The Assassin (Point of No Return) (1993)

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Released 12-Jul-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 103:53 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Badham
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Bridget Fonda
Gabriel Byrne
Dermot Mulroney
Anne Bancroft
Harvey Keitel
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Assassin is a Hollywood remake of the French film La Femme Nikita (Ed: Or simply Nikita) made by Luc Besson (who is given credit on this effort), and to be honest the original is a far better film. That is not to say that this is a bad film, rather that like many such remakes, it has lost a little in the translation.

    The broad plot involves Maggie (Bridget Fonda), a somewhat detached drug addict who kills a police officer during a botched break-in at a drug store. Sentenced to the death penalty after being found guilty of the murder, Maggie apparently is given the lethal injections and, for the eyes of the world, is buried. Trouble is that Maggie's talents have attracted the eye of Bob (Gabriel Byrne) who recruits her for ultra secret government work - as an assassin - offering her a choice of either joining the program or dying. Her rebellious streak initially causes trouble with her training but after an ultimatum - shape up or get a bullet in the brain - and with the help of Amanda (Anne Bancroft), one of her teachers, she makes good.

    Having completed training, Maggie's final test is a hit, killing a VIP and his bodyguard in a busy restaurant. She passes with flying colours and becomes a fully fledged operative, with the code name Nina. Only trouble is, she meets a man (JP, Dermot Mulroney) - that's always good for a pile of trouble - and feels wanted for the first time in her life. So Maggie starts getting a conscience, which is not exactly a plus for her line of work. She wants out, which has never been done before, but needs to complete one job before Bob will help her.

    Overall, this is not too bad a film even if it is not as good as the original. Bridget Fonda is good as Maggie and carries off the role fairly well. Gabriel Byrne has turned up in a couple of films through my player recently, and has not yet disappointed and this is not going to break that streak. The rest of the cast are fairly forgettable. John Badham has done a pretty decent job, but Luc Besson he is not.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, this is nothing more than an average transfer and is a little disappointing.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced although at times it is a little difficult to believe it.

    This is not a particularly sharp transfer and overall lacks a little in definition. This may be a problem with the original film and not a mastering fault, but it has been some time since I have seen this film. Shadow detail is fairly reasonable, but does not match the best available.

    This is quite a muted transfer with little on offer in the way of bright, vibrant colours: even Venice Beach comes up quite muted, which takes some doing.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts, but video artefacts were very prevalent throughout, especially earlier in the film. Whilst it was nothing major, mainly a little shimmering, it was noticeable and did detract a little from the film. Film artefacts were also quite prevalent during the film, and at times were a little distracting. The worst is what appears to be a black scratch mark on the right side of the picture from 74:06 to 74:53

Audio

    Warners have blessed us with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a very good one it is.

    There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on the DVD: the default English, French and Italian. I listened to the default English soundtrack, but also briefly sampled the two others.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem at all.

    The score was provided by Hans Zimmer and a reasonably unremarkable effort it is at times. It did however suit the film well, even if it did not make an exceptional contribution to the film.

    This is a very well balanced soundtrack, if not especially detailed. The rear channels did not get much of a work out, but when they were used they were quite effective. The overall sound picture is quite good and you are nicely inserted into the sound picture.

    The subwoofer did not get too much use, but when it did it was very effective.

Extras

    Another example of Warners promising and not delivering - the case cover says Production Notes, but if they are on the disc, they must be very invisible indeed. Warners really need to lift their game in this regard.

Menu

    Not especially notable and lacking any enhancement.

R4 vs R1

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

    Known as Point Of No Return in Region 1, the Region 4 version misses out on:     Please note that there is some confusion as to what features the Region 1 disc actually has judging from the resources I checked out so if anyone has the Region 1 disc, could they let me know the exact contents thereof. Based upon the above though, Region 1 would have to be the way to go.
(Ed: Both versions seem much the same to me.)

Summary

    The Assassin is actually a fairly good film, for a remake, presented on a slightly better than average DVD. But in all honesty it is not a patch on the original, La Femme Nikita, which I really wish was available on Region 4 DVD (it is available on Region 1).

    Overall video quality is fairly average.

    Overall audio quality is very good.

    If you find an extra, please let Warner's lost and found department know as soon as possible.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, September 19, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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