The Tracker (2000)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 89:14
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jeff Schechter
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Casper Van Dien
Russell Wong
Françoise Robertson
Lexa Doig
Jason Blicker
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Marc Ouellette


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

"Two violent crime families. One cop caught in the middle."

    The Russian and Chinese are at war, and the streets of New York are the battleground. With the relations between the two rival ethnic gangs at an all-time low, it takes just one hit from one camp upon the other to push the two clans into all-out gang war. After a major hit from the Russian quarter upon the son-in-law of the Chinese crime leader and the kidnapping of his daughter, the feud between the two gangs is about to hot up, and much blood will be shed before it is all over.

    Connor Spears is a former Los Angeles cop and one of the most successful 'Trackers' in the country. Employed by various private individuals as well as large corporations, Connor (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow) has the uncanny ability to trace the trail of any given individual to their current whereabouts. When we first meet him, he has just tracked down an insurance defrauder at her wedding. At first charming, he delivers the coup-de-gras with charm and wit all the while proving that law-breakers and con men can run, but they can't hide. But as this episode ends, another is about to begin, and the stakes are far higher than Connor could imagine. Meeting Connor at his home, Rick Tsung (Russell Wong, New Jack City, The Joy Luck Club, Romeo Must Die) has come to Connor with troubling news: Connor's former girlfriend and Rick's sister Kim has been kidnapped by the Russians and she must be rescued quickly before she becomes a victim of the escalating turf war between the Chinese and the Russians. The only problems is that Rick and Connor have never got along well because of Connor's relationship with Rick's sister, and there is much bad blood between the pair. But overcome this they must, if they are to come to the aid of Kim and restore peace to the streets of New York.

    Upon the pair's arrival in the big apple, they soon acquire suitable transportation around the city via plucky taxi driver Carmen Bavelah (Françoise Robertson), ex-army and more than eager to help the two. That's a good thing, as the pair will need all the help they can get as both the Chinese and Russian underworld have them in their crosshairs and they will have to use all the skills they have if they are to rescue Kim and come out of this ordeal alive!

    Here's more of the ever-prevalent DTV DVD (Direct To Video DVD) crap to entertain you on a night where there's nothing on television other than the 5,000th re-run of The American President or another footy game where you team's not playing. Having said that, this film is so bad that perhaps either of the above examples just might prove more of a quality viewing experience than what we have here. Suffice it to say that this is a turkey of the highest order. Problems with the film? Sure...where do I start? Here's the list: bad acting, poor characterizations, incompetent continuity, ridiculous dialogue, uninspiring fight scenes, poor direction...need I go on? Probably not. In fact, this one is so mindnumbingly bad that it verges quite close to being consigned to the 'so bad it's good' category.

    Having neared the top of the filmdom food chain with just one film (Paul Verhoeven's classic anti-fascist / anti-war movie Starship Troopers), actor Casper Van Dien has sadly fallen to the bottom of the heap with this film. Casper is a great looking guy, but as this film proves, unless he is placed under great direction and given a competent script, he cannot carry a film on his looks alone. Very little shines here in terms of his performance, one that completely lacks energy and conviction. The same can be said of Russell Wong, who did a competent job in the Jet Li actioner Romeo Must Die. I really did expect more from him here, but in the end his performances was almost a perfect match for that of Casper's, i.e. lacklustre. Probably the only stand-out performance was that of Françoise Robertson as the plucky taxi driver, Carmen. She had a spark about her that seemed to transcend this uninspiring piece and I would think that we would be better off if we saw a bit more from her.

    Director Jeff Schechter is more versed in writing and directing children's programming, so this film might have been a bit of a stretch. This disaster isn't all Jeff's fault, though, as writer Robert Geoffrion (The Hitman with Chuck Norris, The Peacekeeper with Dolf Lundgren) covers some of the usual territory of his other scripts and comes up wanting. There is very little to commend about this film and I feel that it will eventually fade from history with little fanfare. There have been a million and one films of this calibre and storyline and it takes more than this to stand out from the pack. I find it hard to believe that the filmmakers thought that they were making anything more here than a DTV film that would sit on the New Releases shelf for a month or two and then quietly disappear to the weekly section probably never to be heard from again.

    In summary, there ain't much here, folks. This is a prime example of a very boring action movie. Don't buy any of the blurb on the back of the box about this being some sort of martial arts action flick. The martial arts here are pretty thin with some of the most unexciting action and fight scenes I've seen to date. The original Kickboxer with Jean Claude Van Dame is ten times better than this and I'm sorry that I cannot recommend this film for any reason other than to show aspiring filmmakers how not to make an action film. Look elsewhere.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video here is watchable, but very far from any sort of reference quality, which was completely expected.

