Two Hands

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Cast & Crew Interviews
Cast & Crew Biographies
Theatrical Trailer
Year Released 1998
Running Time 89:16
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Gregor Jordan
REP Distribution
Universal Pictures Video
Starring Heath Ledger
Bryan Brown
David Field
Susie Porter
Rose Byrne
Mariel McClory
Steve Le Marquand
Tom Long
Steve Vidler
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Cezary Skubiszewski

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When I was thinking about what category I should put Two Hands under, many thoughts crossed my mind. Comedy? Well, yes, there are definitely some funny sections through it, but it's not really a comedy. Black Comedy? Yes, that certainly suits it a little better than Comedy. Romance? No, not really. There are some romantic bits in it, interspersed amongst all the Action, but then again it's not an Action movie, either. In the end I settled for the totally inadequate category of Drama, which really does not do this movie justice. Maybe I should create a new genre - Great Australian Movies, a category for movies as diverse as The Castle, Mad Max, Cosi and Shine, movies that are uniquely Australian in their skewed viewpoint and sensibilities, and their self-effacing humour.

    Jimmy (Heath Ledger) is a child of King's Cross. His background is not really spelled out for us, but we know he has a brother who was brutally murdered because of an unpaid debt and he works as a bouncer for a sleazy strip joint. We also know that he is handy in a fist-fight. Pando (Bryan Brown) is the hoodlum king of King's Cross, involved in numerous shady dealings, and most definitely extremely villainous and dangerous. Everybody wants to work for Pando, as he is their ticket out of the sleaze into the high life.

    Jimmy is given a job to do; deliver $10,000 across town, no questions asked. Unfortunately, circumstances intervene, with a series of unfortunate (and often wryly funny) incidents resulting in him losing the $10,000. Clearly, Pando will not be pleased with this turn of events, so Jimmy desperately seeks a way to acquire $10,000. The most logical way for him to do this is to rob a bank, which he duly does. I never thought a bank robbery could be both dramatic and funny at the same time, but this one is.

    Complicating matters somewhat is Alex (Rose Byrne), who has recently moved to Sydney from the country, and who forms an instant attraction to Jimmy (and vice versa).

    Two Hands has it all; action, drama, humour, unfortunate co-incidences, the para-normal, and some stunningly violent moments that catch you completely unawares. This is a great Australian movie. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it, although be aware that it is MA-rated and earns this rating with copious swearing and glimpses of some really nasty violence at times, so it definitely isn't one for the kiddies.

Transfer Quality


    This is the first Universal Pictures Video DVD authored in Australia by Digital Video Mastering, and so it was with great interest that I slipped the pre-production DVD-R into my DVD player. I was advised that only minor changes to some of the menu text will be made, but both the audio and visual aspects of the transfer are the same as the production disc will be.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of exactly 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is uniformly sharp and clear throughout, although some of the rapid motion camerawork taxed the quality of the image to its limits. Shadow detail is generally good. The early part of the movie is a tad dark, but this seems to be inherent in the source material. I would strongly recommend watching this DVD in an environment with strongly controlled lighting conditions for best results because large portions of it are set in darker locales. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are accurately rendered, and even vibrant at times, although the great majority of the movie shows the gritty colouration of this seedy part of town. Gaudy splashes of colour, such as in neon signs, were immaculately rendered with no colour bleeding or smearing, and were a highlight of this transfer.

    No significant MPEG artefacts were seen. If you paused the image on some of the more rapidly moving scenes, you could see a hint of background pixelization, but this was invisible at normal playback speed. Aliasing was remarkably absent from this transfer, despite frequent images of objects that are aliasing-prone on show, particular cars with copious amounts of chrome. Film artefacts were also remarkably absent from this transfer, and I can say that I did not notice a single one.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only a single audio track on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, which I listened to.

    Dialogue was beautifully captured by this soundtrack and was clearly audible at all times, other than the odd highly-accented phrase from Jimmy's elderly neighbour which I had a little trouble understanding.

    Audio sync was marginal for the first 10 minutes or so of the movie, but after that settled down to be excellent for the rest of the movie.

    The music was composed by Cezary Skubiszewski, and perfectly suited the movie in conjunction with the numerous contemporary pieces of music.

    The surround channel was used remarkably well by this soundtrack, with frequent ambient sounds being placed in the rear, creating an excellent surrounding soundfield. Action sequences were aggressively mixed into the rears, and even dialogue-only scenes tended to have enough surround activity to not collapse into mono. All-in-all, this is one of the better matrix soundtracks that I have had the pleasure of listening to.

    The .1 channel was not specifically encoded, but plenty of redirected bass appropriately made it to the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Menu Audio

Cast & Crew Interviews

    Standard Electronic Press Kit-style interviews.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Notable in that they are very legible indeed, far more legible than is usually the case.

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

    There appears to only be one other version of this DVD in the world - in Region 2, and this is a Full Frame version of the movie. Ergo, the Region 4 version is the version of choice.


    Two Hands is a great Australian movie, presented beautifully on DVD. Let's have more of the same, Universal!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
3rd November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the RGB input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Denon AVD-1000 DTS AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials and the NTSC DVD version of The Ultimate DVD Demo Disc.
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; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer