Shiner (2000)

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Released 4-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 95:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (31:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Irvin
IAC Films
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Michael Caine
Frances Barber
Martin Landau
Andy Serkis
Frank Harper
Claire Rushbrook
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Paul Grabowsky

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Shiner is a fairly entertaining film starring Michael Caine as a low-rent boxing promoter (not a lot of people know that).

    Billy "Shiner" Simpson (Caine) has never really been accepted as a mainstream boxing promoter, always existing on the shady side of the law, with a reputation for arranging unlicensed fights. Today, Billy is preparing to celebrate the greatest day of his life. His son Eddie "Golden Boy" Simpson is about to box for a world title and Billy has managed to score satellite TV coverage which stands to make him pretty wealthy - provided of course that Eddie wins the bout. The day does not, however, progress as planned...

    His daughter Georgie (Frances Barber) turns up with a couple of police in tow. They want to arrest him for the death of a fighter in an illegal fight put on by Billy. To make matters worse, his son seems to be having serious doubts about his ability to win the fight - which means Billy stands to lose just about everything he owns. When Eddie does indeed lose the fight, Billy undertakes a furious search to find out if it was thrown deliberately, and if so, who was behind it all. He makes use of his street-smarts, learned over a lifetime of ducking and diving, and is ably assisted by his two bouncers Stoney (Frank Harper) and Mel (Andy Serkis, Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers). This leads to a gritty tale of revenge, and a bloody trail of bodies across the London streets.

    Shiner provides a couple of hours of slightly bloody enjoyment. Whilst there are some quite violent scenes in the film (both within and without the boxing ring), it is primarily a character-driven story about the desperate need for Billy to finally make the big-time and be recognised as the great talent he believes himself to be. It also manages to sneak in a bit of Cockney-styled black humour from time to time. Caine puts in a believable performance as the charming, yet menacing Shiner, ably supported by a raft of familiar faces (Martin Landau and Claire Rushbrook join those already mentioned above). It is interesting to see Andy Serkis in one of his final roles before the international fame that portraying Gollum brought him - he is damned good too. Recommended as a rental for fans of the always watchable Caine, boxing, or gritty urban British drama.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is generally rather good. The occasional video inserts are understandably of a lesser quality. The film is presented 16x9 enhanced in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which is altered from its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The overall transfer is reasonably sharp and without significant grain, although some of the indoor shots do look a little hazy from time to time - the hotel room being used for the post-match celebrations for instance. Black levels are satisfactory and shadow detail is always acceptable, with very little low level noise evident. Colours are well rendered, although the cool British climate and London setting do tend to feel rather cold. Primary colours (such as the red coat worn by Georgie, or the occasional tree) are sparse but solid and without colour bleed. Skin tones are perfectly natural.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts present. The transfer does suffer from some recurrent but mild aliasing, with examples visible at 5:49 on the wall, 18:08 on the buildings and pipes and 23:00 on our old friend car chrome. Edge enhancement is occasionally present but was never really distracting. Examples can be found around Caine at 06:46 , the black coats at 13:00 and the policeman at 58:16.

    Film artefacts crop up fairly often as a series of minor flecks and specks, but are generally only present briefly and do not really cause offence.

    The English for the Hard of Hearing subtitles are well timed and legible, dropping only a small amount of the dialogue for the sake of brevity. There are suitable cues for audio effects and musical accompaniment.

    This disc is in a single sided and dual layered RSDL format, with the layer change cropping up quite early in the piece at 31:35. It is noticeable but not overly disruptive, being placed just leading into a scene change when there is no dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is serviceable to good, with no major deficiencies noted.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 kbps. It is clean and clear throughout, with no pops and dropouts to be heard. Dialogue was always clear, although the strong London accents may prove a test for some. There were no notable faults with audio sync. I also sampled the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack (encoded at 224 kbps), and whilst it is perfectly serviceable, it lacks the warmth of its 5.1 sibling.

    The haunting whistling and double bass original music is credited to Paul Grabowsky (Siam Sunset). Its jazzy lounge music feel is well-suited to the vibe of the film, matching the tuxedos and stretch limousines of the boxing world and forming a stark contrast to some of the frenetic violence. The inclusion of the Andy Williams song For Once in My Life adds a cheeky showbiz feel, too. A nice piece of work overall.

    The soundstage feels very frontal most of the time, albeit with some reasonable spread across the front speakers. There are some good front soundstage panning effects, and the occasional localised effect (the gunshot at 53:02 for instance). Whilst the front speakers do the majority of the work, the surround speakers do carry a fair amount of subtle ambient noise, but are only really noticeable during the various fight scenes (for instance at 38:48) or when there is a lot of road traffic present. Frequently they are silent and the transition from silent to active can sometimes be a little jarring. There are no real directional effects from front to rear, and I spotted nothing in the way of localised effects in the surround channels.

    The subwoofer adds some bass to the musical backing - the double bass of the theme music features most frequently. There are few LFE effects, but the car crash at 67:24 does give the subwoofer a reasonable kick. Overall, however, it is used fairly subtly.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are a couple of extras present.


    The main menu is a nicely animated video of Caine getting a little cross, with a haunting whistling and double bass soundtrack. It allows the options of playing the feature, selecting one of sixteen chapter stops, audio and subtitle selection or watching the following extra features:


    The trailer runs for 2:01 and is presented letterboxed at approximately 1.85:1 (and therefore not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

Making Of...

    This is a reasonable behind the scenes featurette, with the producer, director and stars providing a bit of insight into their motivations and some of the techniques used in making the film. Running for a reasonable 19:52 it is is presented fullscreen (1.33:1) intercut with scenes from the movie letterboxed at 2.28:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps. Interestingly, the original idea for the film was borrowed from King Lear. Worth a watch, but probably only once.

R4 vs R1

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

    Hmmm... a bit tricky this one. This movie appears to be available on DVD in Region 1 in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (although some reviewers report that it is actually presented at 2.13:1). Reports also suggest that it does not include a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer, despite the case labelling. It is however missing the Making Of featurette. The Region 2 version appears to be identical to our own. Personally, I would suggest buying the Region 4 or Region 2, despite the altered aspect ratio (which looks perfectly framed to me). (Ed. Many would disagree with this, preferring the original aspect ratio above all.)


    Shiner is a welcome return to the form that Michael Caine displayed in (the original) Get Carter. It is not Oscar-winning material, but is a well written and well acted British drama with a touch of black humour and a dash of violence for good measure. Well worth a rental, or possibly even a purchase for collectors of Caine.

    The video transfer is better than average - in fact it is really rather good.

    The audio transfer is serviceable with a great score and no defects.

    There are minimal extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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