PictureThe transfer quality is high, although does suffer from some compression artefacts particularly in the slower scenes. Battle scenes are done using frantic freehand camera work a la Saving Private Ryan, detail is much higher here, colours are more accurate and blacks stronger. Otherwise the picture is somewhat grainy, although this does support the mood of the movie. Some scenes are hazy, and gritty pretty much representing the doom and gloom faced. CGI fire effects are noticeably no better than they were in classic 80s cop shows, but they are (thankfully) very rarely used with pretty much all of the beach landing scene relying on the real thing instead!
SoundThe musical score itself is a haunting orchestral arrangement that when used adds delicious weight to the battle. Recordings are clean but not especially audiophile fodder. The larger proportion of the soundtrack gives way to flying bullets, explosions and the like. Sound effect placement and making full use of all channels is on par with any movie you care to mention, especially through the highly involving DTS soundtrack. There are regular 360-degree pans encircling the viewer, with objects coming off the screen being heard at exactly the right points in the surround soundstage. Moving objects from bullets and missiles, to helicopters and trucks, and simple sounds such as rustling trees and a chalkboard scratching are placed with pinpoint accuracy behind, across and in front of you. I could swear I had speakers hidden all over the room I didn't even know about!
LFE is nigh on perfect, exactly supporting explosions and stopping dead when the effect is spent, no pointless after rumble of over zealous bass punch... but shockingly loud just when it needs to be. The soundtrack makes excellent use of all channels and is almost a reason in it's own to have this DVD, just to slap it in the player and sit through a 15 minute battle!!
ExtrasThere are 6 trailers for other movies under the Asia Extreme franchise, each looking as equally shocking as the next (including the trailer for the Original Battle Royale Movie). Each trailer is English subtitled. In the special features area of the disc itself are the BRII trailer (subtitled), an impressive (and also impressively long!) filmography of Fukasaku's work, plus a biography of the great director. Finally a statement written by Kinji Fukasaku from his death bed, giving his honest opinion on his motives behind the sequel. An interesting read once you've seen the film...
VerdictThe soundtrack is fantastic and really exercises the sound system with plenty of shock explosions to make you jump out of the seat, the direction blends equally well with the soundtrack making for some very interesting scenes. However the movie does get slow at times, perhaps longwinded where the initial adrenalin rush sets high expectations that are not met again until the end of the movie. Then there's the plot itself, on it's own quite a boring, seemingly confused story but taken with a pinch of salt is a man's mission to shock the viewer into appreciating current affairs of war, terrorism, social collapse and how ultimately it's the children who always suffer. Watch it and draw your own conclusions on that one, the movie gets a 6 from me but some would score it higher based on the message it sends.
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