The Great White Hype (1996)

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Released 4-Feb-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 86:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Reginald Hudlin
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Jeff Goldblum
Peter Berg
Corbin Bernsen
Jon Lovitz
Cheech Marin
John Rhys-Davies
Salli Richardson
Jamie Foxx
Rocky Carroll
Albert Hall
Susan Gibney
Michael Jace
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Marcus Miller
Method Man


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
French
German
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Satire's a funny thing. It can be so subtle it's barely noticed, slipping between the ribs to skewer the heart of its target. It can be gentle, prodding at its subject's foibles in a friendly, playful manner. It can be finely crafted to require a response from its target, out of outrage or shame. Or it can be as subtle as an alleyway mugging, showing a level of outrage so over the top and without direction that it alienates its subject less than its audience.

    The Great White Hype was last seen hiding in the shadows with a pillowcase full of doorknobs.

    The movie's story harkens back to a time in the 1980s when Mike Tyson ruled professional boxing's heavyweight division, and not only seemed invincible, but it looked as though none of his challengers had the remotest chance of knocking him off his perch. In Hype, Damon Wayans plays the unlikeliest invincible heavyweight champion in recent memory who has apparently, so far, conquered all before him. As James "the Grim Reaper" Roper, he has fallen into the decadent lifestyle that comes with success, and under the thrall of Samuel L. Jackson's managerial Svengali, the Reverend Jim Sultan, settles into the bling bling lifestyle that he feels is his due.

    Faced with declining fight attendances and pay per view revenues after so many one-sided bouts, Sultan (who, in the words of The Simpsons, is "exactly as rich and as famous as Don King, and he looks just like him, too") looks to play up a race angle in the next match by hunting down the one person who beat Roper in his amateur days - Terry Conklin.

    Although Conklin (unexceptionally portrayed by Peter Berg) is a drugged-out pacifist who would rather sing death metal with his band than strap on the gloves, he agrees to do it in exchange for a large charitable donation, and after stopping to co-opt a crusading independent journalist (Jeff Goldblum) to act as Conklin's manager, the fight is on - to the disgust of the one legitimate challenger, Michael Jace.

    From here, the movie seems to play itself out, stopping to make the obvious jokes and cheap shots at the same soft targets that boxing fans have been groaning about for decades - corrupt officials, the triumph of marketing over reality, and so forth - until the movie seems to run out of steam, and sputters to a fairly predictable conclusion.

    The script is weak, the satire is overdone and (with the exception of John Rhys-Davies, Jon Lovitz and Cheech Marin in small but excellent roles) the acting is dreadful. But oddly, I still found myself enjoying the flick immensely in spite of itself. There's something cheerfully mindless about a movie that expects its audience to take a Wayans brother seriously as a heavyweight champion (and a superior actor he is - after all, to show that he's fat and unfit, Wayans prances around with his gut pushed out as far as he can, trusting purely in his acting talent to convince us that he's gained thirty pounds, where weaker actors such as Robert De Niro would have actually had to go out and put on weight), that isn't afraid to let all its performances feel hokey and forced and that seems to hold itself happily in contempt. It's a movie you mightn't set out to buy, but is certainly a worthwhile rental when six-weeklies-for-six-dollars night rolls around at the local video library. Enjoy this one with beer and pizza - just don't make the mistake of expecting too much out of it, and treat the movie on its own terms.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is shown in its original 1.85:1 ratio.

    Although the transfer is quite sharp, with sharp lines and good detail in the shadows, a problem with grain persists throughout the picture, which while it's not a critical issue can be quite irritating at times.

    Colours are bright and well presented.

    Although there are almost no digital artefacts - the digital transfer is unjustifiably good for this movie - there are occasionally some white film artefacts present.

    Subtitles are present in English, Dutch, French and German. The English stream does skip occasional words and omit some phrases. Although I assume that this was done to compress reading, these omissions aren't always in places where dialogue is flowing quickly and seems somewhat random.

    The RSDL change at 59:26 is well-placed at the end of a scene.

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

Audio

    The audio lived up to the requirements of a light movie such as this one, but didn't stand out.

    The sole English audio track is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    The dialogue is quite distinct, although can be overwhelmed to a certain extent in the crowd scenes.

    Music is appropriate, but not excessive. Bonus points for the cameo by Brian Setzer performing the entry music for "Irish" Terry Conklin.

    The surround channels are used in crowd scenes, but are limited to an appropriate support role.

    Although the subwoofer is used where necessary, don't look to this disc to test your system's limits.

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

Extras

     The only extra present is a weblink in the menu to Fox's UK website. It's a little disappointing that this shows up the fact that the Region 4 audience is an afterthought.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 variant of this disc is also a bare bones release, including a Spanish dub and subtitle track for Region 4's German dub and Dutch, French and German subtitles. Otherwise I'll give the nod to Region 4's PAL transfer.

Summary

    This is a fun little movie in spite of itself. Rent it cheaply and watch it when you're unwinding so that you don't start to hold it to standards that it's never going to meet.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Gaut (A bio? Have I no privacy?)
Friday, September 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayPanasonic TX-86PW300A. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-512.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-512
SpeakersWharfedale Diamond 8.3 fronts, Wharfedale Diamond 8.2 rears, Wharfedale Diamond 8 centre, Wharfedale 12" sub

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