V.I. Warshawski (1991)

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Released 18-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 85:12
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jeff Kanew
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Kathleen Turner
Jay O. Sanders
Charles Durning
Angela Goethals
Nancy Paul
Frederick Coffin
Charles McCaughan
Stephen Meadows
Wayne Knight
Lynnie Godfrey
Anne Pitoniak
Stephen Root
Robert Clotworthy
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Randy Edelman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Portuguese
Dutch
French Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    V.I. Warshawski, based on the character created in the novels of Sara Paretsky, was hyped up as a "feminist" detective film when it was first released. Not only did it feature a female private detective, but she was as tough talking and acting as her counterparts. She wasn't deliberately out to prove that she was more masculine than any other man, but she does want the world to respect her for who she is and what she does and not because of her gender.

    In the film, we get to see V.I. (Kathleen Turner) being beaten up, shot at, even punched in the face. And she is as rough in her personal life as well: she is not afraid of picking up men and her fridge at home can compete with any bachelor in its collection of mouldy leftover food.

    At the beginning, we see V.I. (it is later revealed in the film that "V" stands for Victoria, or "Vicky") waking up after another long and lonely night, and during the day we see her refusing yet another client whose reason for wanting to hire her turns out to be more to do with her gender and looks than her ability. She then picks up a man at a bar, Bernard 'Boom-Boom' Grafalk (Stephen Meadows), a former ice hockey player. Boom-boom asks V.I. to baby-sit his daughter Kat (Angela Goethals) but then gets himself killed.

    V.I. decides to investigate the reasons for his death, with the aid of Kat, and soon gets caught up in a web of intrigue involving Boom-Boom's brothers and business partners, the union, the local mob, the police and an investigative reporter called Murray Ryerson (Jay O. Sanders).

    This film wasn't as enjoyable as I thought it would be. It can't seem to decide whether to emphasize the gritty world of private investigators, or to make a feminist statement, or just play it for laughs. It tries to do a combination of all three, and ends up being rather clichéd - coming across as a cheap combination of Beverly Hills Cop plus Phillip Marlowe dressed up as a woman. Just to make sure the men aren't turned off by the feminist message, the film spends a lot of time focusing on close-ups of Kathleen's beautiful legs. At the end of the film, all I remembered were the legs, the high heels and the Axel F brand of wisecracks.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    We get a widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer in the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The transfer is quite decent, and the film source is relatively clean with only minimal amounts of grain. Edge enhancement is also kept to reasonable levels, with only minor haloing observable.

    Detail levels are quite good, but somewhat obscured by persistent minor amounts of Gibbs effect ringing in the background (and also barely noticeable during the opening titles.

    Colour saturation is good, although the overall look is ever-so-slightly on the brownish side.

    There are quite a few subtitle tracks available: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Portuguese, Dutch, French Titling, and Spanish Titling. I turned on both English and the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle tracks briefly. The dialogue transcription accuracy is average for the former, and slightly better for the latter (which also includes description of Foley effects).

    This is a single sided single layered disc.

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

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).

    Since the original sound mix for the theatrical release was in Dolby Stereo, it appears that the the soundtrack has been re-encoded into Dolby Digital 5.1.

    I was surprised that the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s was used for the English audio track. The audio transfer is quite solid, with clear dialogue throughout although the overall sound is a bit dated (sounding a bit "digital" and bland, like many early CDs).

    I did not notice any issues with dialogue synchronization.

    Surround usage is mainly confined to ambience from background music and some atmospheric effects. I did not notice any significant instance of Foley effects being directed towards the surround channels.

    The LFE channel is lightly utilised and mainly used to support low synthesizer drones in the music score and the occasional explosion.

    The original music score is by Randy Edelman and consists of upbeat synthesizer based instrumental pop, sounding eerily like the soundtrack from the Beverly Hills Cop set of films.

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

Extras

    There are no extras. The menus are 16x9 enhanced but static (and available in several languages).

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Region 4 wins due to the remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks, although it would have been nice to see some extras as well.

Summary

    V.I. Warshawski is a film based on the female private investigator featured in Sara Paretsky's novels, starring Kathleen Turner. It was a bit disappointing, which explains why no sequels have been made (yet).

    The video transfer is above average.

    The audio transfer is also above average.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, December 15, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLinn Unidisk 2.1, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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