Crank [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (28th February 2007).
The Film

Did you know that the video game industry makes more money than Hollywood does in a year? And as a result each major company is vying for a bigger slice of the pie, developing digger budget games for PC and also for the ever popular consoles such as Microsoft's XBOX, the Nintendo Wii and the Sony Playstation 3. Some of the bigger titles such as "Grand Theft Auto" and the insanely popular "Halo" series even have bigger production budgets than most mainstream movies. So you can see that Hollywood also wants a piece of that pie, developing games for their movies, licensing characters and franchises but also adapting video games into films. Only a few have actually been successful like the "Resident Evil" (2002-2007) series and many floundering after release as they struggle to find an audience (mainly because they were poor films to begin with) such as the many terrible films made by Uwe Boll. "Crank" has all the marking of a violent video game adaptation, but it's not. It's a film that certainly tries to capitalize on the violent video game market by incorporating as much adrenaline packed action in as little time possible. In fact "Crank" would make for a great video game, oops...I guess one already exists, it's called "Grand Theft Auto".
"Crank" tells the story of professional assassin Chev Chelios (Jason Statham), he works for a West Coast syndicate but is on his way out. He wants to spend his days with his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) instead of killing people for contract pay. But this dream becomes less and less a reality when he's injected by a lethal poison called 'the Beijing cocktail' by his long time rival, Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), the poison will kill him if his heart rate drops, so if he wants to live he must make sure to keep his body moving, while he tries to find answers, protect his girlfriend and exact his revenge on the people that did this to him before the poison actually kills him.
Right from the start you get the feeling that the filmmakers are video game fans as the opening credits feature an 80's style game graphics, the way the film was shot, the fast-paced editing and even what our hero Chev does in this film seems lifted from some popular games. The result is a chaotic action adventure that literally doesn't let up during the entire 87 minutes. This is certainly the type of movie for those that suffer from attention deficit disorder.
Like most other action films this one is about as brainless as a goldfish, the plot is thinner than rice paper and the supporting cast's acting is about on-par with porn stars, although Statham manages to do enough with this role. So the only reason you'd watch this film is for the action. The mind blowing ridiculous over-the-top senseless action which mixes well with the jittery camera techniques used often which can make you sick if you stare at it too long, luckily for us the filmmakers went through the Michael Bay school of editing and never stay with one shot longer than a few seconds at times cutting away to this, that and everything else. I was also impressed with the fact that the action and fight scenes incorporated no CGI and were all done without wire. Old school all the way and it looks good.
This film has all the density of a steel pipe, in fact it's probably one of the worst movies I've ever seen, however. And this is a big however: despite all this Statham makes for a decent action hero and the big dumb fun is just that...fun. So if you want to check your brain at the door and see some carnage then "Crank" makes the perfect 87 minute time killer.

Video

The film is presented in 1.85:1 in full 1080p 24fps high-definition, the transfer was compressed using MPEG-2 compression. This film was shot in HD and this transfer is taken right from the original HD master and the result is one of the best transfers I have [u>ever[/u> seen on the Blu-ray format. The image is as sharp as a razor blade, the colors feel like they are jumping off the screen but what impressed me the most was the astounding detail presented in each frame, you can see every blemish in the streets during the chases, in fact you can see the fine stubble on Statham's face it's so detailed you can probably count each hair (and I'm being serious). Lionsgate has given us what will likely be considered THE reference quality image to beat, This is a benchmark that they can be proud of.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included on this disc, an uncompressed English PCM 6.1 surround track as well as an English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view this film with its PCM track which does in fact read as 6.1 on my amp, however some have been able to decode 7.1 channels. Much like the phenomenal image this audio track will make your head explode. The dynamic range is second to none, the dialogue is crisp and clear and each channel pumps out aggressive sound. The mix is well balanced throughout the space and the music blasts through adding another level to this already impressive track.

Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired, English and Spanish.

Extras

Lionsgate has included a picture-in-picture commentary, a family friendly version of the film, a series of featurettes and a promo spot. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is the "Crank'd Out Mode" a picture-in-picture bommentary which features the directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor as well as cinematographer Adam Biddle along with star Jason Statham, while the film plays you will see a series of interviews and behind-the-scenes segments on how the film was made. Occasionally a beating heart icon will appear, clicking on it will take you to a look behind-the-scenes. The commentary combines both audio and visual elements as they provide information on the film as well as the various stunts they crafted for it among other things. It's a cool interactive feature that I'd like to see on more Blu-ray discs in the future.

When watching the film you can choose to view it with its uncut audio or you can select "Crank: Family Friendly" audio dub this version removes the swearing and replaces them with cleaner words, what I found funny about this was although the swear words are removed the violence and nudity, etc...are intact.

All of the featurettes on this disc are exclusive to this format. The first of which is "Shooting Crank" which runs for 7 minutes 10 seconds, this takes a look at the HD technology and shooting the film in this format. The filmmakers lay out the positive aspects of HD versus shooting on film.

Next up is "The Stunts of Crank" a featurette which runs for 14 minutes 25 seconds, this is a closer look at the stunts that Statham basically performed for the film as well as the talented stunt crew who all worked without the aid of CGI effects and eve wires as commonly seen now in most mainstream films. This gives the viewer an inside look at the challenges of coordinating these tricky and dangerous stunts.

Following that is "Pushing Crank" a featurette which runs for 6 minutes 21 seconds, this is a brief look at how the filmmakers got the film financed and the marketing of the film.

"Crank @ ComicCon" is a featurette that runs for 11 minutes 20 seconds and is the panel held at the 2006 San Diego Comic Convention and features directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor as well as the cast members Jason Statham and Efren Ramirez as they field fan questions.

"More Stories from Crank" is a featutette which runs for 25 minutes 18 seconds, this cool clip is a behind-the-scenes look at the various crew that worked on the film as they share they experiences in working on this film. It's sort of a video diary.

Rounding out the extras a Lionsgate Blu-ray promo spot that runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds.

Packaging

This Blu-ray disc is packaged in a standard blue case which is housed in a shiny cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: B+ Overall: B-

 


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