The Jammed (2007)

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Released 5-Mar-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 88:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dee McLachlan
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Emma Lung
Veronica Sywak
Saskia Burmeister
Masa Yamaguchi
Todd MacDonald
Andrew S. Gilbert
Kate Atkinson
Damien Richardson
Case ?
RPI ? Music Grant Innes McLachlan


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

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Plot Synopsis

   If there has been an Australian cinema success story this year then surely it must be The Jammed, the first feature in this country by director Dee McLachlan, since leaving her native South Africa. Unable to secure any distribution the director and her cast were at wits end until a chance meeting between McLachlan and David Stratton led to him attending a screening of the film. The rest, as they say, is history and The Jammed got a glowing review, followed by more glowing reviews, leading to screenings in every state and a healthy box office. The film will never be another Kenny as its subject matter - the sex slave trade in Australia is too disturbing and the film simply too confronting. But at the cinema or on DVD The Jammed is good quality independent cinema.

Ashley (Veronica Sywak) is a clerk at a Melbourne insurance company. She has recently split up from Tom (Todd Macdonald) and is a somewhat fragile single. A friend at the office tries to set her up on a date by picking up a male friend from the airport. In an odd turn of events the friend, who turns out to be a dropkick, asks Ashley if she could drop off Sunee (Amanda Ma) an elderly women he just met at the airport. Thus begins Ashley's descent into the sordid world of the international sex trade.

For Sunee has come to Australia looking for her daughter. Bit by bit Ashley is drawn into helping Sunee in her search. Before too long we meet Vanya (Saskia Burmeister), Krystal (Emma Lung) and Sunee's daughter Rubi (Sun Park). The first two are young women who have been lured to Australia with a promise of work only to find out their employers are brothel keepers. Rubi's story is far more complex and bleak.

In no uncertain terms the girls learn that they are now heavily indebted to their employers and must work off that debt through prostitution.

As might be expected of an "underbelly within a underbelly" the conditions in which the girls live and work are appalling. However, they have no choice. Trying to run away risks a severe and degrading beating. Even if they did manage to escape they have no friends, no money and no passport. They are working illegally and it has been drummed into them that life in an Australian detention centre is worse than life on the streets.

The story of The Jammed is really about the awakening of Ashley from an ordinary civilian into a crusader against the human sex trade. Without too much difficulty she discovers the link between the shabby brothel where the girls work and the upper middle class owners who present a veneer of moral superiority whilst carrying on this ugly trade.

As might be expected, The Jammed is not packed with laughs. There is a searing anger at the injustice experienced by these women which lies just beneath the surface. It is more of a thriller as we the audience sweat over the fate of the girls and the brave Ashley, who could at any moment choose to mind her own business and just look the other way. The film is not perfect but all the elements come together pretty well for a very low budget feature.

Veronica Sywak took the role to heart and gives an honest and sometimes brittle performance. Although I had some difficulty buying her transformation into crusader I nevertheless enjoyed every minute of her performance.

The trio of girls are all excellent in their roles. In particular, Sun Park provides a frightening divergence from her "all smiles" performance as the replacement for Kathleen in Hi-5. She is desolation personified. Saskia Burmeister and Emma Lung are amongst Australia's brightest young stars and help form a trio of depth and sorrow. All are required to delve deep into accent and cultures that are not their own and pull them off with great aplomb.

There are some nice although variable performances from the supporting cast although I felt the decision to portray the immigration officials as uniformly cold and uncaring was handled in a slightly over the top manner and came off as unconvincing.

The overall impression of the film is that there may not be any solutions to the problem.

This is not to diminish what is compelling and at times devastating insight into this sick world. Working from a very low budget but driven by an obvious commitment of her cast and crew McLachlan has produced one of the most focused and intense Australian films in recent memory.

Whilst not a masterpiece The Jammed is an earnest and heartfelt expose of the live sex trade in Australia - a trade that many people never knew existed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The Jammed was shot on digital camera at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and it has been transferred to DVD in this ratio. It has been 16x9 enhanced.

It is difficult to comment critically on the transfer as the film strives at all turns to make the world in which the girls live as dark and depressing as possible. Therefore colours are kept to a minimum and there is a bit of digital noise, particularly in the night scenes. Still by no means can this be called a bad transfer. It is crisp with deep shadows and everything looks exactly as I imagine the director intended and the raw hand-held look helps draw the viewer close, sometimes uncomfortably so, to the action.

There are no technical problems with the transfer. It is clear of artefacts and the noise is the only real problem. Compression is not an issue.

Audio sync appears accurate and there are subtitles for the hearing impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.

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

Audio

    The Jammed comes to DVD in two flavours Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 448K/bps and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224Kb/s.

The film is really centre speaker dependant and there is little for the surrounds to do. The sub-woofer is only occasionally present.

The dialogue from the "Aussies" is clear and usually easy to understand although it must be said that the three girls are all doing their darndest to be accurate foreigners with little English speaking ability and that can mean that their dialogue can be difficult to make out at times. Again that is no discredit to the film.

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

Extras

The extras are a bit light but still enjoyable.

Featurette-Making Of

The Making of featurette is more of a brief production diary and was directed by producer Andrea Buck. We get an interesting glimpse into the independent, low-budget filmmaking process. The girls get a chance to goof off as an obvious way to de-stress after the turmoil of filming such dramatically charged material.

Deleted Scenes

There are about three minutes comprising two deleted scenes that don't really add much to the package.

Theatrical Trailer

The trailer gives a fair and enticing portrait of the film with the sobering message that some 700,000 girls are "sold" into the international sex slave trade each year.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD has not been released in any other Region as yet. Here's hoping!

Summary

    The Jammed is a tough watch but it is rewarding in its insight into this dark sad world.

The transfer is pretty good considering that the film is intended to look dark and bleak. The extras are brief but enjoyable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, October 22, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70 Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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