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Blu-ray Review The Killer Elite Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    XenForo Template The Killer Elite Blu-ray Review

    With two first-rate stars and a top-notch supporting cast, a notable director, and a screenwriter of some renown, one’s expectations for The Killer Elite prove to be far greater than the movie that was produced. Occasionally gripping but at other times formless and fuzzy in focus and motivation, The Killer Elite really wastes most of the sterling ingredients it possesses, and we’re left, sadly, with a feebly spicy stew that’s not very nourishing.

    Posted Image


    Studio: MGM

    Distributed By: Twilight Time

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

    Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: PG

    Run Time: 2 Hr. 3 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

    keep case

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: All

    Release Date: 09/09/2014

    MSRP: $29.95




    The Production Rating: 3/5

    Working for an independent agency that assigns its agents to carry out the dirty jobs that the CIA doesn’t want to touch, Mike Locken (James Caan) and George Hansen (Robert Duvall) share a swinging bachelor pad and have all the women and dope they want. A routine protective detail of a mark (Helmut Dantine) goes south, however, when Hansen turns on his partner putting bullets in his elbow and knee effectively drumming him out of the agency. After a year or more of physical therapy, Locken is back despite initially getting laid off by bosses Collis (Arthur Hill) and Weyburn (Gig Young) and assigned to protect Yuen Chung (Mako), an Asian political leader, and his daughter (Tiana) using his new team of marksman Miller (Bo Hopkins) and driver Mac (Burt Young). But also assigned to kill the politician and his family is his old friend and now nemesis Hansen, a job Locken is eager to execute in order to even the score with Hansen.With the script going through several drafts by such esteemed writers as Reginald Rose before bearing the final credits by Stirling Silliphant and Marc Norman (though the script was tinkered with most days by director Sam Peckinpah and stars James Caan and Burt Young on the set), it’s no wonder that it seems a mishmash of ideas and ideologies and features four attack scenes (at the airport, in Chinatown, at a boathouse, and on board mothballed naval vessels) that are jumbled messes of badly staged and rather unconvincing action. There is a wild chase through the San Francisco streets that seems straight out of Bullitt, and even the moments leading up to the attacks where director Peckinpah does a good job of showing the noose tightening around the necks of the protagonists who seem somehow unaware of their danger still seem to lack motivation. The dialogue through much of the movie is flat and unremarkable (even a scene meant to be tongue-in-cheek hilarious with a dim-witted traffic cop and a newly extracted bomb ready to go off feels off and is protracted in its ironic swipe at authority). As usual in this kind of film, there’s a rat in high places pulling the strings, but though he’s identified reasonably early, we’re never given a clear indication of his motives: Is he a double agent? Does he plan to take over the agency and eliminate his partner? Was Locken getting too close to some discovery and needed to be taken out of the mix? These are all questions without answers.James Caan is best in the first half of the film as the carefree agent who must bear the ignominy of a duplicitous friend he trusted and then find reserves of steel within himself to endure the painful physical therapy in order to bounce back. Later, the faulty script lets him down as his own plans and motives become murky and lacking real drive. Robert Duvall, always a fascinating actor, disappears for long periods of time from the movie and is truly let down by the mediocre writing. Emmy and Tony-winner Arthur Hill and Oscar-winner Gig Young both deserve better than the characters they’re given to work with (Hill has the better of the two roles but still seems at sea on occasion with his character’s incentives). Bo Hopkins and Burt Young add some joviality to the film’s jumbled second half making them MVPs in giving the film any sense of entertainment apart from the back-to-back firepower sequences. Katy Heflin does a nice job as Mike’s nurse who also becomes his girl friend after he’s released from the hospital (though she disappears from view once the mission begins).


    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film’s 2.35:1 Panavision theatrical aspect ratio is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is very good throughout, and color is controlled consistently with appealing skin tones. There is some inconsistency in the contrast levels, and black levels vary from just okay to quite nice with more than decent details in the shadows. Though clear of dust specks, there are occasional marks of damage on the right side of the frame in the film’s second half. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is quite clearly a product of its era. Dialogue is nicely reproduced and mixes well with Jerry Fielding’s interesting and engaging music score and a plethora of sound effects. No age-related hiss, crackle, thumps, or hum mar the listening experience.


    Special Features Rating: 5/5

    Audio Commentary: film historians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, and Garner Simmons offer a very informative commentary track that doesn’t smack of sycophancy but rather calls the film out on its weaknesses as well as praising its strengths. A must listen.Isolated Score Track: Jerry Fielding’s wonderful background score is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.Passion and Poetry: Sam’s Killer Elite (27:45, SD): a documentary that offers both behind-the-scenes views of the film’s production and also comments from co-star Bo Hopkins, Peckinpah’s assistant Katy Haber, and Peckinpah’s sister Fern Le Peter. His film career is also discussed by others who worked with him: Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, and James Coburn.Promoting The Killer Elite (4:15, SD): a montage of poster art and lobby cards from the United States and around the world.TV/Radio Spot Ads (5:10, SD): a montage of these itemsTheatrical Trailer (2:12, SD)MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)Noon Wine (51:18, SD): the 1966 made-for-television adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter’s novelette as presented on ABC Stage ’67 and written and directed by Sam Peckinpah. Starring Jason Robards, Olivia de Havilland, and Theodore Bikel, the tragedy of a man who loses everything just when he appears to have it all is a rare find and a great bonus feature on this release. It has a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono soundtrack. Also offered as an option is a commentary on this production by Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, and Garner Simmons.Six-Page Booklet: contains color stills from The Killer Elite, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s celebratory essay on Noon Wine and observations on The Killer Elite as a somewhat unfulfilled promise to the greatness contained in the TV production.


    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    Though The Killer Elite is basically a mediocre conspiracy thriller with lots of admirable elements that don’t come completely to a boil, the release also contains a true rarity: Noon Wine which fans of the director and/or its stars will certainly not want to miss. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.


    Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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  2. bronson

    bronson Stunt Coordinator

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    It would be interesting to know whether they used the same master as the French Blu-ray.
     
  3. atfree

    atfree Producer

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    Thanks, as always, for the review. TKE has always been a Peckinpah film I want to love but just can't. As you wrote, it is wildly uneven and just feels cobbled together at time, even throwing-in some mid-70's martial arts to be cool. It does make some good use of San Francisco locations though.

    I received my copy Saturday and haven't had a chance to watch it yet. For no other reason, as a Peckinpah completist its require viewing.
     
  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    And Noon Wine is a lovely, irreplaceable surprise.
     
  5. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Wonderful transfer of a weird film. But I have to say I've now scanned through the second half of the film four times and have yet to see any of this occasional right side damage. Can you point us to a couple of examples with exact times because I'm just not seeing anything at all.
     
  6. Richard Gallagher

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