The Jackal: Collector's Edition (1997)

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Released 19-Mar-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Audio Commentary-Michael Caton-Jones (Director)
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Alternate Ending
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 119:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:55) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Caton-Jones
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Bruce Willis
Richard Gere
Sidney Poitier
Diane Venora
David Hayman
Jack Black
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Carter Burwell
Massive Attack


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
Danish
Finnish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Bulgarian
Polish
Czech
Portuguese
Greek
Turkish
Hungarian
Italian
Spanish
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 story of The Jackal could be considered as two separate plots that meld together in an ever-tighter fashion as the storyline progresses. It is a movie that I have seen numerous times, and yet I always walk away thoroughly entertained, never feeling as if something is missing or that the storyline is incomplete. It truly is a fully-rounded package complete with romance, suspense, action and some very interesting characters.

    Undoubtedly Bruce Willis, who plays The Jackal, was excellent and not only was this a break from his usual acting roles, but the way in which he removed all emotion from his character perfectly portrayed a brutal gun-for-hire that only cared about his occupation and the skills that involved. Richard Gere as Declan Mulqueen played a convincing part and even his Irish accent seemed natural (well, to this Aussie at least). Sidney Poitier played Carter Preston but it was not until after the first scene that he settled down into a more relaxed and convincing role. Two other people that are worth a mention are Jack Black as Lamont and David Hayman who was well cast as the Russian Mob Boss Terek Murad. Whilst both had relatively small roles based on the amount of time they have in front of the camera, both parts have a dramatic effect on the plot from the moment their characters are introduced.

    Now, to the story. Terek's younger brother is shot and killed when US and Russian authorities, headed by FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier) together with the aid of Russian Intelligence Officer Valentina Koslova (Dianne Venora), attempt to arrest him for murder. Upon learning of his brother's fate, Terek (David Hayman) hires The Jackal (Bruce Willis) for a cool $70M to make a hit on a U.S. government official as payback for his brother's death and to send a message back to the U.S. authorities.

    Whilst the FBI knows that The Jackal has been hired to make the hit, no one knows his identity nor the intended target. They must work against the clock to stop this mercenary before he can complete his assignment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is superb, but misses out on a reference quality moniker due to some sections of film artefacts.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    Initially, the opening credits display an intentionally chunky look and have a high level of grain. This is followed by a compressed timeline of black & white images concentrating on Russian and Soviet events right up until the present day. The Director comments that it was his intention to place the rugged images and back them with British techno-style music to put you in a rather uneasy and concerned frame of mind before the first actual movie scene is played. It works well and by the time the music ends and a car rolls into view, the image has changed to something that is clear and extremely sharp. Overall, the detail revealed by this transfer is exceptionally good. Shadow detail is wonderful, with an enormous amount of detail being revealed throughout this production. Some of the clarity can be seen at 12:12 or even better still at 16:50. Another example where there is a mixture of bright light and dark shadows can be viewed from 17:23 and again the camerawork reveals a truly realistic scene. There is no low level noise.

    The colours are excellent both in vibrancy and hue. The skin tones are realistic throughout the movie and the bright blue sky is wonderfully captured in any outdoor scenes. Further lavishly rich colours are shown on the boats at the Marina, especially the scenes featuring the bright and colourful spinnaker sails. Another area that really impressed me was the polished brass bank plaque at 15:48 which looks as if you are seeing it through your own eyes.

    There were no MPEG artefacts to be seen. Aliasing is limited to one small section at 13:24 during a camera pan. At 10:25 there is some mild movement on the wall, which more closely resembles aliasing than any other type of artefact. Film artefacts are absent for the majority of the film with these exceptions; at 69:04 there is a dramatic drop in quality and film artefacts become quite noticeable, and again at 114:10 the film artefacts make a comeback.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 75:55. It is perfectly placed between scenes and is rather hard to notice.

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

Audio

    This is a magnificent audio transfer, and is of reference quality.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times with no apparent hiss. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The musical score by Carter Burwell was magnificent and really added to the story with its ability to change your emotions to suit the scenes. The beginning and end title music was by Massive Attack. It was mentioned in the commentary track that the intention for the music in the opening sequence was to put viewers in an uneasy and tense frame of mind. In my opinion, it accomplished this aim.

    The soundtrack is one of the best Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes I've heard in quite some time. Don't take that statement to mean that your surrounds are going to be highly active and the sub will be thumping away from beginning to end. In fact, quite the contrary. The surround channels were used when required both for ambience as well as for directional effects. The story does contain a fair amount of dialogue but when there are action scenes the sounds are well balanced and expansive. The sense of envelopment in areas such as 4:37, 5:20 - 7:47 and 55:16 is breathtaking. Directional effects can be heard at 69:24, 69:24 and 85:50, where you are placed smack bang in the middle of the action.

    The subwoofer was used when required and its presence is felt early on during the opening credits. Further examples are subtler as a support for the music but specific subwoofer action is heard at 39:49 and 100:15 to 105:44.

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

Extras

     A good selection of extras is present and will interest most viewers.

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie. The main menu features a still clip from the movie and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio.

The Making Of The Jackal

    This featurette contains some fascinating background information about the movie, cast and crew. Well worth a look if you enjoyed the story.

Deleted Scenes

    These are hidden in the Chapter menu of the “Making Of” section. Michael Caton-Jones explains what happened to the missing 20 minutes of footage and why it was left out. You also get to see the footage in its original rough draft form complete with the run-times. Interesting to watch but not essential to the plot and their absence enhances the movie in my opinion.

Alternate Ending

    Also hidden in the Chapter menu of the “Making Of” section. The alternate ending is only a slight change from the one that was released theatrically. Like the deleted scenes, it was a good choice not to run with this ending.

Production Photographs

    Also hidden in the Chapter menu of the “Making Of” section. This is a collection of still photographs presented as a silent self-running slide show lasting for 8:30.

Feature Commentary

    Director Michael Caton-Jones is featured on this commentary track. He provides an almost endless amount of detail regarding the movie, characters and actors. For the more technically-minded, he points out not only where individual scenes were shot but also how the team overcome any technical problems that showed up. If the movie interested you, then this is sure to please and well worth listening to after you have seen the main feature.

Production Notes

    A total of 11 pages of notes about the production are available for reading here.

Cast & Filmmakers

    A small amount of career information and a complete filmography is shown here in textual form for the following;

Theatrical Trailer (1:57)

    This is of acceptable quality, being presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 Dolby Digital version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 DTS version of this disc misses out on;

    Both Dolby Digital versions are equally good and neither version would be preferred. Some may prefer the bare bones Region 1 DTS release over the extras-laden Dolby Digital versions.

Summary

    The Jackal has always been an enjoyable movie for me. This is one title that has been placed on the top shelf of my collection which means that it has many hours of repeat viewing ahead of it.

    The video quality is superb. If the studio fixed up the few quirks in the image it would be of reference quality.

    The audio quality is superb.

    The extras are very satisfactory.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-533K, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Audiolabs Magnum M30 (Mains); M05 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

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