Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by David Fincher
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 139 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 surround English, 5.1 Spanish, Portuguese; DTS 5.1 French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, others
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Review Date: November 18, 2009
David Fincher’s provocative, hilarious, exciting, and nerve-jangling black comedy Fight Club knocks you down, picks you back up, coddles you, and then pulls the rug out from under your feet, and you love him for doing it. Bursting with stimulating ideas and presented in a razor-edged, non-stop assault on the senses, Fight Club is like no other film. Yes, there is some untidiness in the construction and execution, but its overall effect is close to overwhelming, and it’s certainly not a film you can take in fully with one viewing. It may not be for all tastes, but you can’t deny that you leave a viewing feeling overwhelmed with everything you’ve just seen and heard.
A product liability evaluator and insomniac (Edward Norton who serves as the film’s narrator) finds his life empty until he becomes addicted to self-help groups where he meets another restless, edgy soul named Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), but his world is really turned upside down when he meets a sado-masochistic radical Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) who is secretly plotting to overthrow civilization. As their friendship grows, they become increasingly involved in a secret society of "fight clubs" where emasculated men act out their aggressions and violently beat one another to a pulp. The narrator at first feels liberated by his new sense of power over his life choices, but a growing sense that Tyler is spinning out of control makes him begin to reevaluate their relationship as he begins investigating the depths of Tyler’s anarchist machinations.
“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything” is one of Tyler Durden’s life lessons, one of the many homilies that pour from his lips in Jim Uhls’ skittish screenplay (adapted from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk). Director David Fincher has taken the iconoclastic world view set forth in Tyler Durden’s ramblings and graphically put it on the screen in a startling and frankly overwhelming series of dynamic images with a constantly moving camera that grips the attention and never surrenders its hold until the last staggering images have faded from the screen. It’s clearly not meant to be an action movie, but there’s action aplenty, not only with the brutal brawls in dark basements and parking lots, but with Tyler’s unbalanced sense of urgency, there’s a stream of chaotic scenes that keeps us constantly unsettled. The continual surprises in emotions within changing personalities are breath-catching, and if the climactic encounter between the narrator and Tyler seems a bit of a letdown, there’s no denying those final images are knockouts (and with the film released originally in 1999, eerily prophetic of images we’d all see over and over again just a few years later.)
Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have a kind of snappy teamwork that is wonderful to witness, and their performances only grow in power with each new viewing: Norton unbalanced and always on edge and Pitt coolly swaggering and charismatic. Helena Bonham Carter does a brilliant job masking her British accent as she essays a street-wise chippie who’s up for anything. Meat Loaf has a terrific time as the emotionally naked and giving Bob Paulsen, while Jared Leto has a moment or two of spotlight time as Angel Face whose very beauty that Tyler admires is so willfully destroyed by the narrator.
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The image transfer perfectly captures the slightly desaturated but brazenly sharp and clear picture from a source that’s wonderfully free of age-related artifacts (the film is celebrating its tenth anniversary). DNR does not appear to have been applied to the image leaving its grain intact, the black levels as deep as can be, and thus resulting in a film-like appearance that’s everything the film’s fans will want it to be. The film has been divided into 36 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is one of the great ones from the end of the 20th century. The expansive spread of the Dust Brothers’ techno score is impressive from the start, and the front and rear channels are almost never silent from the constant mix of ambient sounds as helicopters whiz by, sirens screech, and the fight crowds scream for their favorites. The car crash sequence alone proves what a truly great sound mix can do for in-home excitement. This is reference quality sound in anyone’s book.
There are four audio commentary tracks including two with director David Fincher, a solo effort and one with co-stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton (with Helena Bonham Carter’s comments edited in). Other tracks are with screenwriter Jim Uhls and original novelist Chuck Palahniuk, and a technical commentary track with production designer Alex McDowell, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, costume designer Michael Kaplan, and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug. Each one has pertinent comments about his various areas of expertise (Fincher’s solo track is the most subdued) and is worth a listen.
“A Hit in the Ear: Ren Klyce and the Sound Design of Fight Club” is a new feature exclusive to this Blu-ray edition of the movie. Sound designer Ren Klyce takes part in this interactive 1080p discussion and experimentation with the sound in the film. He introduces four segments of the movie talking about where sounds were appropriated to fit those moments, and then the viewer is allowed to manipulate the sound mix using his remote. The four segments are “Welcome to Fight Club,” “Angel Face’s Beating,” “The Crash,” and the “Kudzu Vine Speech.” This feature requires Bonus View enabled players.
The “I Am Jack Search Index” offers an alphabetical listing of hundreds of names and topics from the film. Choosing one takes the viewer instantly to that part of the film featuring the actor, character, or incident with a suitable part of the commentary track turned on discussing the selected item. The Insomniac Mode also offers the user the ability to pull up a menu of the four commentaries with topic headings which change as the movie plays so one can select the commentary where topics seem most interesting.
“Flogging Fight Club” is a 10-minute segment from the Spike TV Man Awards where Fight Club earned a recent prize. David Fincher, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt are on hand to accept the trophy (gold plated deer antlers) and gleefully read some of the negative reviews the film earned in its initial release. This is in 1080i.
The Behind the Scenes section of the bonus features offers a succession of vignettes which can be viewed from a number of angles and with a number of audio tracks. There are six different featurettes concerning production problems (choosing locations and setting up shots in certain scenes), nine different featurettes dealing with various special effects sequences, and a 5 ½-minute On Location featurette. All are in 480i.
There are seven deleted/alternate scenes. They must be chosen separately at which time the viewer is offered a choice of watching the scene or occasionally a second featurette showing the dropped scene being shot. All are in 480i.
The publicity material section (all of which must be chosen separately; there is no “play all” feature) contains three theatrical trailers, seventeen TV spots, two PSA’s (one with Norton, one with Pitt), the “This Is Your Life” music video (3 ½ minutes), and galleries with lobby cards, the tongue-in-cheek press kit, and movie stills, all of which can be stepped through. There is also a text based interview with Edward Norton which occurred at Yale University after the release of Fight Club.
Separate art galleries are also available for stepping through with hundreds of storyboards, visual effects stills, Paper Street House designs, costume and makeup sketches, preproduction paintings, and a brain-ride map (from the film's opening).
4.5/5 (not an average)
Fight Club joins other notable David Fincher projects that combine challenging ideas with gut-jolting energy and execution that make them utterly unique. The Blu-ray release is beautifully delivered with reference quality picture and sound and a welcome slate of both new and old extras that fans of the film are sure to treasure. Highly recommended!