The Hard Word (2002)
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
Storyboard Comparisons-with Director Commentary
Music Video-Opening Theme by David Thrussell
Audio Commentary-Scott Roberts (Writer/Director)
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (62:31)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Scott Roberts|
Alibi Films Internat
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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!
|Surround Channel Use|
A nice swag of extras here including a very informative commentary and a nice Easter Egg.
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.
The video transfer is excellent.
The audio transfer is equally as good.
The extras are very polished and informative.
|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|