Out for a Kill (2003)
Trailer-Half Past Dead, National Security
|Year Of Production||2003|
|Running Time||86:21 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Michael Oblowitz|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
When Steven Seagal burst onto the action scene in 1988 with Above The Law I became an instant devotee. I relished each and every new action vehicle that followed. Marked For Death (the uncut U.S. version is an absolute treat), Hard To Kill, Out For Justice, and Under Siege were all wildly popular and Seagal established himself as an action icon. Then all of a sudden with the release of On Deadly Ground, his box office appeal started to dwindle. Seagal, not content with delivering crowd-pleasing hard-edged action films, started to preach environmental issues through his movies and his fan base diminished and financial returns dried up. He also gained a generous amount of weight and started wearing bizarre clothing to cover his ever-widening waist line. Not all was lost - he still delivered the respectable Under Siege 2, and The Glimmer Man, but the damage was done. With 1998's The Patriot, Seagal started to go 'direct to video'.
Worse was yet to come however, in the form of Ticker, and then the truly awful The Foreigner, both of which went deservedly straight to video shelves. Then, action producer mogul Joel Silver almost single-handedly resurrected Seagal's career like a phoenix from the flames with the box office smash Exit Wounds. Gone was the bizarre clothing, the 'save the forest' motif, and, remarkably, about 20 kilograms from the actor's mid section. Seagal followed this with the reasonably successful, if derivative, Half Past Dead, and it looked like a career revival of Travolta proportions.
Sadly, with the release of Out For A Kill, Seagal is back to square one. This is undoubtedly one of the worst films I have ever seen. It was no surprise to me that the director of this film, Michael Oblowitz is responsible for Seagal's previous worst effort in The Foreigner. I have not seen direction like this since Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space. To start with, the story is incomprehensible and appears to have been put together in post production. Seagal is not shown speaking any of his dialogue - whenever his character is delivering dialogue, the camera is always on the other person. This indicates that the actor looped his entire performance in post-production, which in itself is not unusual. What is unusual is the likely explanation for the odd camera angle selections - the dialogue must have been so radically different to the script that they were unable to show his lip movements because of extreme audio sync difficulties. The rest of the cast are simply atrocious, and would not get a callback for a local high school production let alone a 20 million dollar budgeted film.
What story thread I could fathom involved Seagal (who has gained back the weight) playing an archaeologist who is framed by the Chinese mob for importing drugs. He is sent to prison, gets released with the help of the CIA, and seeks revenge on the mob after they inadvertently kill his wife in a botched assassination attempt.
Unlike The Foreigner, however, there are a few action scenes, but they are incompetently filmed and make no sense. For example, there is a fight between Seagal and a Chinese gang member that you have to see to believe. For no reason at all, the gang member starts climbing walls like Spiderman and behaving like an ape, picking insects out of his hair and eating them. I kid you not! The sad thing is that this is the film's highlight, and it is all downhill from there.
I am actually amazed that director Oblowitz has not donned the Alan Smithee mantle deserving of such cinematic treats. This guy is actually proud of his work!
Seagal simply needs to either get a new agent or take a minor part in a blockbuster like he did in Executive Decision to get his career back on track. In the meantime, avoid Out For A Kill like the plague.
Out For A Kill is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen display devices.
Sharpness levels are fairly strong and I did not notice any aliasing or halo effects. Shadow detail was also reasonable except in a few areas where there were grain problems. At the 21:00 and 34:00 minute marks, the print becomes very grainy and the shadow detail loses depth and perspective. This only lasts a few seconds, but is noteworthy as this is a new film so you would expect a pristine transfer. I also noticed a low level noise problem at the 62:30 minute mark. A sequence where a gentleman is standing behind a wire fence is obscured due to the noise interference. This was the only noise problem spotted.
Colours were natural and well rendered.
For a brand new film, I was surprised to see a fair number of film artefacts throughout the print, but they were non-obtrusive.
Columbia have provided a decent transfer of a god-awful film, better than it deserves.
The film is provided with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.
Dialogue is always clear and there are no dropouts. Now I could devote hours discussing the audio sync problems in this film, but as they are intentional I do not deem it a disc fault.
The musical score is totally forgettable, and thankfully unobtrusive.
Surround channel usage is decent with a wide array of directional effects giving your rear speakers a solid workout.
The subwoofer adds the appropriate depth to the soundfield.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Both the R1 and R4 versions are the same.
Being a fan of Seagal's early work, it pains me to see the big guy appearing in such an awful film. There is not one aspect of the film I can recommend, but as an optimist hopefully we will see a return to form before too long. The DVD is acceptable in both image and sound quality, but there are basically no extras. As I stated earlier, avoid this film unless you like inflicting self-harm.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||LG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony HT-K215.|