Sony // 1999 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // June 17th, 2000
A detective on the hunt for a new kind of killer.
It is rather typical B movie stuff to combine kinky sex with a "hard-boiled hard-drinking detective tracking a serial killer" movie. This is a fairly typical B movie, though incoherent in story, poorly written and edited, and an altogether failed attempt to entertain on any but a titillation level. Unfortunately the transfer is rather poor as well on this atypical Columbia DVD.
The acting is actually pretty decent. Dolph Lundgren, known mainly for B-movies and action pictures, is pretty convincing as a functioning drunk who is trying to find out who killed his estranged brother and why. That is pretty much the story; though punctuated with plenty of S&M and bondage scenes to try to raise an err...eyebrow or two. It seems his brother, a well-respected member of the community, was found dead while naked and bound in an elaborate pattern probably requiring many feet of rope. This leads the ex-cop to have to move through the sleazy underbelly of kinky sex in order to find his answers. Stop me if you've heard this story a hundred times before. You have? Good.
There was some potential for goodness in the locations, production, and set design, which was fine. Director Anthony Hickox, scion of a distinguished family of filmmakers, is at home in the low budget B movie department, and I'm sure is capable of doing a decent B-movie that is at least worth the hour and a half you put into it.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, at least for the film itself, is pretty good, with plenty of spaciousness in the front and good bass response. The thumping beat in the score comes out just fine. Dialogue is audible if not quite crystal clear. The menus are pretty good, better than the film by far.
The extras aren't too bad either. Comprehensive cast and crew bios and filmographies are offered, along with a trailer and a director's commentary track. Director Anthony Hickox carps throughout the track about how badly the film got mucked up by being made by committee. I found it ironic how for a very cheaply made film so many people had to have their fingers in the pie. Dolph Lundgren was considered "the big name actor" of the film and was given extraordinary powers over casting, editing, and just about everything else. The studio seemed to be all over it as well; providing some 300 editing directives to the director. There is a saying that an elephant is a mouse made by a committee, and we have quite an elephant here folks, though it has no more impact than a mouse.
Everything you heard so far doesn't sound too bad. But the film stinks. The film stinks like gym socks somebody wore for a month straight. The plot moves along and you simply cannot follow how the actors get to the next point, or make the next discovery. There is a mystery to be solved here, but you have no idea how most of it gets solved. It just jumps around and even when supposedly you get the answers even these scenes don't make sense; leaving a feeling of incomprehension and frustration. Probably the editing by committee is responsible for this.
I could go on about the decision to make this a story set in the '70s and use classic '70s methods of filmmaking, but I won't bother. What I'll get to next is how disappointed I am in Columbia releasing a disc in this shape. The first two selling points on the back of the case are "16 x 9 enhanced" and "1.85:1 widescreen." What I saw was an incredibly bad pan and scan transfer, with half of people cut out of the picture and even parts of names in the opening credits shaved off. The transfer looks poor as well; with excessive grain and an overly soft image, like a very grainy videotape. Colors are fine, but shadow detail is murky and there is again the ever-present grain.
Addendum and apology here: Apparently the disc, on my player, defaulted to a pan and scan mode; a problem I'd heard about other people having with some discs on some players, but it is the first disc in over 300 that has done that to me. Resetting my monitor settings on my player did bring back a letterboxed image, and I need to apologize to Columbia for claiming they had falsely advertised it. That said, the picture was still poor, just now you could see what was on the sides. I'm sure Columbia could do nothing better with the source elements, as there wasn't really any artifacting, just a very soft, fuzzy picture with lots of grain.
The result is a bad film with a poor picture. While not quite the total disaster I thought at first viewing, it's still bad. You'd have to be a very big Dolph Lundgren fan who wants the complete collection to want this one. Unless that is the case, don't buy it. Don't watch it. Don't rent it. You've been warned. Even the titillation aspect of it isn't very good, and it's the only conceivable reason to watch it. I've got as much testosterone as the next guy, and the bits of nudity and seeing people all tied up and no place to go got boring fast amidst an incoherent and insipid film.
The film is sentenced to instant obscurity even in the direct to video market path it undoubtedly made. Columbia is acquitted for their other fine work, and lets just forget this one happened.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Director's Commentary Track
* Cast and Crew Info