Against All Odds: Collector's Edition (1984)

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Released 14-Feb-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Deleted Scenes-7 (with or without commentary)
Music Video-My Male Curiosity-Kid Creole and the Coconuts
Music Video-Against All Odds-Phil Collins
Audio Commentary-Taylor Hackford (Dir) & Eric Hughes (Screenwriter)
Audio Commentary-T Hackford (Dir), J Bridges (Act) & J Woods (Act)
Filmographies-Cast
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 116:30
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:58) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Taylor Hackford
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Rachel Ward
Jeff Bridges
James Woods
Alex Karras
Jane Greer
Richard Widmark
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Michael Colombier
Larry Carlton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, partially in credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Well, another not so recent film makes it through the player, but this time I really do wonder why this film was chosen, not only for release on DVD, but that it should have the super-duper Collector's Edition treatment. After all, this is hardly a classic film in my view and despite some obvious attractions, there are far better credentialled films that I would have thought made a little more sense to release in a Collector's Edition. Still, who am I to question the workings of the mind of the person who actually makes the decision as to what gets released or not on DVD.

    Based upon the film Out Of The Past, this is touted as a film noir in the daylight. Quite how that avoids being a contradiction in terms I do not know, but I suppose it is true in essence that this has much to do with the traditional film noir of the 1940's. Terry Brogan (Jeff Bridges) is a professional footballer who has been recently cut from the Los Angeles Outlaws. In the course of trying to get his job back, he makes a few discoveries. Firstly, owners don't give a tinkers cuss about the players - they are only in it for the money. Secondly, out-of-work footballers, even famous ones, are a dime a dozen and his prospects are not too hot, and his financial situation is even worse. So when a long-time friend in Jake Wise (James Woods), nightclub owner and bookmaker extraordinaire, makes a suggestion about how he can make a few dollars, he has to consider the matter, right? Wrong. He decides to tell Jake where to go, before finally deciding that the gig is not too bad after all - an all expenses jaunt to Mexico to seek out Jake's girlfriend Jessie Wyler (Rachel Ward), who has reputedly done the old five finger discount on $50,000 of Jake's money. Presumably this was right around the same time that she tried to remove Jake's body from his leg. So off Terry heads in search of an extended holiday in Mexico at the expense of Jake - with no real intention of finding Jessie: at least not until he actually meets her and falls in love with her. After an idyllic couple of weeks in the arms of Jessie, Terry soon learns that the hunter can become the hunted and that Jake had a back up contingency plan just in case Terry should be less that conscientious in his search. The back up plan is another slightly indebted former member of the Los Angeles Outlaws in coach Hank Sully (Alex Karras). His efforts to get Jessie to return to Jake end up to his serious disadvantage. Cue the return of the whole saga from the delights of Mexico to Los Angeles, where intrigue and twist compound upon intrigue and twist.

    One of the features of film noir is that the story is usually somewhat dense with a lot of back story to wade through. This is true to the genre, and in the end it sort of peters out to a rather soulless conclusion in my view. Still, there is plenty to enjoy here, if perhaps Rachel Ward's strong Australian accent is not one of them. I never truly believed it was that strong until I watched this film: it is very distinctly Australian and I suppose we should be grateful that this has avoided the fate that befalls a seemingly endless parade of Australian films in the United States - dubbing. This is certainly a strong cast and Rachel Ward certainly demonstrates that she could have been very big in Hollywood, if she had not chosen to forsake her career for life as a wife. But this really is a film dominated by two people - Jeff Bridges and James Woods. Jeff Bridges has sometimes not been the most selective when it comes to choices of films, but this is a particularly fine effort from him and he obviously learnt well from hanging around with pro-footballer Bob Chandler, formerly of the famed Los Angeles Raiders. The more I see of James Woods, the more I enjoy his work. He brings a nice hard edge to this role, which seems to be right up his alley. Since the film was based upon Out Of The Past, it is also pleasing to see a number of people from that film included in the cast - most notably former femme fatale Jane Greer. The whole film is nicely realized under the care of director Taylor Hackford and the superb choices of locations have aided the film no end, giving the film a nicely distinctive look that in itself is worth the effort to watch.