    This feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is probably very similar to the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (although this could not be confirmed). The feature is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer to DVD of this feature quite frequently lacks clarity and sharpness due to several factors. The film stock used to film this feature was probably not of the highest quality and so what we end up with committed to disc does suffer. Grain is quite prevalent and the colours are far from vibrant and lifelike while blacks are very rarely black and instead take on a navy bluish tinge. Due to the fact that black is very rarely black in this feature, shadow detail is far from what we'd like here, but as much of this feature takes place in well lit locations, we don't miss out on much other than a really good image. Low level noise didn't seem a problem, but grain was fairly excessive as to make it far less noticeable that it normally might have been.

    Colour's use during this feature was mostly of a natural style, but the main problem with the film is the fairly poor rendering of said colour in the final print and its subsequent transfer to DVD. While not a complete write-off, this is a fairly lacklustre (a word that comes up quite a bit in regards to this film) affair with an image that looks washed out and slightly faded at times. For a film of this youth, I would have expected better.

    This disc presents the programme at an average bitrate of approximately 5.48 Mbps with very little reactivity in terms of compression. The disc is formatted as a single layer, but considering the length of the feature this didn't present any major problems. We have a reasonably clean print in terms of film artefacts, but grain is rather prevalent during much of the feature (for example at 31:56) and is quite noticeable on solid light coloured areas seen during the film. Aliasing is a bit of an issue here, but this is so far from quality both in technical terms as well as in terms of cinema that the fact that almost anything with a straight edge or line shimmered a bit didn't really bother me.

    This feature presented only one subtitle stream, that being English for the Hearing Impaired. This serves the film well without being word for word.

    This disc is formatted single layer and as such, there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio for this feature works, but is fairly uninspiring.

    There is only one audio option, that being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    For the most part, the dialogue is understandable, but the quality of the recording isn't quite the best we've seen (or more correctly heard) and considering the quality of the video this isn't a surprise. Ordinary ADR is fairly evident throughout the feature, as are some poor recordings such as that heard at 13:09 where you can clearly hear the echo of the dialogue through the soundstage where this picture was filmed. Fairly sloppy. Other than the regular obvious ADR, audio sync wasn't a real problem.

    At the start of this picture, I got the impression that the music would be better than the average DTV feature...but then I began to notice something: the music I was hearing wasn't exactly original. While the music for this feature is credited to Marc Ouellette (The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four), what I was hearing was some of the music composed by Don Davis for the 1999 Wachowski Bros. classic The Matrix. The music I was hearing was the same as that heard at the beginning where Trinity is being chased across the rooftops by the Agents. This musical passage only went for a short time (and can be heard at 8:20), but as I know the score for The Matrix quite well, this one stuck out like the proverbial. Contrast this with the standard music heard during the rest of this film (see 23:12 for a comparison) and you can easily tell that these two opposing musical passages come from different composers. I'm surprised that the filmmakers got away with this. For the most part the music for this film is in total keeping with the quality of the rest of the film. Pretty ordinary.

    This isn't the most dynamic or active of 5.1 tracks and the surrounds as well as the LFE channel took on a totally supporting role during the film, never taxing any of the speakers in anything more than the most simple fashion. The rears play their atmospheric part and the LFE channel backs up the sounds from the mains, but that's about it.

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

Extras

    The pickings are slim here, so don't get too excited.

Menu

    After the usual distributor's logos and copyright warnings, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The menus are silent and static with 16x9 enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer   -   1:54

    The usual trailer that accompanies these things and probably the same sort of thing that we see at the start of DTV videos such as Critical Mass. What you see is what you get. Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

     This film has already received a video release in Region 1 in September 2001, just one day before the terror attacks that stunned the world. No surprise then that it didn't attract much attention.

     The Region 4 disc of this film misses out on:

     The Region 1 disc of this film misses out on:

     There isn't much to recommend one version over the other, but if the Region 1 disc does indeed turn out to lack 16x9 enhancement then this would make the Region 4 disc the clear version. Until this clarification, I'd call this one a draw.

Summary

     There is little here to recommend this film. Perhaps the only saving grace of this film is that it is so glaringly bad that it does provide the odd laugh or two from time to time. Otherwise, if you are looking for a good movie that will excite and entertain, look elsewhere. There is nothing of note to see here, so pick something else.

     The video is fairly ordinary and while watchable, suffers from excessive grain, poor shadow detail and ordinary colour.

     The audio is just okay.

     The extras consist of one theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Dub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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