Belly of the Beast Blu-ray Review
Belly of the Beast comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video rendition, presented in the movie’s original limited-release theatrical format of 1.85:1 widescreen. Certainly it’s a step up over the previous SD-DVD release, now looking considerably better in HD. Detail is generally very good throughout, with decent clarity and no obvious DNR; although the pay-off does appear to be a (mostly) acceptable amount of edge enhancement applied to some scenes, and a few sections where softness is evident (look at the background when his daughter first calls home).There’s a suitably filmic layer of grain pervading the piece, which gives it a nice edge and makes the material look more impressive than it actually is. The colour scheme is reasonably broad, often given that Asian bias which denotes low budget productions filmed in places like Thailand – like a dull sky, often with glaring white clouds but little noticeable sun, provides the light source for the majority of the scenes. This is not indicative of the lovely locale – which does sport some blissful island moments – but more of the actual shoots, which are not given supported lighting, or filmed in the best places. Of course, Seagal himself is often cast in shadows, in a Marlon Brando-esque attempt to hide his weight, and thankfully the black levels are reasonably strong and allow for solid shadowing. Overall it’s a step up from DVD, and certainly enough to persuade fans to make the upgrade.
Now this bit is really irritating. All we get here is an Uncompressed LPCM 2.0 Stereo track to accompany the movie. I know it’s not exactly big budget material, now will it ever reach wide audiences, but, since the Studio has clearly opted to release it on a High Definition format – and far enough along for DTS-HD MA 5.1 to become the benchmark – it really is pretty lame that they didn’t bother with anything better than this. With all that in mind, the track presents the limited material in exactly the way you would assume from such a limited track, and it does just about suffice for this film – Seagal’s mumbling coming across slightly more clearly (in comparison with the DVD track) across the fronts and centre channels, screams and shouts penetrating nicely; gunshot effects echoing out reasonably authentically, and the frantic, frenetic soundtrack trying its best to exaggerate the various setpieces to a grander level. Most of the confrontations are suitably energetic as a result, although you’d be hard pushed to find encompassing atmosphere with this particular mix. Still, I guess it’ll do.
Absolutely nothing. Not even a trailer for the main movie, or previews for some similar titles from the DTV dungeon of Seagal, Snipes and Lundgren. Nothing.
Belly of the Beast is great. It’s the action equivalent to Showgirls.
Aptly titled considering the size of the lead protagonist, it is an absolutely ridiculous movie. Steven Seagal may well be taking his art seriously, but thankfully nobody else is, and you really can’t help but laugh, almost non-stop. After all – considering that this is the same guy who you might remember kicking ass in films like Under Siege and, um, Under Siege 2 – you’ll be pretty blown away by what they have in store for him here: using practically supernatural kung-fu moves to make enemies literally fly through the air; having to fight a high-heel-wearing transvestite who is dangling from the ceiling slashing at him with razor-sharp claws; taking on evil sorcerers by using protective magical medallions; and deflecting arrows with both bullets and swords slashes. It really doesn’t get much better than this. This is the absolute epitome of the old adage that a movie can be “so bad that it’s good”, and the end result is a film which is actually a whole lot more fun to watch than a hell of a lot of average films out there.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray we get decent enough video, certainly an improvement over the previous DVD release, and acceptable but distinctly unimpressive audio – and absolutely no extras either: not even a damn trailer. Still, though fans will already have it but, if they love the Big Man enough, they will still want to upgrade, just for the better picture quality, which is, arguably, worth it. After all, if you own all of Seagal’s movies anyway, why wouldn’t you want the best possible versions of them. If you’re new to this kind of so-bad-it’s-good offering from the Big Man, then crack a beer, get some like-minded buddies round, and sit back for this unreservedly silly, unintentionally hilarious, surprisingly entertaining actioner. A good way to figure out whether or not you might enjoy this is to look at the front cover and see if it makes you laugh to see a patently airbrushed-to-hell Seagal looking off to one side, apparently holding a gun. Of course, it's damn obvious that's not even his arm, let alone his hand, on the gun - the whole thing added using really bad photoshop tools and doesn't even survive a cursory glance. If this ridiculous cover art makes you smile, even a tiny bit, then the movie may well stand a chance of lighting up your evening. Just try not to take it seriously, otherwise you’ll have no fun at all!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £11.14
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