Commando [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (15th May 2008).
The Film

“Commando” and I have an interesting history, as a child it was one of the many action films I saw on network television, edited for TV of course but with the intense violence taken out it was still a great actioner and one that stuck with me for many years. I recall replaying the scenes with friends in my backyard with makeshift machine guns, later graduating to super-soaker water guns and so forth. In my childhood there were several action icons that influenced my style of play, Arnold was the first on the list, Stallone was also on it. But Arnold was king of the action domain. He was bigger, his movies were louder and he had the best tag lines.

“Commando” is one of those films that does not age well, nor does it view well on repeated viewings, especially as an adult. It’s one where the memory of the film outweighs the actual greatness of it. Still I’m glad for the opportunity to see it again after so many years and reminisce about all those summer days playing in my backyard.

The film tells the story of John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) a retired commando whose daughter (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped by his former friend and team member Bennett (Vernon Wells) who now works for an exiled dicator. He only has a few hours to find his daughter and take down all those involved in her kidnapping, with the help of a flight attendant, Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) who gets caught up in all this trouble. What ensues is over the top action and destructions on a mass scale.

From the outset, “Commando” makes no apologies for the type of film it is, the cheesy opening sequence were we see Matrix and his Daughter Jenny doing all manner of activities from eating ice cream to feeding a deer and playing around in a pool. The credit sequence establishes the relationship and the motivation for Matrix to unleash hell on his daughter’s kidnappers. It’s hard to watch this sequence considering how awfully corny it really is. Moving on the film’s action begins rather quickly, as we see the sets the bad guys take to set-up their scheme until Jenny’s untimely kidnapping, which sends Matrix into a frenzy.

While on the run to find her captors he meets up with Cindy, a flight attendant whose only role is to be the most annoying female character in the entire film. Why does she need to tag along? Why doesn’t Matrix ditch her? She’s not crucial to the plot and is in reality dead weight, the only reason I can see her character existing is that the producer must have wanted to inject a female character into the film to take off some of the macho edge, which the film has plenty of by the way. Oh well.

The film is incredibly silly, on almost everything level, but despite this it is entertaining. Everything is just so over the top it’s almost laughable, but Arnold makes it work with his sly smile and brainless bravado. Locking and loading and tearing into the third act with enough bullets and explosions to make any terrorist group jealous, he single-handedly takes out 81 people in the film and of course gets his daughter back. He’s a one-man army that no one should mess with.

Of course there are plenty of one-liners here, my favourites include “let off soe steam, Bennett.” As well as “Remember Sully, when I promised to kill you last?...I lied.” And of course there “I eat green berets for breakfast.” It’s a veritable tag-line-fest, if there’s anything first time viewers will take away from the film it’s the many memorable lines in which Arnold delivers with gusto.

“Commando” is exactly what 80’s action should be, big, dumb and loud. It’s like the early ape in the evolutionary chart of action films. Get it if you absolutely love it, otherwise leave it…there are better and more intelligent action films out there.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p 24/fps, the transfer has been truck using MPEG-2 compression. Having just reviewed "Predator" I was expecting this film would fare the same. And it's a bit worse to be honest. The film's source material really does need a decent spruce, the image is not all that flattering considering the amount of high quality stuff I've already on this format. The image needs to be remastered and redone for this title. Where to start? The image is not as sharp as I would have liked, shadow detail is way off and the overall image looks flat. Colors are not as bright, bold or vibrant as they could be. Grain is all over the place, granted this was shot in the 80's and film stock back then is not what it is today, but the noise is just plain distracting at times. The positives are that despite these flaws the image as a whole is a step up from the previous DVD releases. Skin tones appear natural and there is minimal dirt, although some at the start can be seen but overall the image is fairly clean.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 as well as tracks in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround as well as Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track, and just like "Predator" this film also includes a rather lackluster audio track. While dialogue is clear and distortion free, action scenes erupt and are aggressive to a point, but overall the track lacked punch, lacked enough ambient sounds and depth. The range was there and handled the quieter bits (of which there aren't many) through to the explosive action well. It's not what I was expecting.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

Fox has released this film with it's theatrical trailer, bonus trailers and is enabled with D-Box track. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 50 seconds.

Also featured are a collection of bonus trailers for:

- "Alien vs. Predator" which runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds.
- "Behind Enemy Lines" which runs for 2 minutes 26 seconds.
- "Phone Booth" which runs for 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- "Planet of the Apes" which runs for 54 seconds.
- "The Transporter" which runs for 1 minute 26 seconds.

Finally for those with the capability this disc is D-Box enabled.

Overall

It's really hard to recommend this disc even for die-hard fans of the film, considering the image and sound are not up to scratch when it comes to HD. I'd wait for a better version, with remastered and restored image as well as decent extras.

The Film: C Video: C Audio: B- Extras: D- Overall: C-

 


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