PictureFour Lions comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.78:1. Considering it was shot on a pretty small budget, it looks quite good really. Detail is generally of a very high standard, high def cameras look like they’ve done most of the work here. Softness, edge enhancement and limited grain, it’s all fairly negligible, and actually suits the material for the most part.
The colour scheme is remarkably bright and vivid given the restrictive British weather, with the costumes acting as the most vibrant element, although all of the locations look authentic and well-observed here. Black levels are not exactly supposed to be outstanding – the night-vision shot of the police is obviously intended to look that poor – but they do the job, mostly. Overall it looks damn good considering its budget, and works well for the material, even if you could never consider this production a visual masterpiece – then again, that was certainly not its intention!
SoundWe get two aural flavours adorning the disc: a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, and a limited LPCM 2-channel mix. Obviously the DTS offering is the one to go for, although the material doesn’t boast many qualities that distinguish between just stereo and six-speaker-surround-sound. Dialogue – the most important facet – comes across clearly and coherently (even given the thick accents, it’s handled very well), largely dominating the frontal array for the majority of the proceedings. There are some effects – notably of the explosive variety – although the surrounds never really come to life: not in the crowds, not with the police closing in, and not on the motorway. It’s more perfunctorily doing the job here, rather than acutely observing the atmospheric minutiae. The score works well to suit the material, but, again, does not particularly open things up, and bass is fairly limited too (again, surprising given the explosive action on offer). I can’t really complain about the track because I didn’t expect much more and – to be honest – this kind of production doesn’t really need much more, but this is far from a perfect example of what DTS-HD MA can offer.
ExtrasFirst up we get 7 Deleted and Alternate Scenes, totalling about 20 minutes of extra footage. We get an alternate – longer – opening sequence, which is possibly even more hilarious (Where’d you get the gun? A cereal packet?!); an extra scene in Pakistan about how one of the terrorists knows what Paradise is like; a slightly unnecessary scene about how far you would go ‘if your Emir commanded it’, which explains the ‘bean’ statement more fully; a sequence where the crew, carrying explosive bags, is attacked by a gang of youths; and we also get an unusual scene with Fessel recording his video threat: sending bomb-carrying trained birds to attack buildings. Although the first couple of scenes arguably should have been reinstated, it’s understandable why most of this hit the cutting room floor in the interest of not making the flick outstay its welcome, but it is great to have them here and there are some classic Chris Morris moments.
It’s also worth noting that the scenes all play separately and that the Deleted Scenes sub-menu itself has Deleted Footage playing in the background which varies when you return from playing the scenes: it includes a short scene with Barry hilariously psyching himself up for the trip and an extra scene for the video-camera at the beginning.
Lost Boys is an interesting 8 minute collection of Research Interviews which has some Muslim youths discussing – honestly – their feelings towards young white men and women (gora/goree). They talk about the racist experiences they have had, the fights that they have gotten into, and some of the worst behaviour that they have noticed from drunken youths in their area. The irony of it all, of course, is that they engage in some pretty unnecessary behaviour themselves too – shouting and swearing at people walking down the street. Although it does not quite get into the meat of the issues, it raises some interesting questions, and offers a very nice look at the flipside to the white coin.
We also get a 13 minute Interview with Mohammed Ali Ahmad who, at the time, was awaiting trial for ‘preparing an act of terrorism’, and who had previously been imprisoned for over a year while the trial was delayed. A 24 year old white kid, he is certainly well versed in the language, the religion and the culture – and a competent artist whose pictures depict his feelings about Muslims in the world we live in. He discusses, candidly, his arrest and detention, noting some of the ludicrous questions asked of him by the Police, and some of the worst experiences he had in prison. It is another reasonably insightful offering. Oh and there are also a bunch of annoying Optimum trailers on disc start-up, but you can thankfully skip those (albeit individually).
VerdictAt once inspired, thoughtful and poignant, as well as laugh-out-loud funny, Four Lions is a top notch debut film from master satirist Chris Morris, who continues to offer up extremely intelligent, and unabashedly raw socio-political commentary on all he sees, this time setting his sights on a bunch of inept radicalised Muslims blundering their way around Sheffield on a misguided journey to Paradise. With some superior performances in well-developed central roles, Morris manages to bring humour and tension as well as pathos and humanity to the production, which will leave you thinking almost as much as you will be quoting, long after the film draws to a close. It’s an exercise in intelligent comic genius, striking at the very heart of a topic which needed this kind of treatment, and it is arguably one of the most important terrorism movies ever made – and that within a decade packed with them.
On Region B-locked Blu-ray, we get pretty good video and distinctly underwhelming audio, but you won’t even notice either whilst watching this kind of thought-provoking offering. And as a nice, serious companion-piece to the hilarious deleted scenes we get some excellent, brutally raw interview footage, which goes to show just how serious the filmmakers were in researching to get their message across. It’s a decent Blu-ray release, which fans should have absolutely no hesitation in picking up. And for newcomers, particularly those new to Chris Morris’s work, you should go out and pick up Brass Eye right now. And you should consider this insightful, contemplative and resolutely hilarious terrorist satire a must-see addition to your collection. Highly recommended.
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