Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: S.W.A.T.

Michael Osadciw

Jun 24, 2003
Real Name
Michael Osadciw
Blu-ray Disc REVIEW


Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2003
Film Length: 117 minutes
Genre: Crime/Action

Aspect Ratio:
2.40:1 Theatrical Ratio

Film Resolution: 1080/24p
Special features: SD-480
Video Codec: MPEG-2
Colour/B&W: Colour

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1 Surround

English 5.1 Surround

French 5.1 Surround

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Thai
MPAA Rating:

Release Date: September 19, 2006

Film Rating:

Starring: Colin Farrell (Jim Street), Michelle Rodriguez (Chris Sanchez), Samuel L. Jackson (Sgt. Dan ‘Hondo’ Harrelson)

Written by: Ron Mita
Directed by: Clark Johnson

Even cops dial 911

In December 2003, I wrote the review for S.W.A.T. when it first came to DVD. I didn’t think the movie was that great; in fact I was disappointed. I feel the same way about the film’s messy focus but viewing it in HD can give a different level of enjoyment. I enjoyed watching the film’s excellent image and was marvelled at the film’s soundtrack, now delivered in uncompressed PCM 5.1. Even though movie wasn’t any better, the experience was better. I guess I can say I enjoyed the movie a little more this second time around. It’s interesting to note how the high definition experience makes one think this way for even the worst movies. It’s worth taking a second look in high def.

Instead of writing a new review for the film, I’ve included my 2003 review of the film below with a few minor edits.

S.W.A.T. was the summer 2003 hit film starring Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson and grossed over $116 million. The film is based on a popular TV series from the ‘70s that ran a season and a half, or to be more exact, 39 episodes. Executives pulled the plug on the show because it was viewed to be too violent for the masses on daytime television. The show was based on five S.W.A.T. guys out to kick some butt. In retrospect the guns and the violence in this show was really tame and is perceived as comical by today’s standards.

Of course, all TVs shows can find their way to the big screen especially if it’s an action flick. Since people are familiar with the title, all that was needed was a basic storyline, a couple of well known actors mixed up with crafty camera work, editing and voila! a summer blockbuster. Was it good? $119 million of consumer dollars says it is.

The opening sequence of the film captures the viewer to experience a re-enactment of a real event that took place in North Hollywood – a bank shoot-out. Looking at original tapes the producers recreated this as accurately as possible by using both film and news-video shot from the sky to set the mood of our special weapons and tactics team entering the bank. We learn that S.W.A.T. team members are people who one day will be sitting back enjoying a nice coffee and donut and in the next moment will have to make split second decisions against those who pose a threat and terror against hostages and property. These guys are under high-stress conditions and the opening sequence tries to communicate this to us somewhat successfully.

I actually felt like I was watching Top Gun. The events just all seemed to fall in the same sequence – partners working together, one disobeys, the get called into the office, one quits. The film needs this for story development to the ending.

The middle of the film is really just Jackson’s character putting some new S.W.A.T. recruits to work in training including the talents of Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Brian Van Holt, Josh Charles. Jeremy Renner plays the outcast S.W.A.T. member and Oliver Martinez as the captured foreign guy offering $100 million to anyone who can help him escape from the authorities.

The movie’s direction isn’t well focused as I found myself watching unlikely events. I felt that some parts were rather pointless, and characters of the S.W.A.T. recruits weren’t developed at all to help me understand them and their decisions. A lack of character development leaves me not knowing them and thinking, “Who cares?” when things come into full circle to its rather anti-climatic ending. But knowing this is a popcorn action flick, who cares about development and enjoy the movie!


I’ve decided to rank the video quality of these discs on a 1-10 scale. A Blu-Ray score of 5 will mean that it is similar to the best-looking DVD I can think of and the remaining 5-10 will be based on the extended resolution of Blu-Ray disc. I think this is the best way to rank these titles for now so I hope this will help you to determine what a reference HD disc is. As more BDs become available and authoring improves (as was in the early DVD days) the earliest titles I’ve ranked as “10” may not appear as “reference quality” anymore. Please note that I’m currently viewing this on a 1280x720 projector and I’m not even able to see half of the 1920x1080 information on this disc. In the simplest terms, instead of seeing 6x the resolution of DVD I’m only seeing 2.6x the improvement. Our display devices have a long way to go before we can see all of the picture information contained on these discs. This disc was reviewed on the Samsung BD-P1000 on a 35-foot Monster M1000HDMI to a calibrated PT-AE700 (6500K/5400K-B&W). The screen is a D110" (8-foot wide) Da-Lite Cinema Contour (w.Pro-Trim finish) and Da-Mat fabric.

I gave a positive review of the DVD picture quality, but the Blu-ray disc far surpasses DVD in every way. Contrast has improved in the sense that the picture looks brighter without sacrificing the integrity of deep black and bright whites. If anything, they are clearer and more defined and appears closer to the HD reality. Colours look excellent and look completely neutral. Skin tones look real on all people, and all colours seem to have the perfect amount of saturation to the point of just not being artificially altered. There is the occasional cool cast over the image for artistic purposes and this Blu-ray disc is successful a delivering the image to our theatres.

Edge enhancement, compression artefacts, film grain, and video noise are completely absent on this release. I think this is one of the best looking title Sony Pictures has given us to date. I am impressed and it further proves to me that Blu-ray is capable of delivering.

The aspect ratio is 2.40:1.



For the sake of consistency with the video, I’m going to rate uncompressed PCM (and eventually the lossless audio compression formats when available), as well as lossy Dolby Digital and DTS on a scale from 1-10. This rating is based on “satisfaction” – the highest score delivering the greatest amount of satisfaction and the lowest delivering the least. When defining satisfaction, I mean both the resolution of the audio as well as the sound design for the film. I’m listening for the best experience possible. Audio is reviewed using the Samsung BD-P1000’s decoding & DACs, a Marantz SR5400 for preamp/pass-through, 2 Anthem MCA-30 amps each on Transparent PowerLink Super, Dunlavy SC-IV (front), Dunlavy SC-I (center), Focus Audio FC-50 (surrounds), Mirage BPS-400 subwoofer (LFE), 4 Paradigm PW-2200 subwoofers on 2 Mirage LFX-3 crossovers (one sub for each main channel for audio

Neil Joseph

Senior HTF Member
Jan 16, 1998
Real Name
Neil Joseph
9.5/10, great. I picked this up some time ago but have not watched yet. Thanks for the review.

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