Casualties of War (1989)
Trailer-In The Line Of Fire; The Caine Mutiny; A Few Good Men
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1989|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (78:59)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Brian De Palma|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Michael J. Fox
John C. Reilly
|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)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Watching it for the first time, (I do not know how it has eluded me for so long!) I found it to be a refreshing change from the modern war film that is hell-bent on depicting raging battle scenes and trying to be like Saving Private Ryan. A human tale, this story is dark, incredibly disturbing, emotional and a film that actually made me enraged at its content.
Michael J. Fox stars as Eriksson, a newcomer, or cherry, to a Vietnam platoon whose sergeant is the equally young Meserve, played menacingly by Sean Penn. Along for the ride in this platoon are Hatcher (John C. Reilly), Diaz (John Leguizamo) and the psychotic Clark (Don Harvey—in a performance that equals Penn's in its ferocity).
After being betrayed by some Vietnamese citizens, Meserve directs his hatred toward the Vietnamese people instead of at the Viet Cong, and, together with the rest of the platoon, he kidnaps a young Vietnamese peasant girl for some 'portable R&R'.
The idealistic Eriksson simply cannot stomach that the respectable US military would kidnap and rape an innocent civilian, and he bravely takes his fight up with his commanding officers — much to the detriment of his livelihood, manhood, and his safety within the five man platoon.
The performances in this film are very solid. Fox manages to break the mould of Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties and Marty McFly from Back To The Future very well. For the first 20 minutes of this film I found it hard to picture Michael J. Fox as someone other than Stuart Little, but soon enough I was entrenched in the story enough that I did not even think of it again. Penn is as you would expect, brilliant. Has he ever had a bad performance? No. He has fire in his eyes and murder on the mind for the whole film. His shrieks and bellows leap from your speakers and managed to scare the hell out of me, let alone everybody around him.
By far the most stunning performance comes from Vietnamese actress Thuy Thu Le as Oahn, the kidnapped peasant girl. There are hardly words to describe her performance without giving away major plot spoilers, but she manages to express her feelings, fears and pain without speaking a word of English. An amazing performance and one that everybody involved in the film still holds as one of their greatest memories from the set.
Brian DePalma directs this film with the right amount of gore and violence to show the brutality of war, but does not lose sight of the fact that this story is about personal angst, pain, disgust, want and fear. Some magnificent shots accompany this film. It was actually shot in Thailand. DePalma has never really been a director that inspires me much, but I have to say that he impressed the pants off me with this one. DePalma made me hate some of the characters so much that I felt sick, but he balances this with some artful sequences way ahead of their time. A great directorial performance.
With supporting performances from Ving Rhames, Dale Dye, Sam Robards and Erik King, Casualties Of War is a truly fantastic film. I enjoyed it more than Oliver Stone's Platoon and definitely rate as my favourite Vietnam film. Definitely one to watch if you have not yet experienced it.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The video transfer is very sharp and well detailed throughout. Possibly at the start of the film there is a bit of a lack of shadow detail, but I would suggest that the film was shot that way to show how thick, dense and dark the jungle can be. There is some mild edge enhancement noticed, with the worst example being at 48:09. There's some grain at 63:14. These times represent the strongest examples of these artefacts, but even though they appear a few more times, they are quite mild. There was no low-level noise.
The colours are strong and vibrant with the countryside shown off very well. The greens of the hills are deep and beautiful, and the browns are solid and rich. There were no instances of colour bleed or or any other colour-related artefacts.
There were no MPEG artefacts noticed, and only some mild film to video artefacts noted in the form of aliasing. The aliasing is seen throughout the film on the soldier's live ammo around their necks, but the worst example lies between 76:08-78:59 along the rims of Ving Rhames' glasses. Some very minor telecine wobble can be seen in the opening credits as well. There is a smattering of film artefacts in the form of dust and dirt, with the worst example being at 63:14.
There are numerous subtitles recorded here. I watched about 15-20 minutes of the English subtitles and found them to be over-simplified. I actually found it quite annoying and had to turn them off.
This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 78:59. It's in the middle of a scene, but not in the middle of a sentence. This is not the best placement I have seen, but there are not too many good spots throughout the film. It is better than getting a lousy transfer or a flipper disc though....
There are plenty of audio tracks recorded here with the best track being an English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack recorded at 448kb/s.
I found some of the dialogue in this film hard to understand, and often I was forced to rewind the film and play the scene with subtitles to understand the dialogue properly. I do not really think that this was the fault of the DVD, but rather the clarity of the source material. There were no real instances where the music or effects drowned out the dialogue. Audio sync was fine, with no real concerns.
A typical and classic Ennio Morricone score accompanies the action on screen here. Sounding very much like his work with The Mission, the score takes us through many styles of music with chorals to fast paced strings to long graceful orchestral sounds. The music emanates primarily through the left and right channels and occasionally wafts through the surround speakers as well.
Besides the occasional musical cue, the surrounds do not get much of a workout in this film. This is the one area that I have to mark the transfer harshly on, as I really hate it when a 5.1 transfer sound more like a 2.0 transfer. In the action scenes, there are effects coming through these channels, but not enough to satisfy my hunger for surround activity.
Much of the same can be said for the subwoofer, with only a small amount of work to do when it really needs it.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
In a very even contest, I would give the nod to the Region 4 simply because of the superior video format.
The video transfer is very impressive for a film of its age.
The audio transfer is not very exciting and lacks a bottom end and activity from the rear speakers.
The extras are informative, but it would have been nice to have some more.
|DVD||Sony DVP-S525, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm) 16:9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS797- THX Select|
|Speakers||Jamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround|