is definitely a film for a certain niche. It’s excessive and ridiculously violent, and there’s nothing in the way of subtlety on display, but it does its job well enough and emerges as something unique in a very crowded contemporary blockbuster marketplace. In spite of its story issues, there are enough violent highlights to render the movie worth watching, especially for action junkies seeking a fix.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Hardcore Henry was shot almost entirely with consumer-grade GoPro Hero 3 digital cameras, which cannot produce the type of refined images that we have come to expect from major motion pictures. Therefore, don’t expect this low-budget movie to magically look pristine on Blu-ray, because it looks closer to a homemade production and even most YouTube videos look better. Make no mistake - this Blu-ray is a faithful replication of the movie, but I can’t in good conscience call this a good transfer. It’s pretty pedestrian, with all limitations of the source on full display.

    Framed in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this 1080p, AVC-encoded presentation looks best in outside locations or well-lit sets, when the image exhibits about as much refinement as can be expected. However, detail remains very limited and sharpness is mediocre. It’s soft. In fact, it looks closer to a DVD at times. Colours are drab, and blacks looks a bit washed-out, rather than inky. Meanwhile, lower-light scenes look tragic, with a general muddiness to the image that’s difficult to overlook. Other source-related issues crop up quite frequently, including heavy aliasing, noise, and macroblocking. There are a few shots which were not lensed with GoPros, and naturally they look the best on the whole, though they’re still a few notches below what you would get using RED or Arri Alexa rigs.

    It’s unfortunate that Hardcore Henry doesn’t look better. I usually score all transfers equally, so while I acknowledge that the transfer’s shortcomings are due to the shooting style, this is not an especially good transfer. It’s watchable I suppose, but even casual watchers will probably notice how soft and muddy this presentation is.

    English subtitles are available. Note that there are burned-in subtitles in one scene for Russian dialogue that actually overlaps as two ladies talk relentlessly, but this is a gag, rather than a formatting issue.


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

Audio

    News is much better in relation to the movie’s audio track, which is far more professional and polished than the video. Roadshow offers a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, which is more than sufficient for this bombastic but nevertheless rough-around-the-edges action movie. Every gunshot, punch and explosion makes great use of the subwoofer, and there’s plenty of dynamic range, with surround channels being put to great use throughout the mayhem. It’s a crisp and clear track to boot, with no encoding issues, though dialogue is occasionally a tad muted.

    People may be disappointed by the lack of a 7.1 or an Atmos track, but this 5.1 track remains spectacular nevertheless, and is faithful to the movie’s theatrical mix. Action lovers will have a wonderful time with this Blu-ray.

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

Extras

    A small selection of extras from Roadshow.

Audio Commentary with Ilya Naishuller

    Even despite the mixed reviews, Naishuller is clearly proud of his efforts here, and provides a very open and informative commentary track about the movie. It’s mostly scene-specific, covering a number of relevant topics, including digital effects, filming conditions, actors, and so on. He also speaks about the benefits of filming in Russia, where safety rules are looser and the stunt guys were crazily enthusiastic. (Though he does mention that an arrogant cop tried to muck up one filming day.) One particularly dangerous moment was even filmed without any sort of safety precautions. Funding issues and the risk of going to IndieGoGo is also touched on. All in all, a solid track.

Audio Commentary with Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley

    The better of the two commentary tracks, this is a very easy-going, scene-specific conversation between the two men, who are clearly proud of their movie. They discuss how Copley got involved in the project and the various filming conditions, on top of scenes that were removed. Copley also shares his thoughts on scenes for which he wasn’t on-set, and mentions how amazing it was to see some of the stuntmen working. Naishuller talks about how certain scenes were achieved, and there’s even mild talks of a sequel, though sadly we may not ever see a follow-up. The pair have a lot to talk about, making this a welcome and informative commentary.

Fan Chat (HD; 12:25)

    Rather than a making-of featurette, here we have Copley and Naishuller sitting down to answer a selection of questions from fans about the movie. There is some interesting stuff here, and the interview is intercut with a bit of behind-the-scenes footage. Still, I would have liked something more substantial.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 8:13)

    Four deleted scenes are included here, which can only be played in a single chunk, with no individual scene selection. All of these scenes are presented in 4:3 full-screen and appear to just contain raw production audio. The extra action stuff is nice.

R4 vs R1

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

    All editions worldwide appear to be identical. Buy local.

Summary

    Hardcore Henry came and went without making much of an impact, but it will almost certainly become something of a cult item in a few years. The action sequences are frequently impressive and there's a lot of fun to be had, warts and all.

    The Blu-ray presentation is about as good as can be expected, with solid audio but seriously flawed video, while the extras are informative. Worth buying, but only at sale price.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, October 17, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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