Sudden Death

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 105:30 minutes Other Extras Production Notes
Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (56:27)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Peter Hyams

Columbia Tristar
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Powers Boothe
Raymond J. Barry
Dorian Harewood
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music John Debney

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Region 4
English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes
Region 2
English for the Hearing Impaired
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    One thing you've got to admire about Jean-Claude Van Damme is his consistency. He keeps churning out the turkeys, nice and consistently. Sudden Death is one of his better turkeys, but when the highlight of the movie is the background ice hockey action, there has to be something wrong somewhere.

    This is a strictly-by-the-numbers, cliché-ridden Van Damme vehicle. JCVD plays Darren, an ex-fireman who takes his ex-wife's kids to the ice hockey. Unfortunately, a VERY BAD GUY (Powers Boothe) is there, too. We can tell that he is the VERY BAD GUY because he dresses smartly, wears an expensive watch, speaks politely, and shoots people for no reason at all. This particular VERY BAD GUY wants money, and lots of it or otherwise he kills hostages. He has wired the ice hockey stadium with bombs which will be exploded if his demands are not met. Somehow or other, through an AMAZING COINCIDENCE, JCVD's daughter ends up a hostage as well.

    Let's see if you can guess the rest of the plot; JCVD gets really really mad, JCVD kills various underlings working his way up to the VERY BAD GUY, JCVD faces off against the VERY BAD GUY.

    One thing I just have to say is that I believe that this film holds the record for the longest amount of time spent at the start of a movie before JCVD gets into his kick-boxing routine; a whole 36 minutes goes by without a kick in sight.

Transfer Quality


    This is a disappointing transfer, though I suspect a lot of this has to do with the source material.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was generally quite sharp, however a lot of the movie is shot in very low lighting conditions. Shadow detail, unfortunately, in these scenes was severely lacking. Far too many shots depicted large areas of blackness with no detail whatsoever apparent. Low level noise was not a problem.

    The colours were variably rendered, from the limited colouration of the darker scenes, to the truly vibrant colouration of the ice hockey action.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Film to video artefacts consisted of considerably more aliasing than I am used to seeing in contemporary transfers. This was another disappointing aspect of this transfer. Film artefacts were few and far between.

    Subtitles can be selected via the remote control, and all subtitles are available via the remote, no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The subtitle menu, however, is dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed during Chapter 22, at 56:27. The layer change is well placed and minimally intrusive.


    The audio tracks available on this DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. They are selectable via the audio menu, and via the remote control. All audio tracks are selectable via the remote control at all times.

    There are seven audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, and Polish Dolby Digital 1.0. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by John Debney is marginally above average for an action score, with the music appropriately underscoring the on-screen action.

    The surround channels were aggressively used to support the action sequences, with music and special effects being aggressively placed in the surround channels.

    The .1 channel was aggressively but very unevenly used to support the action sequences. At times, the .1 channel would be overbearing and draw attention to itself, and at other times, it would lend no support whatsoever to the on-screen action. This would often occur during a single sequence so some parts of the sequence were overly accentuated and other parts of the sequence were lacking in punch. A number of scenes with the helicopter fall into this category. The nett result is that the subwoofer kept calling attention to itself because it was either too loud or too soft.


    There is a limited selection of extras on this disc.


Production Notes

Cast & Crew Biographies

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 version of this film is Pan & Scan only and has the same extras as the Region 4 version. If you really must own this film on DVD, then clearly our version is the superior version because it is in the correct theatrical aspect ratio.


    Sudden Death. Jean-Claude Van Damme. Need I say more?

    The video quality is disappointing, but I suspect that this is more a source problem than a transfer problem.

    The audio quality is variably enveloping, with a very uneven .1 channel.

    The extras are passable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
9th November 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of 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