Red Skies (2002)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It's fair to say that this presentation is not likely to attract all that many purchases (although the fact it is being touted as John Woo's film may fool some), but as a rental it has plenty to offer the casual fan. The story follows a Chinese undercover operative (Vivian Wu) who has tracked an arch-criminal all the way from China to the USA. When her partner is killed, and her attempt to capture her quarry thwarted by the untimely arrival of a special FBI unit lead by the gruff Malcolm Cross (Shawn Christian), she is forced to team up with her American counterparts in an attempt to track down the gangster.
According to the show's creator, head writer, and executive producer (busy boy then...) John Rogers, the feel of the show was meant to be a cross between a British police show and a Hong Kong action movie. The end result hardly feels all that British, more CSI with kicking, and chasing, and young people (because we all know that gruff guys in their mid-thirties get plum positions as long as they're TV-star good looking). That is not to say that the show is not enjoyable. For all the somewhat obvious script, the charisma of the leads and the ease of slipping into the feel of the show make it a decent enough way to while away an hour and a half. There are a few problems relating to the TV-show origin of the presentation, the most notable being the veritable plethora of characters introduced in only ninety minutes, and the number of open-ended story lines. The biggest of these is the almost supernatural abilities of Agent Cross, which are referred to once, and never so much as mentioned again, much less explained, but there are many smaller ones of the same type. Obviously these are being set up so future episodes could explore them, but with the show not being picked up, they are never going to be explained any further.
Red Skies is an entertaining enough film for the genre, and should serve as a decent rental for those who have run out of "real" movies to watch, or just want some lighter viewing. Note that John Woo's involvement in this one is largely limited to a little story and casting input - this is not a John Woo film as the advertising tries to make you think.
Presented at an aspect ratio of exactly 1.78:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced. There is no information available as to whether or not this was the original aspect ratio, but as it just so happens to be the exact widescreen TV aspect ratio, there is a good chance that it is.
The transfer is not particularly sharp, although this is not really an issue, as it is still nice and clear with plenty of detail. "Smooth" is probably a better description than "soft". There is a reasonable amount of background grain, but it is only particularly noticeable on a few occasions, such as between 0:25 and 0:40. There is no low level noise present.
Colours seem to be a little on the bland side, lacking in any real richness or depth, but this does appear to be on purpose as it is consistent throughout, apart from a few highlights, such as the lighting in the club scene.
There are no compression, film, or film-to-video artefacts present in this transfer. It is one of the cleanest prints you will have the pleasure of viewing (which would hopefully be the case for recent direct-to-video product), and it is not obscured by any visible artefacts - top work.
There are subtitles on this disc, but they're not going to help you understand the dialogue. The only purpose of the subtitles is for location cards and the like, and they hard-set to whichever audio language you choose.
This is a single layered disc, and as such does not contain a layer change.
There are two audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue, and a German dub, both presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps).
Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, although some may have trouble with the strong Asian accent of Vivian Wu (although if you listen carefully she is actually speaking quite clearly). Audio sync is usually not a problem, but on one occasion does go out slightly. That is between 59:59 and 60:39. Aside from that one period, there are no problems.
The score is provided by Frankie Blue, and is typical TV fare, neither disgracing nor outdoing itself. It is of a somewhat "modern" style, but never draws attention to itself, although the action sequence scoring is a little lacklustre.
Surround presence swings between good during action scenes and some of the more dramatic moments and quite poor for the rest of the time, but as this is fairly typical of TV shows, there is little to complain about.
The subwoofer seems to be a little short-changed in this one, with fewer rumbles than would normally be expected, but again, this is probably due to the TV origins of the material. It would have been nice had the bass been boosted a little for DVD release however.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is very good, and about the only thing that can be said in the negative is that it is not the sharpest image ever committed to DVD.
The audio quality is about what is expected of a TV series brought to DVD. The "5.1" mix plays more like a "2.0 surround", and the music is rather run-of-the-mill, but it does its job.
A solitary extra is probably par for the course for a discarded TV pilot that no-one has ever heard of, but it won't stop me from complaining about it.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|