The Hard Word (2002)

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Released 3-Dec-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Isolated Musical Score
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Notes-"Meatierology" - A Glossary of Butcher's Speak
Theatrical Trailer
Storyboard Comparisons-with Director Commentary
Music Video-Opening Theme by David Thrussell
Audio Commentary-Scott Roberts (Writer/Director)
Easter Egg
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 99:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:31) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Scott Roberts
Studio
Distributor
Alibi Films Internat
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Guy Pearce
Joel Edgerton
Rachel Griffiths
Damien Richardson
Robert Taylor
Vince Colosimo
Kim Gyngell
Greg Fleet
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music David Thrussell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    After Pulp Fiction in 1994 and 1998's Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, there has been a spate of gangster/crime films that have taken some of the shine away from this genre as set-ups and themes suddenly do not inspire us like they used to. Films like Snatch, Two Hands, Jackie Brown, Dirty Deeds plus many others are all very good films, but are not ground-breaking like the preceding two stunners.

    The Hard Word fits into the second category for me on account of the sheer number of crime films that have been made since the mid 1990s. It is a slick Australian heist thriller which is at times innovative, at times a little corny, but mostly fun, fast and cool.

    The three Twentyman brothers are career bank robbers - nice guys who believe that there is nothing wrong with robbing banks as long as nobody gets hurt. Dale (Guy Pearce) is the eldest and is the brains of the group. Shane (Joel Edgerton) is the muscle, and Mal (Damien Richardson) is the nice one. They have a pretty neat set-up whereby their crooked lawyer Frank Malone (Robert Taylor) sets up jobs for the boys to do with the 'approval' of the cops and the Governor. When Frank gets a bit greedy in terms of the money, power and Dale's wife (played with tarty aplomb by Rachel Griffiths), Dale and Frank are matched together to see who will get the money and who will get the girl after one last big job.

    First time Australian director Scott Roberts, who also wrote the screenplay, makes an elegant entrance into the film world with some nice direction and a solid sense of story. He keeps the plot simple enough and lets his actors tell the story themselves rather than pointing out obvious plot points for us to see. There is a lot of background information given for most of the characters which is subtle and does not take up too much time - the sign of a script and director working well together.

    Dealing with the 'yobbo' style underworld much like Two Hands, The Hard Word succeeds in making itself a different film from the other most recent Australian crime film. It features some similar characters in different roles but concentrates more on the feud between Dale and Frank than the heist itself. The audience is drawn into the emotions and feelings of the brothers as they try to break away from the business they are accustomed to and make a nice living for themselves.

    Guy Peace is excellent as Dale, and Joel Edgerton is convincing as the psychotic Shane. Damien Richardson is lovely as the charming Mal, but it is Pearce who quite rightly is the attraction of this film. His chameleon-like abilities to change not only his appearance, but also his feel on-screen is very impressive. Just compare his role in this film to his Ed Exley in L.A Confidential - you would swear that you are watching a completely different person!

    While The Hard Word has some aspects to it that seem a little corny, and some parts that maybe could have been a little more expanded upon, it is a slick piece of work that challenges the crime genre rather than simply cashing in on it. It is Australian enough define itself and works its plot, character development and originality without breaking a sweat.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this film is superb and looks bright, strong and vibrant.
 
    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is perfectly sharp and clear for the entire feature. Shadow detail is brilliant and is up there with the best I have seen - individual pores on character's faces and threads on their clothes are crisp and easy to see. The image is clean and does not come close to suffering from a murky or dark picture at any time. There is some very light grain at times, but it is hardly worth mentioning.

    The colours are rock solid and deep throughout. Like the shadow detail, colours blend together perfectly to create a beautiful smooth, realistic picture. There are no instances of colour bleed or other colour related artefacts.

    There were no MPEG artefacts present, but some instances of aliasing at 9:06, 13:18, 14:02 and 38:01. There were some of film artefacts noticed constantly through the film, with the worst examples being at 5:54 and 52:32.

    I watched about 15 minutes of the English subtitles and found them to be fairly accurate to the spoken word, but heavily simplified at times.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 62:31. The pause was very long on my player and I found this layer change very disrupting. The change occurs between scenes, but the outgoing scene is a moving picture so the pause is very apparent. Having said that, there is not really a great place to put the layer change in this film.

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

Audio

    Like the video transfer of this film, the audio transfer is outstanding!

    There are three audio tracks recorded on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track running at 448kb/s, an English 2.0 surround-encoded audio commentary track running at 320 kb/s and another 448 kb/s 5.1 isolated musical score track. I listened to the first two tracks in their entirety and sampled the isolated musical score for key moments.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Occasionally the heavy accents and projection of the actors' voices made it a little hard to clearly hear what was said, but that is a problem with the source material. There are no problems with audio synch. Lines that have been looped afterward can be detected sometimes but it is not too off-putting.

    The musical score from David Thrussell is superb. Sometimes a throwback to cop shows from the 60s and 70s, and sometimes very modern, the music adds a lot to the film's feel and pacing. It heightens the tension where necessary and excites at times as well. The isolated score works well during key scenes and sounds great.

    The surrounds are heavily used throughout the film and can be heard during scenes with lots of people and during action scenes. Music emanates from them continuously as they envelope the viewer in the centre of the room.

    Likewise, the subwoofer gets a big workout during the picture. Big musical cues, action sequences, gunshots, and tense moments get the .1 channel going - a great thing to see (erm, hear) in a film of this size!

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

Extras

    A nice swag of extras here including a very informative commentary and a nice Easter Egg.

Menu

    A classy animated menu that introduces all the characters showing key scenes of theirs during the film.

Audio Commentary-    Writer & Director Scott Roberts

    Roberts delivers a very informative commentary on the film. Obviously a labour of love for him, he talks mostly about the writing of the film and talks through scenes explaining what the character is feeling which gives us insight as to the extent to which Roberts thought about and explored the characters he had made. He touches on directorial points, but these generally are not as interesting or as passionate as his thoughts on the writing process. A very nice commentary.

Isolated Music Score

    As mentioned above, the score for this film is fantastic!  The main theme is outstanding and one that will be regarded as one of the better Australian scores of its time. The difference in the music found throughout this film is quite astounding - from big band to scary electronic music, this score has it all.

Behind The Scenes Featurette    (5:18)

    Presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 and with non 16x9 enhanced clips of the film at 2.35:1, this behind-the-scenes featurette is a bit more than the usual fare. It features Scott Roberts and Guy Pearce as well as most of the cast. Interesting but not long enough to be really fleshed out.

Music Video -    'Opening Theme'    (2:01)

    A very slick editing job of the opening theme music of the film. It is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 and again with 2.35:1 clips of the film that are not 16x9 enhanced. The editing of this piece is very, very nice.

Theatrical Trailer    (2:18)

    Presented in a ratio of 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, this trailer is the same trailer that was attached to the theatrical prints of Queen Of The Damned in Australia. It became the most well known trailer for this film.

'Meatierology' A Glossary of Butcher's Speak

    Scott Roberts explains Butcher's Speak over a handful of pages of text. Butcher's Speak is the coded language that the brothers speak that is commonly heard in the real world amongst butchers in NSW and QLD. Essentially, it is pronouncing words spelt backwards and out of sequence to disguise what they are saying.

Storyboard To Screen    (3:21)

    Featuring a Scott Roberts commentary over the chase scene, this is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced with a Picture In Picture of the storyboards. This is a very slick way of showing these comparisons and what Roberts has to say is interesting.

Cast & Crew Bios    (12)

    Very comprehensive bios and filmographies are presented here for Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Joel Edgerton, Damien Richardson, Robert Taylor, Scott Roberts, Brian Beheny, Martin Connor, Paddy Reardon, Terry Ryan, Al Clark and David Thrussell.

Easter Egg

    Go to Cast & Crew Bios and press up. This will reveal another take of Rachel Griffiths' most (in)famous scene from this film. A nice addition.

R4 vs R1

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

 

    This film is currently unavailable in other Regions.

Summary

    The Hard Word is a very fine Australian crime/heist film that is well written, well directed, beautifully shot and very well acted. It features some original ideas and many memorable scenes. The music and the plot are outstanding and it is one of the better Australian films of the last few years.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is equally as good.

    The extras are very polished and informative.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Friday, December 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm) 16:9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

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Comments (Add)
thanks hugh! -
Missing Head Rests - seraphic06 REPLY POSTED
available in region 1 also -
R2 UK release - Clem