xXx: Collector's Edition (2002)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-xXx-A Filmmaker's Diary (2)
Featurette-Building Speed: The Vehicles of xXx
Featurette-Designing the World of xXx
Featurette-Visual Effects How To's (3) +/- commentary
Deleted Scenes-10 +/- director's commentary
Music Video-Adrenaline-Gavin Rossdale
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-National Security; I Spy
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (88:27)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Rob Cohen|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Samuel L. Jackson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, No credits at the start, but cool ones at the end.|
Xander Cage is a man on a mission. Frustrated at the attempts by the ruling 'Baby Boomer' generation to force their values and laws upon fellow Gen-X'rs and Gen-Y'rs, Xander (Vin Diesel) deals out his own type of extreme justice by punishing those deemed bad enough to be taken to 'The Xander Zone'. This isn't so much literal punishment as public humiliation in video clips that Xander and his gang film and it is during one of these where we first meet Mr. Cage. Californian State Senator Dick Hotchkiss has been selected for special treatment by Xander for crimes against young humanity including attempting to ban rap music, video games and skateboarding. Surely these are crimes warranting the ultimate fate, but Xander and his boys have a different penalty in mind - scrap Dick's car in the most extreme way possible. Of course, this is all filmed for later broadcast on the net. During a wrap-up party for the day's activities, Xander's apartment is raided and as everyone flees, he is shot with a tranquillizer dart.
Our hero wakes up in a daze at a dinner where things don't look quite right. Eventually Xander discovers that he has been selected by the secretive National Security Agency to infiltrate a dangerous Russian crime gang that is suspected of dealing in more than just drugs. All the NSA's attempts to find out what the Russian mobsters are up to have been thwarted and with the agency losing agents faster than you can say 'Bang Bang', NSA top agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) is given the go-ahead to recruit from different areas. Gibbons picks from everywhere; ex-cons, gang members, hired killers and just about anyone who can handle themselves in tense situations and in the end it's Xander that handles himself the best. Xander has another reason to play along with Gibbons' plan. You see, Xander has two felony convictions and under the state's 'three strikes' rule, a third felony conviction will see him behind bars for life. Yet, if he does this job for the NSA, Gibbons will wipe the slate clean and give Xander a fresh new start. So, it's off to Prague in the Czech Republic and with luck a meeting with the Russian gang's leader, Yorgi.
Once in Prague, Xander makes contact with the local police and NSA agents there who supply our hero with some background information as well as all the requisite techno-gadgets any super spy would need. Now it's up to Xander to infiltrate the Russian mob, find out their plans and get out safely. But if getting in is the easy part, then getting out is the real clincher and with Xander ever more part of the gang's activities and ever more attracted to Yorgi's girl Yelena, the stakes are higher than ever. And when Xander discovers the truth about the group's intentions, he finds that it's more that just his own life that's at stake, but the whole of Europe and possibly the world as well. Xander will have to put all his skills and talents to the ultimate test and he has to get it right the first time...or it will be the last time.
James Bond. There, I said it. I really think that it's important to go into this film with the knowledge that where we're going isn't entirely new territory. All of the subjects, characters, scenarios, twists, gadgets and vehicles have been done before. There is nothing new here, folks, so if you are to enjoy this film you'll have to come at it from a different angle. Part of what this film is is directly related to its target audience which I would have guessed is 14 to 19 year old males, so if you can connect with that demographic then you can connect with this film.
Pitching an action spy thriller at the teen market means that you have to do things a little bit differently. Firstly, tuxedos are out, leather and tattoos are in. Bach, Prokofiev and Mahler are out and Rammstein and Orbital are in. Austin Healys, MGs and Jaguars are out and Corvettes and Pontiac GTOs are in. Skis are out, snowboards are in. You start to get the picture. And while all these things make the film's hero a bit more accessible to the target audience, there are some things that anyone will recognize, such as the secret agency, its strong leader, the mission in deep cover to infiltrate the bad guy's organization, the plan for world domination, the bad guy's attractive girl, the hero's attraction to her, the chases, and the explosions. The performances here are all good and everyone is credible in their roles. A real surprise is Asia Argento, daughter of famed horror director Dario Argento and a director in her own right having written, produced and directed several features including the well-regarded Scarlet Diva in 2000. Her performance as the bad guy's squeeze is more than within her range. Marton Csokas is well cast as Russian baddie Yorgi and while born in New Zealand carries off the Russian accent and demeanour well (despite the fact that I thought that he looked like popular psychic John Edwards' evil twin brother). Samuel L. Jackson does a walk through as Agent Gibbons with an adequate performance that lends a bit of major star credibility to the picture, but not a lot else. Many others could have done the job that Jackson does, but it is always nice to see him even if he's not kicking someone's ass in this film (he has others do it for him). Holding up the entire film on his shoulders is new action man Vin Diesel whose career over the last 4 years hasn't just hotted up, it's been doused in petrol and set alight. This film has done much to cement that position with a performance that will propel him to super stardom (if he doesn't self destruct like so many promising stars that have come our way over the last decade). All our leads, in conjunction with director Rob Cohen, make an interesting and entertaining motion picture that, while far from original, takes us on a fun and action-filled trip that will have you at least in an upright position if not at the edge of your seat.
So in the end the question will be - 'does the film work'? In a word, yes. As I said before, you have to go into the film with an open mind and with the knowledge that this isn't going to be ground-breaking cinema. We have indeed seen all of this before in the Bond films, the Austin Powers films, the Flint films and even in If Looks Could Kill (Teen Agent) which was another attempt at the youth market millions of years ago (okay, in 1991). Of course, a sequel to xXx is in the works with the leads slated to return (Update: Ice Cube is now expected to play the lead role in xXx2 as Vin Diesel has dropped out of the production), which should be interesting as there is also talk of an action film featuring Halle Berry as Jinx, a character from the latest Bond film Die Another Day (2002) which could come out at around the same time (Update: MGM unexpectedly shelved this project late in 2003). The next question is whether you'll enjoy this film. If you think that Rammstein and Orbital are new corporations listed on the ASX, then you might want to wait for Die Another Day to come out on DVD later this year. Otherwise, enjoy as there is much good mindless fun to be had here.
This film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.
For the most part, the image on this disc is quite sharp and watchable, although there are some issues with film grain that at times hamper the level of detail visible. Grain issues aside, the picture is quite clean and clear with sharpness not a major problem. Shadow detail varies from adequate to fairly ordinary (see 19:07 as an example) with some darker portions of the film's image washed out or 'snowed under' by excessive amounts of film grain (19:10). Low level noise, in conjunction with grain is visible at 35:47 and 84:33.
Colour depiction during this film is fairly natural and free from obvious exaggeration. The portrayal of colour on this disc is quite good and in keeping with the natural feel that was evident (despite the grain) in the theatrical version of this film.
Thankfully, MPEG artefacts are not a real problem with this disc with a very competent compression job done here. Aliasing isn't a real problem and is only visible if looked for. Secret Artefact Edge Enhancement infiltrates at 28:17 and 52:59 but isn't as prevalent as he could have been, thankfully. When seeing this film during its theatrical run, the major issue I had was the excessive amount of grain visible. While grain isn't the major bane of this reviewer, I found it to be needlessly excessive. This was most evident during the scene when Xander enters his room to be greeted with a special treat (54:58 PAL DVD time). Upon seeing the amount of grain (in a cinema in Melbourne), the others in my party looked at each other and said 'What the?!?'. While I had some problems with the amount of grain seen during Episode II: Attack of the Clones (also seen at a Melbourne cinema), this was far worse and I had worries as to what extent the grain would raise its head on the DVD release. The answer is that it's there, just not to the extent seen during the theatrical screening I attended in 2002. It is an unfortunate fact that the grain at times affects the clarity of the goings-on on screen as can be seen at 19:10, 25:30 and 35:27. Other than the overactive grain, I didn't have any issues with film artefacts and the print seemed fairly clean with only the occasional fleck visible.
There are several subtitle options available on this disc, most notably English, Italian, and Dutch for the main feature. Also available are the same subtitle options for many of the special features as well as the Director's Commentary, which is invaluable to any whose first language isn't English. This feature is most desired with titles that offer commentaries in languages other than English such as Bagdad Cafe, whose commentary was in German only without the benefit of any subtitles and Anatomie, which featured a commentary in German with English subtitles. The whole idea is to present to the viewer the filmmaker's intent and insight. The fact that this title offers subtitles in a language other than English is in my opinion very valuable. If only this practice was consistent and carried out across the board (the French Region 2 three disc version of Brotherhood of the Wolf anyone?). Sadly, not.
Another issue with the subtitles is the fact that in one particularly scene the subtitles just aren't there. This is seen at 50:08 where some of the dialogue isn't covered by any of the available subtitles. This is the scene with Xander and Yorgi singing the Vandals song 'Anarchy Burger'. The passage goes: 'America stands for freedom, but if you think you're free, try walking into a deli and urinating on the cheese'. This whole passage, sung by Xander and Yorgi is completely untitled and one has to wonder whether this is related to the disclaimer posted at the start of this film about Colombia Tristar not endorsing the views and statements of the those in the film and its commentaries. This is an unusual omission that stands out like the proverbial. Otherwise, the subtitles are fairly accurate and convey the general meaning of the spoken word while not being word for word.
This disc is formatted dual layered with the layer change taking place at 88:27 within Chapter 22. It takes place during a very still and silent portion of the film and does not attract undue attention to itself; a perfect spot for a layer change.
There are 3 audio tracks available on this disc, 2 of which I listened to in their entirety. The third (the Italian track) I listened to in a limited fashion and according to my wife, whose Italian is fluent, is a reasonable dub although I thought that the guy who did Xander's voice sounded too old.
For the most part, the dialogue quality for this feature is quite good, however we do get some fairly ordinary ADR sync at 79:25. This isn't a terrible problem and stands out only because I was looking out for it. There is a slight problem with overmiking that stands out like the proverbial at 15:21 where Xander is talking at the dinner. At this point, his voice is slightly distorted. This lasts for several seconds and then disappears. I thought that I heard this same effect at a couple of other places during the feature, but never to the extent at 15:21.
Music for this film was composed by active and accomplished scorer Randy Edelman who has worked with director Rob Cohen on several projects including Dragonheart and Daylight in 1996 and The Skulls in 2000. Edelman's score is memorable with recurrent themes used to highlight different characters on screen, and to good effect. Also contributing to the film's soundscape is Rammstein whose song 'Feuer Frei' opens proceedings very well indeed. Orbital, Queens Of The Stoneage and many others also contribute to a fitting hard-edged soundtrack that perfectly matches the action and attitude of the film's hero Xander.
Befitting a film of this type, anything less than a full attack from all 6 channels would be a disappointment. Thankfully, this isn't a problem here although I expected a dts track to be included on this disc. Those familiar with my reviews will know that I'm of the opinion that dts is okay to have but not the be-all-and-end-all of DVD audio, however, I think that this is one of those titles that would have been served well by an aggressive and weighty dts track. Sorry folks, no such option here (or on the Region 1 disc for that matter), but we do have a reasonable Dolby Digital mix to support the film. The surrounds were, as expected, on fire from the word go with some highlights at 6:49, 21:03 and 30:52. These are just examples - the surrounds are very active during the many gunfights, explosions and aircraft passes seen during the movie.
As is the case with the rear, so it is with the LFE channel and there are many opportunities for one's subwoofer to come to the fore. As well as backing up the mains during the film's score, the LFE channel also supports the many impacts and explosions. Good use of the .1 channel that serves the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a collection of 3 trailers that are selectable from both the Main Menu as well as the Xander Zone feature. These are:
A very short and sweet look at the film. I remember seeing it on the web for the first time and being very excited about this movie. Wish we could have had a few more teaser and trailers for this film, but one will have to do. Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1.
Trailer for the Steve Zahn / Martin Lawrence action/comedy about two security guards that get caught up in a smuggling caper. Looks to be in the Bad Boys vein. Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1.
Continuing in the 'everything old is new again' stakes is this trailer for another classic TV show made into a film with big stars and a bigger budget. Have a look at the original TV series and see how good a spy TV show can be with absolutely fantastic performances from Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as two American super-spys. Ahead of its time. I'll be interested to see if this film lives up to the original series (I doubt it). Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1.
This feature takes the viewer to a collection of features relating to the development and filming of this movie. On offer in the Xander Zone:
I'm one who always gets something from a commentary, even (sometimes especially) if it's a film that I don't like. As usual, Director Rob Cohen provides an interesting and insightful look into the making of this film which was recorded just 2 days before the premiere in August, 2002. Rob was confident about how successful the film would be, but there is always some level of uncertainty and it was interesting to hear a discussion about a film from its creator before said film had even screened theatrically. A very detailed look at the production, motivation and spirit that went into making this motion picture. If you are a fan of commentaries (everyone isn't) this is one you may wish to check out.
This feature is divided into two separate sections, these being:
This is an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film starting in the U.S. with a moment of contemplation and prayer (?!?). Americans. Then again, since this film began production in September 2001, I suppose you could hardly blame them. There is some very interesting footage of the Colombian drug farm raid and how some of the incredible stunts were set up.
After wrapping the shoot in the U.S., the cast and crew relocated to the interesting and often-used location of Prague in the Czech Republic where much of the film takes place. Here, we get some insight as to how some of the action and explosion scenes were set up as well as some interviews with the film's cast and crew.
These 2 featurettes are presented full frame with much of the footage being displayed in the film's aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Of course, there is no 16x9 enhancement. Audio for both portions is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. Both of these featurettes are selectable individually or playable in sequence by using the Play All icon.
This feature offers us three separate documentaries on the production of this film. These are:
Any spy film worth its salt has to have a swag of exciting and larger-than-life vehicles and this film is no exception. From the Ahab submersible chemical agent delivery vehicle to Xander's Pontiac GTO, all the groovy driven contraptions seen in this film are described here. This featurette, and the others in this group, are presented full frame with some footage in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.
