xXx: Director's Cut (2002)

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Released 12-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Director
Additional Footage-The End Credit Sequence - Raw & Uncut
Featurette-The Final Chapter: The Death Of Xander
Featurette-Making Of-Starz! On The Set
Featurette-Agent Shavers' Gadget Presentation
Multiple Angles-Multi-Angle Stunts - 2
Trailer-Sneak Peek: xXx : State Of The Union
Trailer-Scene From xXx: State Of The Union
Music Video-"I Will Be Heard" By Hatebreed
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 127:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rob Cohen
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Vin Diesel
Asia Argento
Marton Csokas
Samuel L. Jackson
Michael Roof
Richy Müller
Werner Dähn
Petr Jákl
Jan Pavel Filipensky
Tom Everett
Danny Trejo
Thomas Ian Griffith
Eve
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Glen Ballard
Randy Edelman
Phil Hartnoll


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Hindi
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    In light of the approaching sequel, xXx returns to DVD in its third R4 release, this time as a Director's Cut, boasting eight minutes of extra footage and a new swag of extras including a preview of the already hyped sequel, xXx: State of the Union, and the short snippet The Death of Xander. Is it worth 'upgrading'? I personally don't think so. Read on to find out why . . .

   Firstly, let's discuss the movie. It must be noted that one person dominates xXx - Vin Diesel.

    Vin Diesel is a seriously cool dude. Following his supporting role in Saving Private Ryan, Diesel found fame in Pitch Black. As with any true movie star, Diesel can make an otherwise rather ordinary film exciting and interesting. With his muscular swagger, gravelly voice, wry one-liners and laid-back style, Diesel's presence alone made The Fast and the Furious watchable. If there's any doubt about this, consider the lacklustre sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, that sank quickly without him.

    xXx is a little bit like James Bond meets Tony Hawk. Indeed, lookout for the cameo by Mr. Hawk in xXx. While the Bond-like sexy and dangerous girls and the nihilistic and nasty Villains with henchmen are all still here, the gentleman secret agent risking his life for his country has been replaced for a far more cynical generation in a post 9-11 world.

    Xander Cage (Diesel) is an underground hell-raiser who lives for extreme sports and exhilarating stunts. NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) spots Xander's potential, and believing that Xander can succeed where conventional spies have failed, Xander is forced to cooperate with the U.S. government or else spend a serious amount of time behind bars. As a result, Xander is sent off to Eastern Europe to infiltrate an underground Russian crime ring based in Prague.

    Of course this premise is just to set up the arena for a series of adrenaline-soaked, over-the-top, and completely impossible stunts and action set-pieces. Indeed, what follows resembles a cross between a Pepsi Max commercial and Video Hits . . .

    xXx was initially released as a Collector's Edition in April 2003, reviewed here, and as a Superbit DVD in December 2003, reviewed here. So what's different between this Director's Cut and the theatrical cut used for the previous two releases? There are eight minutes of footage edited back into the movie. Released in R1 as the Unrated, Uncensored version, one might be expecting the extra eight minutes to be scenes that were cut to get a more family friendly theatrical rating. But this is not so. Apart from one scene of three girls sleeping nude in bed, and an extended pole dancing scene (both of which are available in the deleted scenes of the initial R4 DVD), there are no new raunchy or violent additions. The extra eight minutes is made up by slightly extending some of the scenes, and with some new scenes with more dialogue. For example, there's now a completely unnecessary and cheesy scene on a commercial plane with Xander talking to a boy. It's obvious why this boring and superfluous scene was cut in the first place - 'yawn'.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is very good. It was a pleasure to watch this DVD on both a widescreen television and projected against a large screen. Indeed, if you can watch this DVD with a projector I encourage you to do so as it really enhances the scope of the film, especially the over-the-top stunts.

    The transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is generally very good. For example consider the detail in the faces, and the subtle pattern on the shirt and tie at 30:14, or the detailed exterior shot of Prague at 33:49. Occasionally the sharpness is adversely affected by film grain. The black level is excellent. The shadow detail seems to vary. At times the picture seems to have a high contrast and some dark scenes have zero shadow detail, such as the interior of the unit at 10:18 or the barn interior at 19:40. At other times, such as the shadowy plane interior at 33:10, the shadow detail is excellent. I assume this was an artistic choice, and perhaps the result of digital grading.

    The colour is excellent throughout, with a well-saturated colour palette and accurate skin tones.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts, but various film stocks appear to have been used, and some of the source material suffers from excess grain. Indeed, many of the scenes are just swimming in grain. There are no problems with film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing, although there is a slight shimmer on some objects here and there. A few minute film artefacts, such as tiny white flecks, appear infrequently throughout. Occasionally some edge enhancement is noticeable, but I never found it distracting.

    English, Dutch, Hindi, English for the Hearing Impaired, English Audio Commentary, and Dutch Audio Commentary subtitles are provided. The subtitles are player generated, and mostly appear in the 'black bar' at the bottom of the screen which is a nice touch. The only issue I found was at 35:44 when two sets of subtitles for the same dialogue appeared. The English subtitles are slightly simplified, but are a pretty accurate reflection of what's been said on screen.

    This is a Dual-Layer disc with the layer change placed at 84:41. On my DVD player, the layer change was not noticeable at all, and I had to use DVD ROM software to locate it.

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

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Digital, dts, and SDDS, there are only two audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital Stereo Surround (192Kb/s). Considering that xXx's last DVD release had a dts track, I was hoping for that option to be here as well. A dts track would have also made the package a little more attractive to buy.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Considering that a lot of the dialogue is looped, for the most part it all sounds very natural, and unless you're looking for faults, you won't find any.

    The movie's orchestral musical score is credited to Randy Edelman, but it is the film's source music, from the likes of German Techno-Metal band Rammstein that really grab the listener's attention. There is also a lot of thrash and trance music throughout, which suits the film's mood and tone very well.

    As expected, this movie has a very aggressive surround presence, with plenty of surround activity. The rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score and provide ambience throughout. The very immersive sound stage features a great many split-rear directional effects and panning between speakers throughout, for example the car chase at 7:19 and the helicopters and fire-fight at 21:33.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively throughout, such as the series of ground-shaking explosions between 22:26 and 26:37.

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

Extras

    There are some interesting extras here. Some, no doubt, are designed to lure customers for a third bite of the cherry. Interestingly, the original R4 release had more extras. Unless stated otherwise, all extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Stereo audio.

Menu

    Animated with audio.

Dolby Digital Trailer

    I wouldn't call this an extra,. Indeed, I was quite annoyed at being made to sit through it once again.

Audio Commentary

    Presented in Dolby Digital Stereo Surround (192Kb/s), Director Rob Cohen provides a very passionate commentary. Indeed, Cohen uses the F-word in one of his very first sentences (in describing how good he thought the idea for the story was). Cohen is quite informative, discussing a range of topics from the types of shots used and SFX to the characters and sub-cultures portrayed in the movie.

Additional Footage-The End Credit Sequence - Raw & Uncut

    This merely shows off the graphics of the end credit sequence without the credits.

Featurette-The Final Chapter: The Death Of Xander (4:03)

    This is one of those extras designed to lure the unwary to part with their cash for a third time to buy the same movie. Be warned - this is absolute rubbish.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, this little snippet shows the death of Xander. But for a start, there's no Vin Diesel. Xander is 'played' by stand-in Khristian Lupo, who does not speak, although at one moment there is some looped dialogue taken from xXx.

    So what happens? We see Xander (from behind of course), drive up to his pad with a hot chick. He hears a sound and goes off to investigate. While he's gone a group of special-ops type guys kidnap the girl and leave her coat at his front door. Having found nothing, Xander returns to the car and finds the girl missing, but follows the 'trail' into his unit. There is a big explosion. And in one very gross bit, one of the special-ops guys picks up the burning skin from the back of Xander's head (with the xXx tattoo visible), which has landed on the pavement.

    It's pointless, insulting, and not entertaining at all. It also seems completely stupid. It would have made more sense for the character of Xander to have wandered off to do his own thing - why did the studio feel that they needed to kill him off?

Featurette-Making Of xXx -Starz! On Set (14:32)

    Marketing fluff comprised of some behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

Featurette-Agent Shavers' Gadget Presentation (3:50)

    A quick look at a few of the props in the movie.

Multiple Angles-Multi-Angle Stunts

    At last a genuine extra! This allows viewers to watch either the Exploding Barn Jump or The Bridge Jump from nine camera angles (using the DVD remote).

Sneak Peek: xXx : State Of The Union (3:00)

    A very quick look behind-the-scenes of the making of the sequel. There are also some comments from Ice Cube, who is the new xXx.

Scene From xXx: State Of The Union (1:25)

    Another disappointment. I was hoping for some action, but instead we get a scene of dialogue between Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) and xXx (Ice Cube).

Music Video-"I Will Be Heard" By Hatebreed

R4 vs R1

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

    xXx Director's Cut will be released on DVD in Region 1 as the Unrated, Uncensored Director's Cut on 19 April 2005. Already, it has been nick-named over there as the Unnecessary, Unnecessary Director's Cut.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I would still call it even, especially as we get to enjoy a PAL transfer.

Summary

    xXx has a great attention to detail. The art and set direction, photography, lighting, costumes, stunts, and SFX are all top notch. As long as you don't take the story too seriously, and accept it for what it is, it's a very enjoyable action film.

    As for the DVD, it's not uncommon for DVD studios/distributors to double-dip -- but I think triple-dipping is a bit too much, especially when what's been offered is not worth it.

    I would only suggest buying this DVD if you DON'T already own xXx. Personally, I'd go for the R4 Superbit.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are varied, but disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, April 11, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
State of the Union - Anonymous
is the head butt present in this version - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
xxx directors cut, is cut - Anonymous