Notorious Mr. Bout (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (12th October 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

The Notorious Mr. Bout is the fascinating story that follows Viktor Bout, a Russian entrepeneur, a war profiteer, an aviation magnate, an arms smuggler and, strangest of all, an amateur filmmaker.

Until three days prior to his 2008 arrest on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, Bout kept the camera running, documenting a life spent in the grey areas of international law.

Dubbed 'The Merchant of Death' and portrayed by Nicolas Cage in Hollywood's Lord of War, Viktor Bout can justifiably be called the world's most famous arms dealer.

With unprecedented access to Bout's home movies and DEA surveillance material gathered during the sting operation to bring him down, The Notorious Mr. Bout is a portrait of a life much mythologised but little understood.


Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment continue to release documentaries that have aired as part of the BBC's Storyville series with "The Notorious Mr Bout". This DVD release is the worldwide home media debut, and features an anamorphic transfer in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

It goes without saying for a documentary that features heavy archive footage, that the quality of this transfer is very mixed, though that is down to the source materials. A lot of the footage we view is of VHS quality, using natural lighting and sound due to being filmed 'on the fly' and the home made basis of a lot of the filming. There is a lot of blockiness, and aliasing is prevalent throughout, with details lacking clarity and sharpness. Colours can be very washed out and soft, whilst at other times, they feel rather harsh. Despite all these flaws, we can't hold the distributor responsible as it is most certainly out of their control. The home made feel does make the documentary more immersive due to the way it is easier to feel connected to Viktor Bout, and see his character in a more personal way.

The documentary is uncut and runs 86:20.


Two audio options are included here:
- Russian/English Dolby Digital 5.1
- Russian/English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing, I opted to view this documentary using the Russian/English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which, like the transfer, is a mixed bag. The surrounds aren't used for the dialogue or for environmental effects, which was the right decision when you consider the source material. Instead, the surrounds are essentially kept for the score by Will Bates, and Fall On Your Sword. The score adds emphasis where required, but doesn't overpower the dialogue. Dialogue is unfortunately not always clear (again, down to the source material), but when this happens during English dialogue, subtitles are included. It's an adequate track with no surprises.

English subtitles are included for Russian dialogue and mumbled English dialogue only. They are forced.


The main extra is a series of deleted scenes:
- "Alla About at Home in Moscow" (2:39)
- "Diamond Prospecting" (6:54)
- "Viktor Sings Karaoke" (3:37)
These scenes are all interesting for different reasons. The first helps us understand more about Viktor Bout in jail, with Alla showing us through a book. The second features Viktor exploring the possibility of digging for diamonds. The third has Viktor singing karaoke. I imagine they were cut for pacing, but they are an interesting and welcome addition to the disc. I'm sure there was hundreds of hours of footage for the film makers to go through, so it must have been tough to decide what made the final version.

The rest of the extras are self-explanatory:
Start-up Trailers (4:25):
- "Camp 14" (1:58)
- "The Short Game" (2:26)
Theatrical Trailer (1:31)


This is an interesting documentary, and essential viewing for anyone who wants to know the true story behind Viktor Bout, the man Nicolas Cage portrayed in the film "Lord of War". Unfortunately, the A/V quality leaves a lot to be desired, but this is down to the low quality sources of the archive footage, and in no way the fault of the film-makers or distributor. Recommended for documentary fans.

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


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