PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Ax (Couperet, Le) (2005)

The Ax (Couperet, Le) (2005)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 2-May-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Five Obstructions; Mystery Train
Notes-Director Biography & Filmography
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 117:16 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Costa-Gavras
Potential Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring José Garcia
Karin Viard
Geordy Monfils
Christa Theret
Ulrich Tukur
Olivier Gourmet
Yvon Back
Thierry Hancisse
Olga Grumberg
Yolande Moreau
Dieudonné Kabongo
Jean-Pierre Gos
Vanessa Larré
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Armand Amar

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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-American Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Bruno Davert (José Garcia) has it all; a loving wife, two straight, healthy teenage kids and a rewarding career as an executive in paper engineering. Life couldn't be much better, but it sure could get a whole lot worse, and it does when a corporate decision is made to relocate the company to Romania. Initially Bruno sees the freedom and large redundancy payout as empowering, but after two years of job hunting he is becoming worn down. His wife (Karin Viard) is juggling two part-time jobs and the family unit is becoming strained under financial pressures. Cable TV has been cut off in their home, along with the internet, and their teenage son, Maxime, turns to shoplifting in order to earn some pocket money. Times are tough!

    Rather than continue the frustrating cycle of mailing out résumés and attending predictable interviews, Bruno hatches a plan to create a vacancy that will suit his qualifications down to the letter. But, in order to guarantee selection he must eliminate the competition as well. He places a bogus advert in the local press and gleans important info regarding his main rivals with a view to taking them out, one by one. His situation is becoming more desperate, but does Bruno have the courage to match his convictions?

    The Ax (Le Couperet) is an engaging black comedy, with plenty of thrilling moments to boot. Director Costa-Gavras has blended numerous styles to great effect, treading a fine line between stylish noir, comedic ineptitude and scathing social satire. The performances are equally impressive, particularly from the strained Davert family. Anyone who's ever been indefinitely unemployed could certainly relate to this entertaining thriller.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This film was produced in 35mm and was shown theatrically in a matted aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This DVD transfer is true to that presentation, with 16x9 enhancement included. This is a very strong transfer, with only one major issue to report.

    The transfer is beautifully sharp and clear throughout. Shadow detail is excellent, as represented by quite a few dark scenes such as at 93:15 inside the dark house. There is no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    The film's colour scheme is a little drab in places, which I'm certain is an artistic decision. Otherwise, the colour palette is solid and there are absolutely no rendering issues to be concerned about.

    The video stream has been encoded with a constant MPEG bitrate of 8.6Mb/s, which is great. There are absolutely no compression issues to speak of, in fact this is one of the best looking standard definition transfers I have seen of late. The source print is in very good condition, so there are no noticeable film artefacts in the slightest. I noted a couple of scenes that contain a mild amount of visible film grain, but this is only a very minor complaint.

    English subtitles are included, with a font comprised of a yellow, SBS-style text. There are Americanisms present in the translation, such as 'Fall' instead of Autumn and 'miles' where the French dialogue clearly says 'kilometers'. I found I was unable to switch the default subtitle stream off, either via the set-up menu or on the fly. This makes the set-up menu and "English subtitles on/off" option seem pretty silly.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 formatted), with the layer transition placed near the halfway mark at 60:35.The transition was transparent on my system.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, both in the film's original French language. The default soundtrack is a very nice French Dolby Digital 5.1, encoded at 448Kb/s. I sampled the French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) alternative.

    The dialogue is prominent at all times, and although my comprehension of French is rough, I never felt the spoken word was neglected in the mix. The ADR is completely seamless. Audio sync is similarly accurate.

    The surround channels are generally occupied by the score's tense percussion and a few atmospheric elements in key scenes. Gunshots can be heard ringing in the rear speakers when necessary, so this is a fairly active soundtrack in most respects. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray.

    The stereo soundtrack option can be manually selected from the set-up menu or on the fly. I found it a little quieter in comparison to the surround default, however it was very responsive to Pro Logic IIx processing.

    The score by Armand Amar is outstanding in its simplicity, harbouring a rich, string-driven chamber music element that is neatly laced with inventive percussion. It is quite unique and complements the sometimes quirky atmosphere of the film ideally.

    The subwoofer is surprisingly active in the default soundtrack, accentuating gunfire and other effects, such as the loud drums at 43:00. There is also a major explosion later in the film that utilises the LFE channel to great effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

Theatrical Trailer (1:28)

    This widescreen trailer includes burned-in subtitles and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Madman Trailers (2)

    Trailers are included for The Five Obstructions and Mystery Train. These are preceded by an anti-piracy advert.

Director Biography & Filmography

    As with other Director's Suite titles, the inside of the cover slick contains info that is well worth reading.

R4 vs R1

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

    The French Region 2 disc includes:

    I suspect there are no English subtitles on this version, and there doesn't appear to be any UK or Region 1 version yet. Ours is a good release for English speakers.


    The Ax (Le Couperet) is very worthwhile viewing, particularly for fans of French cinema.

    The video transfer is excellent, but the subtitles cannot be removed for some reason.

    The audio transfer is great.

    There are no real extras to speak of.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, March 09, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE