Prey of the Jaguar (1996)

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Released 6-Feb-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-Mindfield, Martial Law, Martial Law 2 - Undercover
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 85:59 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David DeCoteau
Studio
Distributor
Hit Entertainment
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Maxwell Caulfield
Stacy Keach
Linda Blair
Trevor Goddard
Paul Regina
Paul Bartel
Tom Badal
Fiona Hutchison
Steven Vincent Leigh
John Fujioka
Vincent Klyn
Devon Michael
Benjamin Gates Jr.
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Jeffrey Walton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 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

Short review

    This film is dreadful. Don't bother.

Long review

    This film is dreadful.

    The script is a poorly constructed list of clichés (Rory Johnston should be utterly ashamed of himself). The exposition scenes are horribly obvious, with characters explaining things to one another for no apparent reason. The dialogue would be sent back for a rewrite even on a daily soap opera. And the character development is pathetic.

    The acting is wooden, but I think some of the actors are doing their best with the appalling script. Trevor Goddard (probably best known for appearing on JAG) chews the scenery as an over-the-top villain. Maxwell Caulfield (perhaps most renowned as the male lead in the awful Grease 2) looks uncomfortable as the hero, and is really bad at depicting the emotions he's asked to convey. Stacy Keach looks uncomfortable, too — I wonder who he owed money to?

    The fight scenes are probably the greatest let-down — I could have forgiven a bad plot if the fight scenes were decent, but they are horrible. Badly choreographed, poor stunt-work, and lousy special effects — this film could serve as a teaching aid, showing what not to do. And someone should show them a video of real t'ai-chi.

    The cinematography (hard to dignify it with that term) is poor. For some reason the director (David DeCoteau, who is so proud of his work he has directed under the names: Julian Breen, Ellen Cabot, Victoria Sloan, Jack Reed, and others...) and director of photography (Howard Wexler, who should know better!) seem to think that rocking the camera slowly from one side to the other is stylish, or something — it rapidly gets very annoying (or nauseating), but it seems to be their only idea, because they use it so much.

    If you really must know what the plot is: a secret agent for SOC, a government agency that is apparently more than a little unaccountable, infiltrated the Banderas, a crime family that runs drugs. He brought down Damien Bandera (Trevor Goddard), and sent him to prison for quite some time. Damien is quite annoyed by this because it caused his father to have a heart attack and die. That secret agent went into a witness protection programme, assumed the name Derek Leigh (Maxwell Caulfield), and "disappeared". Now it is 8 years later, Bandera has escaped, and he is looking for Leigh. Leigh assures his wife (Fiona Hutchison) that they are safe, even after they are warned by the Commander of SOC (Stacy Keach). He is wrong. After Bandera catches up with them, but fails to kill Leigh, we have the usual tortured feelings of guilt scenes (poorly acted by Maxwell Caulfield), followed by the standard training / preparations for revenge scenes (featuring training by Master Yee (John Fujioka)), followed by the tracking down the bad guys scenes, and then the climactic battle. We've seen it all before, but done better.

    There are lots of flaws to point at in this film, but I've already spent more words on it than it is worth. It's a badly made effort, and worse, it's boring. I can sum it up in one short sentence:

    Don't bother.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of about 1.30:1 (yup, narrower than a standard TV screen), and not 16x9 enhanced. It appears to have been made for video, or possibly as a cable TV telemovie. I did wonder if it was supposed to be the pilot for a TV series that was never made (understandably). Either way, it looks like it was made for an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, so this presentation is about right.

    The image is fairly sharp. Shadow detail is limited — darker shades drop off into black far too quickly. Film grain does not appear to be a big problem. There is no significant low-level noise.

    Colour isn't bad, but comes across as dull. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are a few small film artefacts: spots, flecks, and chips; but they are generally untroubling.

    There is plenty of aliasing but only hints of moiré, and there are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are no subtitle tracks.

    The disc is single-sided and single layered. That means no layer change. The shortness of the film means that there was no need to compress this too heavily, although there are a couple of spots that look a bit over-compressed.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is only provided in English. Strangely, it is Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded) at 448 kbps — that's an awfully high bit rate for a (supposedly) stereo soundtrack. There's nothing significant in the way of stereo separation — this could well be a mono soundtrack. You won't need surround speakers or a subwoofer for this one.

    The dialogue is clear enough and easy to understand, at least in terms of what words are being uttered. There are no obvious audio sync problems.

    Jeff Walton's score is not particularly good, being rather too heavy on the synthesizers. There's not a lot of originality involved, either.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and silent, and features only Play and Trailers.

Trailers

    We're given three trailers (none of them for this movie), each individually selectable from the menu:

    Note: the menu entry for Martial Law plays the trailer for Martial Law II, and vice versa.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can ascertain, this has not been released on DVD in Region 1.

Summary

    A truly dreadful film on a bare-bones DVD.

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are irrelevant to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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