    Whilst I would not consider this to be a classic film, it is nonetheless an enjoyable enough film that moves along at a nice pace without resorting to frenetic paces - other than in the rather improbably dangerous car race along Sunset Boulevard. The funny thing to me however is that the film is probably best remembered for the rather classic pose immortalized on the promotion poster (and the front cover of the DVD), a pose that actually does not appear in the film at all.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Once again, Columbia TriStar have come up with a d*** fine transfer for a film that is heading for seventeen years old. I don't know what their secret is, but I wish they would hand it out to everyone else - it would certainly raise the overall standards of DVD transfers enormously.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is, as is customary for Columbia TriStar, 16x9 enhanced.

    Despite the age of the film, this is actually quite a sharp, detailed transfer that totally belies its age. Whilst it is not able to compete with the very best of modern films, it certainly comes up a lot fresher, sharper and more defined than I was expecting. There are the odd few lapses that do underline the age of the film, but these are readily excusable in the overall scheme of things. At its best this is very good indeed and a fine example is the rain scene in Mexico, where the whole scene radiates clarity and sharpness. The transfer is generally quite clear, with just the odd hint of a little graininess to remind you of the age of the film. Shadow detail is in general far better than I was expecting, although obviously not as good as a very recent film. This only becomes a slight problem in the scenes inside the ruins, but that is really quibbling over minor points. There appear to be no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    The transfer is significantly more vibrant in colour than I was expecting, even given that the overall feel of the Mexican locations is quite a muted palette of colours. Some of the greens in particular come up wonderfully well, as does the gorgeously captured ocean blue. Even the underwater scenes, where colour wash-out is more likely to be noticed in an older film, come up very well indeed. If this were a travel documentary for Mexico, it would certainly encourage me to go. The only problem at all with the colour is a degree of colour bleed in the opening and closing titles, although the opening credits are by far the most noticeable. Aside from that there was no hint of oversaturation.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There were no significant film-to-video artefacts noted in the transfer, apart from some shimmer in the closing credits which I found a little distracting. Once again we have an older film that is really free from noticeable film artefacts: I really would love to know how they manage to produce such clean transfers when others have even recent films riddled with noticeable film artefacts.

    This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 84:58. This is a reasonably placed change that is minimally disruptive to the film.

    You should note the plethora of subtitle tracks on the disc - surely a record? The subtitle tracks for the two audio commentaries are not listed on the packaging - probably through lack of space rather than anything else!

Audio

    This presents a rather unusual quad surround soundtrack that to be honest takes a little getting used to.

    There are seven audio tracks on the DVD: the English default soundtrack in Dolby Digital 4.0 quad surround, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, together with two English Audio Commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. I listened to the English default soundtrack, as well as both audio commentaries, plus briefly sampled the other soundtracks. The Italian soundtrack was described by Michael as tinny in his brief notes about the film, and I have to say that in comparison to the other soundtracks it certainly seems a little recessed and lacking bloom in the sound.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand.

    There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.

    The score by Michel Colombier and Larry Carlton is very complementary to the film, although I have to confess that the Mark Knopfler guitar music left more of an impression upon me, as opposed to the originally scored music. Still, a good example of music essential to the film, without it taking over the film completely.

    The reason why the quad surround sound takes a little getting used to is because this is not like the usual 5.1 soundtracks where the surround presence comes across either the front or rear channels. Here the sound seems to come from distinct speakers, so that it sounds more like four mono soundtracks running simultaneously as opposed to a stereo effect. I am sorry if that does not describe it well enough, but it really is difficult to describe the feel of the soundtrack. However, you do soon adjust to the style of the soundtrack and thereafter it seems to be quite a nicely balanced soundtrack, if lacking a little in the ambient detail department. Certainly the subwoofer is a piece of superfluous gear for this film. Overall, a nice sounding effort once you adjust to the style.

