The Specialist (1994)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1994|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Luis Llosa|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The movie opens with a sequence involving Ray Quick (Sylvester Stallone) and Ned Trent (James Woods), whom we are told are working for the CIA and are about to blow up a drug lord. Unfortunately, a little girl is killed in the explosion. Ray is upset. Ned isn't. Ned is clearly the Bad GuyTM. Ray gets Ned kicked out of the CIA and then goes to ground himself.
May Munro (Sharon Stone) sees her parents get killed by three mobsters for no reason as a child. She vows revenge, and contacts Ray via a BBS called the Weekend Warrior BBS. She wants Ray to kill the mobsters by blowing them up ("bullets are so imprecise"). For no reason at all, we see Ray beat up some obnoxious punks in a bus so a pregnant woman can have a seat. May meets one of the mobsters and becomes his girlfriend. Ray decides to help May.
We see a mobster get shot in the head by another mobster (looked pretty precise to me) and then get blown up by Ray's bomb (looked pretty imprecise to me). Ned is involved with this particular mob family, and so he gets assigned to the police task force investigating the bombing. He gets to strut around and curl his upper lip a lot and generally act like a Bad GuyTM.
Next, the second mobster is blown up ("bye-bye").
Next, we find out that May is setting up Ray so that Ned can get to him since Ned is pretty sore at Ray for having him kicked out of the CIA.
Next, the third mobster, Tomas Leon (Eric Roberts, Julia's brother), is killed. This makes Joe Leon (Rod Steiger) mad since Tomas was his son. Joe Leon is supposed to be the sinister Mob BossTM, but comes across more like Joe Dolce than anything else. Joe tells Ned to get Ray or else. In this confusion, we are unsure whether or not May has been killed but it turns out she wasn't and gets to meet Ray. They have sex in a hotel room. Look, Fred, look, Sharon Stone naked. Look, Fred, look, Sylvester Stallone is a really small guy (in height). May goes away. Ned finds her. Ned finds Ray. Ray escapes. More mobsters die in what is supposed to be a thrilling action sequence in the hotel but which just looks fake.
Ned figures out where Ray lives. Ned goes there. Things are blown up. Ray escapes. Joe Leon is blown up for good measure. The movie ends. Ray and May live happily ever after. Thank God it's only 105 minutes long in PAL instead of 109 minutes (NTSC).
This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.
The movie was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was superb with clear shadow details and not a trace of noise.
The colour was perfectly rendered throughout the transfer. There were many dimly-lit scenes, and a number of scenes with high red content, but they all transferred perfectly to video.
No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent. I noted a few trivial film artefacts very occasionally, but nothing of note. This is an exceptionally clean transfer.
Dialogue was generally clear and intelligible, though somewhat hard to understand in some places, most notably when Sylvester Stallone was speaking in some places, though this is as much Sylvester's as the transfer's fault. Of more concern, the dialogue and sound effects at the start of the movie were out of sync with the picture slightly, being marginally delayed for the first few scenes. This markedly detracted from the impact of the opening sequence.
The music is unremarkable.
The surround channels were used during special effects sequences to create an enveloping soundfield. They were also active during a lot of the music, and at times to add ambience to the movie.
The .1 channel was mainly used to underscore the action sequences, which featured frequent explosions, and which it did well.
The other extras on this DVD are still frames for the cast and crew biographies, still framed brief production notes and Reel Recommendations. Reel Recommendations are still frames of other Warner DVD titles that the stars and the director were involved with.
The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;
Pan & Scan version
The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;
There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other.
There are many senseless scenes in the movie, such as the bus sequence, a silly sequence where Sylvester poses for the presumed benefit of the female audience, and a number of sequences where Sharon does this a bit, too. There is also a lot of smoking in this movie, quite clearly promoting smoking rather than advancing plot.
The video quality is stunning. This transfer now takes the crown of best Region 4 DVD video transfer. This is about the only good thing I have to say about this movie.
The audio quality is generally good, but dialogue is sometimes hard to hear, and is marginally out of sync early on in the movie. However, it does normalize within the first five minutes.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer|