Den of Lions (2003)

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Released 9-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 98:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Bruce
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Stephen Dorff
Bob Hoskins
Laura Fraser
Ian Hart
David O'Hara
Sarah Ann Schultz
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


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 Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   Set in the dark world of organised crime in current Eastern Europe, Den Of Lions is an enjoyable thriller with the feel of a John Le Carre story.

   Mike Varga (Stephen Dorff) is an FBI Agent with a Hungarian background. He is sent undercover behind the former Iron Curtain to Budapest to infiltrate the organised crime syndicate of Russian Mafia run by Darius Paskevik (Bob Hoskins).

    Varga's mission is complicated, however, when he meets Katya (Laura Fraser), Darius' gorgeous and smart daughter. Katya is beginning to question her father's business, and is also beginning to fall for Varga. Darius is growing increasingly suspicious, and Varga's FBI Agent partner, Rob Shepard (Ian Hart) looks like he might blow Varga's cover. On his high moral horse, Shepard sees everything in black and white, whereas Varga seems to see things in shades of grey. As an audience, we're never really sure exactly whose side Varga's on, and this makes for good drama.

    The film is shot on location, and the scenery, stunts, and performances by the leading actors are excellent. The story moves along at a good pace, and the only thing I found annoying was the constant use of jump-cuts and varying film speeds. This technique in editing can be very effective, but when it's constant, it becomes a little annoying, even adversely affecting the continuity of the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, the transfer is good.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    Generally the sharpness is good, but there are some soft shots, such as at 20:11 or 31:03. The black level is good, but the shadow detail is usually poor, such as the dark shots at 11:27 or 24:00.

    The colour is good, but the film often features very drab and desaturated tones which suits the film's sombre atmosphere.

    There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts, but some scenes are very grainy. I assume this is noticeable due to the use of different film stocks. Small film artefacts appear throughout, and there is also the odd scratch and hair visible on the source print.

    There are no subtitles on this dual layered disc. I did not spot the layer change.

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

Audio

    There are two audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine.

    The musical score is credited to Ron Hay, and it is a dramatic orchestral score, the style of which is seemingly influenced by the work of the great Bernard Herrmann.

    There is surround presence and activity throughout, which tends to be quite subtle. For example, the rears provide ambience, such as during the rain at 8:10, and support the score, such as at 11:12. The subwoofer is also used to support the effects, such as the gunshots.

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

Extras

    There are a few extras.

Menu

    Animated with audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:53)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Featurette-Making Of (7:16)

    A very short promotional piece, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    I can find no reference anywhere to this DVD being released in R1.

Summary

    For those who like espionage thrillers, Den Of Lions is an enjoyable film to rent.

    Overall, the video quality is good.

    The audio quality is also good.

    The extras are slim.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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