The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-AFTRS Film: Bound
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 89:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gerard Kennedy
Michael Preston
Peter Hehir
Dennis Miller
Michael Caton
Steve Rackman
Michael Duffield
Steve Bisley
Stewart Faichney
Sean Myers
Gerry Duggan
Ross Skiffington
Les James
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Bruce Smeaton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, some action during end credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Near the remote mining town of Andamooka, a group of wildcat miners work hard and play hard. Most are happy with just that, but Pansy (Michael Preston) is only interested in number one, and won't take lip from anyone. It's up to the boss of the gang, the "knuckleman" Tarzan (Gerard Kennedy) to keep the peace.

    Based on a 1973 play by John Powers, director and scriptwriter Tim Burstall has opened up the action considerably, with some good location shooting in the actual town of Andamooka and the South Australian desert. The scenes in the bunkhouse more obviously have their origins on the stage, but even so an enjoyable film was fashioned out of this now somewhat dated play.

    The performances by an ensemble cast are very good. The nominal star is Kennedy, but much of the time he is an off-screen presence. Preston is convincing as the nasty piece of work Pansy, while there is some fine work by the supporting cast which includes Steve Bisley and Michael Caton, both of whom look very young here. And cast in the brief role of "Whore" is Denise Drysdale. At least it's better than being "Second Whore".

    This film hangs together better than most of the Hexagon films, with an even tone throughout and builds well to a satisfying climax involving wrestler/actor Steve Rackman. Sadly, this was the last film produced by Hexagon.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The aspect ratio chosen for this transfer was 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. I expect that the original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    This transfer looks slightly better than the others in the Hexagon Tribute Collection. The film is quite sharp. There is a good level of detail visible and shadow detail is also good, though there are few opportunities for this to be a problem.

    Colour is good, although as usual with these transfers the red and green colours seem to be more vivid than other colours. Flesh tones are too red for my liking. There is some low level noise, but blacks are generally solid.

    Film to video artefacts are limited to some aliasing, but this appears only infrequently.

    Film artefacts are present. Most of the artefacts are dirt or minor debris, with occasional white flecks. However, there are a few sequences where there is a lot of damage occurring in parts of the video, as though the print has been scratched during projection. The film is a little grainy, but not excessively so.

    Optional English subtitles are available, and like all of these discs they are in large white font and positioned in relation to the speaker. They also have hearing impaired information. They seem to be accurate to the spoken word and well-timed from the sample I looked at.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer break placed at 54:46 at a scene change. It is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks: a default Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. I listened to the default track and sampled the other.

    The major difference between the two tracks is the positioning of the dialogue. In the 5.1 version it comes from the centre channel, and in the 2.0 it sounds centred, but seems a little more forward in the mix. I did not notice any rear channel effects. The only low frequency effects I noticed were caused by the drilling rig, and even then I did not notice any subwoofer activity.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, and generally this is a serviceable if unremarkable audio transfer with no detectable problems. Audio sync is excellent.

    The music score is by Bruce Smeaton, and is innocuous to the extent that I did not notice much of it, apart from the theme song. This has banjos and harmonica, and an indecipherable gravelly voice not sounding dissimilar to a didgeridoo.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has audio from the score.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    Hopefully the last time I have to watch this for a while.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (20:38)

    Interviews with the writer John Powers, Gerard Kennedy, Dan Burstall (though the menu says "Bustall"), Tom Burstall and Michael Caton, who has a couple of humorous stories to tell. Both the menu and the case say Steve Bisley is interviewed - if he was, it didn't make it to this DVD.

Theatrical Trailer (0:28)

    I'd barely gotten into this 1.33:1 trailer when it was over.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    Detailed biography and filmography of the director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Here we get lengthy filmographies of Kennedy, Preston, Peter Hehir, Dan Burstall, Edward McQueen-Mason, and Byron Kennedy.

Gallery-Photo (2:09)

    A sequence of publicity stills from the film.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: Bound (7:18)

    A short film from students of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. It has a fairly predictable storyline but is well put-together. Made in 2000, it is letterboxed at 1.66:1 though the introductory screen says 1.22:1.

R4 vs R1

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

    Region 4 seems to have the film to itself.

Summary

    An entertaining film from Hexagon, even if it is nothing out of the ordinary plot-wise.

    The video and audio quality are reasonable.

    A good little extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, December 13, 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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
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