Sweeney! (1977)

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Released 8-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 92:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Wickes
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring John Thaw
Dennis Waterman
Barry Foster
Ian Bannen
Colin Welland
Diane Keen
Michael Coles
Joe Melia
Brian Glover
Lynda Bellingham
Morris Perry
Paul Angelis
Nick Brimble
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Denis King


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Sweeney was a TV series that grew out of a teleplay called Regan that screened in 1974. The series itself ran from 1974 to 1978. The Sweeney revolves around two members of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad: Regan (John Thaw) and Carter (Dennis Waterman). The Flying Squad deals with criminals in the act of committing crimes, where violence is often met with violence. Rhyming slang for Flying Squad is Sweeney Todd (the Demon Barber of Fleet Street), hence the name of the series, guv'nor.

    In this feature spin-off from the TV series, a young woman (Lynda Bellingham) is murdered in a hotel room. It seems she has been having a relationship with the Secretary of State for Energy (Ian Bannen, who has very little to do in this role). His PR adviser (Barry Foster, sporting a terrible American accent) arranges to cover up the death. But the girl was also sleeping with Ronnie Brent, one of Regan's underworld informers. Brent convinces Regan that there was something suspicious about the girl's death, and Regan's investigations lead him into the usual tangled political/criminal web.

    The Sweeney was well known for phrases like "shut it" and "you're nicked", both of which get a run in the first twenty minutes. It was also noted for the level of violence, which was higher than most TV shows of the era. This film is no exception, though a lot of the violence is implied, accentuated by the use of handheld cameras.

    This film feels like an extended episode of the TV series. Little time is spent on character development, with the filmmakers assuming you know who the heroes are and what they do. Not that that is a bad thing, given that the characters were pretty one-dimensional in the first place. Also, the TV series was shot entirely on film, so when translated to the big screen it looks pretty much the same, unlike other feature film spin-offs. Perhaps the violence is somewhat more explicit, but not by much.

    There is very little I can say about the direction or the acting, as it is much the same as the TV series, so if you liked it, you will like this film. Garfield Morgan, who played the Chief Super Frank Haskins in the pilot and series, is missing from this film. The magazine editor is played by Colin Welland, who a few years later won an Oscar for the screenplay of Chariots of Fire.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I do not think that this is the correct aspect ratio. Judging from the opening credits, the film has been cropped to fit into a wider screen format. I also noticed a few instances of the tops of heads being lopped off. The Region 2 release is in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, which I would conclude is the correct aspect ratio.

    The transfer is reasonably sharp, although it could have been better. There is little edge enhancement, and the print is a bit grainy, so the level of sharpness is lower than in a lot of contemporary films. Still, this is quite serviceable. Shadow detail is also reasonable. Typical for the TV series, everything is brightly lit.

    Colour is also typical of the TV series, which I recall as always looking a little washed out and colourless. There are very few bright colours in this film, but when they are shown they look realistic. Flesh tones are also handled well.

    There is some aliasing present, most noticeably at the start of the film during a pan down the front of a building, but apart from that it is held in check. Film artefacts are less of a problem than I would have expected from this source, with the occasional white spot, some bits of dirt and the rare scratch.

    The film is presented on a single layered disc. No subtitles are provided.

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

Audio

    The film is given a reasonable audio transfer.

    The single audio track is in Dolby Digital 2.0 format.

    Dialogue is easy to hear and understand, though the dynamic range of the soundtrack is limited. This results in a slightly tinny sound at times, but it is not distracting to any major extent as the ear soon adjusts.

    The music score is by Denis King, and being exactly the sort of background music you would have heard on the TV series, it is ideal for the film. The theme tune from the series is noticeably absent, for reasons unknown.

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

Extras

    No extras are provided.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film is also available in both Region 1 and Region 2, in each case paired with Sweeney 2.

    It is a bit difficult to find out any definite information about the Region 2 release. I have not been able to determine even whether this is a single disc or two disc release. According to one vendor, the aspect ratio is 1.66:1, which is probably the original aspect ratio.

    The Region 1 release is a two-disc set with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. If this is correct, it is even more cropped than the Region 4 version.

    On the balance of probabilities, the Region 2 would be the version of choice.

Summary

    While this is no great shakes as a standalone feature film, if you are a fan of the series you will enjoy it.

    The video quality is quite good.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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