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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Driven to Kill



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#1 of 6 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

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Posted May 26 2009 - 09:44 AM


Driven to Kill (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jeff F. King

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 2009
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
Region: A
MSRP: $ 29.99

Release Date: May 19, 2009
Review Date: May 26, 2009


The Film

1/5

Steven Seagal is still making movies? Who knew? Actually, his latest effort Driven to Kill is a movie in name only. Oh, it has the usual quota of bullets, blows, and blood, but its leading man is so bloated and thick of speech that the film seems drugged, almost on life support. No amount of razor-edged cutting and thousands of rounds of ammunition can hide the fact that this film’s script, direction, and acting are from hunger. What a sad spectacle for someone who once commanded A-list budgets and ranked among the top ten box-office stars. Driven to Kill is one dire movie.

On the day of his daughter’s (Laura Mennell) wedding to the son (Dmitry Chepovetsky) of a Russian mob boss (Igor Jijikine), former Russian mobster-turned-pulp novelist Ruslan Drachev (Steven Seagal) learns that his ex-wife (Inna Korobkina) and his daughter have been victims of a home invasion with the ex-wife killed and the daughter seriously injured. The motive seems unclear until we learn that the mobster’s son had refused to join the mob, and his father had done this partly to bring his son in line. Ruslan’s ex-wife’s new husband Terry (Robert Wisden) also seems strangely unmoved by the events of the day, so Ruslan makes it his job to get to the bottom of the plot against his ex-wife and daughter and bring his kind of justice to those who deserve it.

Yes, the predictable ebb and flow of this trite stalk and revenge story (script by Mark James) leaves no room for surprise revelations or unusual twists and turns. It’s paint-by-the-numbers filmmaking without a brain in its head or an ounce of originality in its soul. We know Seagal’s taciturn former mobster is going to clean house with a combination of bare knuckle brawling and martial arts, expert knife handling, and with multiple sprays of machine gun and automatic firepower (though one must quickly add that Seagal’s Ruslan is a lousy shot; all that fired ammunition, and there are still bad guys standing at the end that he must settle the score with through other means). There is a lot of trash talk back and forth with these Russians about being “a real man,” and I predicted when the final confrontation arrived, it would be with fists, you know, “real man” stuff. I wasn’t wrong (though the final coup de grâce does involve a pistol).

Is there any need to discuss the acting? Steven Seagal mutters and mumbles with a vaguely fluctuating Russian accent (that also comes and goes), but he has only his hulking presence to use as a screen weapon. Any speed he’s supposed to possess as a badass is now supplied by the film editor who jazzes up his standard arm and feet movement with rapid-fire editing meant to suggest the character’s razor-sharp reflexes and split-second timing. Robert Wisden’s smarmy new husband comes closest to a characterization, but the script does him no favors. Dmitry Chepovetsky also seems to be trying hard to inject some human emotions into the role of husband-to-be Stephan, determined to thwart his father’s efforts to enlist him in the gang lifestyle. He, too, can only do so much with such mundane action and direction.


Video Quality

2/5

The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. This is among the worst Blu-ray transfers I’ve seen with varying grain levels and an image that’s never better than average in sharpness and sometimes much worse. Color also fluctuates from acceptable to drab, and flesh tones generally drift toward being too brown and hot. Details often get obscured in the shadows. There are also scenes that feature crawling pixels, a definite distraction. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.

Audio Quality

2.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is only stereo in nature with neither music by Peter Allen nor the noisy sound effects ever occupying anything but the front channels. No effort at all has been made to pan the shots through the soundstage resulting in a front centric mix that’s a distinct letdown. Dialogue isn’t always clearly discernable either, and often I had trouble knowing whether the actors were speaking Russian or simply mumbling indecipherable English. (There are very few subtitles to tip one off as to which language is being spoken.)

Special Features

0/5

Apart from 1080p trailers for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wrong Turn 3, The Marine II, and 12 Rounds, there are no bonus features.


In Conclusion

1/5 (not an average)

One of the saddest excuses for an action movie it’s been my displeasure to watch in recent months, Driven to Kill is bargain basement filmmaking at its worst. What it’s doing on Blu-ray with such a disappointing picture and a mere stereo soundtrack masquerading as a surround track is a much more interesting mystery than anything present on the disc in question.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 6 Parker Clack

Parker Clack

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Posted May 27 2009 - 05:20 PM

I don't think he has had a movie in the theater for years and almost everything is straight to video. I am thinking this movie was done the same way. I really feel for him as he has really gone down hill over the last several years.

"I tried to get my medical records from the company but they say they

are confidential and can only be released to other insurance companies,

pharmaceutical​ reps, suppliers of medical equipment and for some

reason the RNC."
 


#3 of 6 Mr. Pacino

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Posted May 27 2009 - 08:11 PM

His last big hit was "Exit Wounds" in 2001 but then he gained weight again and made a bad movie called "Half Past Dead". That was his end.....

It´s a shame that he only had a couple of good years because he was the greatest martial artist on screen since Bruce Lee.
He was indeed a bad actor but he was very charismatic. His first five movies were great. The martial arts in it were superb.....

I loved him in "Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice and Under Siege, of course....

#4 of 6 Gary Seven

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Posted May 28 2009 - 02:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Pacino
It´s a shame that he only had a couple of good years because he was the greatest martial artist on screen since Bruce Lee.

It's amazing what special effects and quick edits can achieve.

#5 of 6 ImreM

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Posted May 28 2009 - 04:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Pacino
I loved him in "Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice and Under Siege, of course....

Ditto. I keep watching every new direct-to-DVD movie he does hoping for a turnaround, but it just keeps getting worse. This was truly awful. I swear I couldn't understand half the dialog he was muttering.

Personally I think he jumped the shark when he started making movies where the bad guys were no longer murderers and mafia types and drug pushers, but evil mining companies, big oil, and bio weapons. It all got a little preachy, and he did several of those in a row. There was a glimmer of hope with "Exit Wounds", but even that wasn't up to his old standards.

Not that the old standards ever included great stories or dialogue; it was always the action that kept people coming back. But since he's been so completely out of shape, the action isn't there anymore, and no amount of editing can make you believe it is.

--I.M.

#6 of 6 AL KUENSTER

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Posted May 28 2009 - 09:05 AM

Too bad I used to enjoy his movies.
Al Kuenster





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