Extras

    To top off the package, Columbia TriStar have come up with an extras package that puts many a more recent release film to shame, at least in scope if not technical quality.

Menu

    A little misleading in being very green in colour, and lacking any form of audio or animation enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

    This is presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound that is curiously recessed.

Filmographies - Cast

    I would suspect rather incomplete filmographies at that, and rather unusually includes one for an actor not even noted on the cover as a co-star.

Deleted Scenes - 7 (23:09)

    All the more staggering to me than anything else is the fact that after so many years these sorts of scenes not only exist in the archives, but were actually locatable! Still, the quality would suggest that they were not too well stored, as the overall condition is reasonably poor - and in some instances they are incomplete with little messages flashing up like "insert missing". But even more amazing is that they are actually presented with the option of having an audio commentary from director Taylor Hackford and writer Eric Hughes; I do not recall having seen an audio commentary for deleted scenes before, although I suspect they have been done before. The actual scenes themselves are presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound that is again curiously recessed. These scenes in general fill in a bit of back story quite nicely, although it is equally understandable why they did not make the overall final cut of the film. Still, a very nice inclusion in the package, even if the technical quality is not the best.

Music Video - My Male Curiosity (Kid Creole and The Coconuts) (5:16)

    At one time this band was a bit of a name band, but for the life of me I cannot recall the name of the song that made them (reasonably) famous. All I know is that it was not this rather long winded and dreary indulgence. In keeping with the rest of the package, presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound that remains a little recessed. Just for a bit of variety though, it has to be said that the video quality is not the best with some reasonably poor definition and colour. Since the song appears in the film itself, albeit not in its entirety, this is either redundant or welcome depending upon your position on the quality of the song.

Music Video - Against All Odds (Phil Collins) (3:34)

    Well, talk about something completely different! We travel from an overindulgence by a thankfully (almost) forgotten band to one of the classic songs of the 1980's (and one of Michael's favourites to boot) from the former lead man from Genesis. The technical quality is no better but the quality of the music d*** well is. A great shame the technical quality is not better, but I could listen to this a few times myself. Presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. The song was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 1985.

Audio Commentary - Taylor Hackford (Director) and Eric Hughes (Writer)

    And this is where the package is raised out of the ordinary. Not one but two audio commentaries, recorded on consecutive days it would appear. This is the second recorded and provides a lot of the background stuff about the conceptualization and realization of the film, including the securing of the locations and so on. I found this to be quite an interesting listen, even if there were occasions when I wished Taylor would shut up and give Eric a real go with the microphone. Obviously with this being a reminiscing type of commentary there are a few lapses in memory but overall an entertaining inclusion in the package.

Audio Commentary - Taylor Hackford (Director), Jeff Bridges (Actor) and James Woods (Actor)

    Even though this was the first recorded, and I would expect a little hesitancy as a result, this seems to be the more fun filled of the two commentaries, that concentrates more upon reminiscences about the making of the film itself. Whilst Taylor Hackford has the tendency to lead everything, James Woods in particular pitches in with some lovely stuff. I especially like his comment about "doing love scenes with Rachel Ward by the numbers...yeah, right". There might have been some liquid refreshment consumed during this effort, but it really is quite an amusing look at the film at times, with some nice trivia stuff included. A fine inclusion in the package.

R4 vs R1

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

    Apart from the inclusion of a couple of trailers for other films on the Region 1 release (no doubt lost because of the plethora of subtitles in Region 4), there appears to be no difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases, making Region 4 the region of choice with the inherent superiority of the PAL system.

Summary

    Anything but a classic film, but still an enjoyable enough effort that has been blessed with another of those very good Columbia TriStar remasterings. Fans of the film should not hesitate, and all others would be well advised to at least give this a rental.

    A very nice video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    A very good extras package, especially for a film of its age.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, February 02, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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