HD DVD Title: The Rundown
Screen format: 1080p/480i/480p 2.35:1
Studio: Universal Pictures (and Columbia Pictures)
First theatrically released: September 2003
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Widescreen/Fullscreen March 2004
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson, Ewan Bremner
Sound Formats: English, Spanish, French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, English DD 2.0
Length: 1 hour 45 minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
In The Rundown, Beck (The Rock), a “Recovery Specialist” is sent to find and return the son of a wealthy client from the Amazon. The son, Travis (Seann William Scott), a treasure hunter, has attracted the attention of the locals, including the town boss, Hatcher (Christopher Walken) when it is rumored that he has found a golden idol that has legendary power. Beck will have to use all of his talents to outwit both Travis and Hatcher to bring his man in, but he has pledged to avoid using gun fire to do so. Add in local beauty Mariana, a barmaid with a few secrets of her own, and Beck has his work cut out for him.
While I own The Rundown on DVD, it has remained in its shrink wrap since I first bought it. It seemed to be one of those titles that wasn’t really special, kind of a buddy movie starring a former wrestler and the guy best known for being Stiffler in the American Pie series. I have no idea why Christopher Walken isn’t on the front of either the DVD or this HD DVD disk or even well promoted on their rears, had I known he was in it I would have been much more likely to open it up and dig in.
I expected this to be a bit of a mix between Walking Tall (the remake!) and Midnight Run, and am happy to note that it is even better than I had hoped. Walken’s very presence makes this movie worth entry, but imagine my surprise when, after spotting him, I found an absolutely first rate video transfer and dynamic sound mix to boot. It’s a fun little movie, at first it seems like a kind of retread of the buddy picture genre but the decent comedy elements, well staged fight scenes and the great audio/video qualities help it rise above. Too bad the script and acting didn’t hold up to the rest of what this movie had going for it, it could have been a monster.
On the video, it is easily the best looking HD DVD I have seen yet. Sharpness you can cut yourself on. An amazingly lush and rich color palette. Zero edge enhancement. No macro blocking. No noise or grain that was notable. If you want to see what HD can do, this is the disk to get to show off your HD set. It is that simple. I have nothing to complain about on the visual side.
On the sound side, this is the disk that will test ALL of your speakers. First up we are treated to a truly holosonic mix that has gunfire, jungle sounds, and even rebel fighters swinging on vines coming at you from all angles. The bass just doesn’t stop either, deep rumbles that cruise from corner to corner and even had me checking to see if I had buttkickers installed in my couch, which I don’t! A great mix that has to be heard to be believed. It is up there with the best mixes I have heard on any DVD. Again, it's that simple.
Extras: Same as Pitch Black and Friday Night Lights, the extras are simply lifted from the DVD release and rehashed here in standard def. Dissapointing, but if like me you never saw them on DVD, at least there is a good batch of them: Full length commentary, Deleted scenes, behind the scenes with the stunt coordinators and the pyro experts, explore the Amazon with cast and crew, and a humorous look at the Rock with one of his monkey costars (really, a monkey, not Seann William Scott!). I’ll be giving these a look in the next few days, I’m especially interested in seeing the explosives one given how great they looked and sounded in the film. The strange Universal logo syndrome is also present here, no clips from the film are used in the menu, just the Universal logo, which is doubly odd since this is a joint venture with Columbia Pictures, something which I’m trying to learn more about since it seems…interesting given Sony’s push for BluRay.
I don’t give out scores or ‘recommended’ and ‘highly recommended’ tags in these quick looks, but rest assured the video and audio quality of this disk would push it somewhere in those heights despite the simple porting of extras from DVD and the mediocre script. The Rundown surprised me in a lot of ways, and I give it a thumbs up, check it out for a neat little popcorn muncher in the tradition of Midnight Run.
PS: Speaking of Midnight Run, I definitely caught a lot of parallels to that film in this one, especially given both have bounty hunters who just want to be… chefs?!? I almost expected a cameo from Mr. DeNiro himself, but a hidden cameo from another action hero (heh) didn’t hurt either!