Every super spy has a place to live in and a world to save. Here, we get a look at how some of the detailed locations were used and sometimes totally created. The city of Prague gets much mention as a beautiful place to shoot a film, as many a director has found out.
This film would have been a flop without its current Hollywood hot property star, Vin Diesel. This is a look at the film's star and some interviews with those who work with him.
This feature presents an insight into how one of the film's impressive action sequences was filmed. This feature is split into 3 separate sections that can be selected individually or played back to back. Also selectable is a commentary by the film's visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek. If the commentary option is not selected this feature will play without audio of any kind.
While this film isn't overloaded with CG effects, there was some quite seamless CG work done and this feature details how the look of the mountain was enhanced for film as well as some extra things that the visual effects department did to make the avalanche scene work. This, as well as the other 2 features in this section are presented in 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 (if commentary is selected).
This feature shows how the snow that follows the snowboarding Xander during the avalanche was created.
A quick look at how both CG and physical elements were combined to create the demolition of the shack by the avalanche.
These 10 deleted scenes are selectable individually or playable as a whole with or without commentary by the film's director Rob Cohen. These are all presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but without 16x9 enhancement. Timecodes and other data are present in the black areas above and below the image. Audio for all the scenes is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. Because this material was selected for deletion, the image quality suffers a fair bit with much of the image on offer fairly soft, and almost fuzzy. This is not a real problem, however, as these are only offered to show the viewer what the filmmakers intended throughout the filming process.
A scene with Samuel L. Jackson talking to others in the NSA about recruiting from other areas after the loss of yet another agent. Look out for William Hope, whom many will remember as Lt. Gorman from James Cameron's Aliens, as Agent Roger Donnan. Hope also appears in the main feature in several scenes.
Xander and a teen talk about life and video games on the flight to Prague. Cut because it made Xander out to be too nice a guy.
After Xander meets with the Prague police and his contact Milan Sova, he attempts to get some sleep, under the ever-watchful eyes of the Ivans.
Milan Sova gets Xander into the Underworld Club. Where the hell are these clubs? I've never seen such groovy clubs in my life! Maybe I should get out more.
Milan comes to after Xander shoots him with the dart.
This section is basically 2 scenes. First, there is some discussion between Xander and Yorgi about anarchy and what the gang stands for. The second part? All I'll say is - Lads, enjoy.
Yorgi gets some interesting information about Xander the morning after the big night at the club. Interesting as the three girls on Yorgi's bed have all had their faces blurred out for the entire scene.
Xander and Gibbons talk via satellite phone after the avalanche.
An extended look at the police raid on Yorgi's mansion. Brutal.
Some more talk between Yelena and Xander while vacationing in Bora Bora.
Directed by Rob Cohen, this is a simple movie tie-in video clip with Gavin (formerly of the band Bush) singing at the sides of the screen while we see various scenes from the film. It also features during the end credits. Okay song, but I wish we had some more from Rammstein. Presented in 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.
These are simple 1 or 2 page text lists of some of the features that the people connected with this film have worked on or appeared in.
This is a mirror icon that offers the same trailer options as made available on the Main Menu. The trailers are for xXx, National Security and I Spy.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film was released in Region 1 late in 2002. For the most part we get the same package afforded our Region 1 cousins, however, there are a couple of differences.
The Region 4 version misses out on:
The super spy genre continues to evolve and grow over time and this film adds to what is already a huge list of such titles. Writer Rich Wilkes says that he set out to create a character that was a cross between James Bond and Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. I believe he succeeded. No, there isn't anything new here, but like many products (and this is a product) it's all in the packaging and the presentation. As we enter a new century, the youth call out for someone that they can identify with. (I thought that's what they were calling out for - either that or more beer). The whole attitude of this film is summed up in the first 2 minutes when the first NSA agent, after capturing the Russian mob's data disc, slips out of his overalls to reveal a tuxedo. He runs into the packed night club planning to blend in with the Prague locals and make a clean escape. The look on his face says it all when he realizes that no one here wears tuxedos. Welcome to the 21st Century, Papa. It's time for a brand new bag. His name is xXx. The video is okay with some major issues with grain present for much of the feature. Otherwise, this is a completely watchable feature, though not reference. The audio is okay with an active and dynamic soundtrack used to good effect. It is sad that a dts track wasn't included as it would have given the film just that little bit more. The extras are comprehensive with many features, documentaries, and a director's commentary available.
The video is okay with some major issues with grain present for much of the feature. Otherwise, this is a completely watchable feature, though not reference.
The audio is okay with an active and dynamic soundtrack used to good effect. It is sad that a dts track wasn't included as it would have given the film just that little bit more.
The extras are comprehensive with many features, documentaries, and a director's commentary available.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD RA-61, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|