Hard to Kill Blu-ray Review
Twenty-two years on and Hard to Kill looks about as good as you’d expect any of Seagal’s back catalogue 90s actioners to look (or any other equivalent actioners from the period); it doesn’t exactly stun on Blu-ray, but it makes for a competent upgrade from the original bog-standard DVD release. Hitting US shores it is internationally compatible in this Region Free package, which presents the movie with a 1080p/AVC High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original aspect ratio of 1.77:1 widescreen. Detail is generally acceptable, with strong facial textures and some occasionally good fine object detail, and tolerable softness (intentional when it comes to the flashbacks) thrown into the mix. DNR is never excessive, and an expected level of grain remains present as a result. The colour scheme varies from set-piece to set-piece, all within the boundaries of a 1990 production, with bright blue skies and lush green landscapes upon which the sets and outfits can play, Seagal’s own denim jean / black leather jacket combo looking rich and authentic, and the skin tones remaining realistic for the most part (who knows what Le Brock should look like beyond the lacquered makeup). Black levels are reasonably strong but the darker sequences – particularly at the beginning of the movie – are far from spectacular. Overall it’s a solid though, as stated, far from impressive video presentation that most viewers will find acceptable and that Seagal fans will probably positively salivate over.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is marginally more impressive, although again far from stellar Blu-ray demo material. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array where appropriate, with – amazingly – even Seagal’s quietest mumbles being wholly intelligible. Effects are not exactly myriad, but do take on some interesting forms, with Seagal’s bone-crunching delivery making for some painfully effective moments, and a few automatic weapons rattling around in the background. The odd deafening shotgun blast and the remarkable power behind Seagal’s preferred 1911 .45 perforate the track with some nice LFE-augmented touches, and offer up a little directionality, but this certainly isn’t the most expansive, immersive track at all. The score is perhaps the highlight – yes it’s dated, but not as bad as you think, and it happily carries the proceedings even when little to nothing is happening; a quirky, thematic offering which, as stated in the main review, is possibly better than the film even deserves. Solid, but unexceptional accompaniment, fans will be more than pleased with what’s on offer here; anybody else would have likely come unstuck long before it comes to dissecting the quality of the audio track.
Just a poor quality SD minute-and-a-half Trailer for the film. I’m not sure I really expected any more, but even the old DVDs had Trailers for other Seagal releases, this is just the absolute minimum on offer here.
The great thing about Steven Seagal’s Hard to Kill is that, when it’s not entertaining you with broken bones, superior martial arts moves and reasonably well-staged action set-pieces, it’s making you laugh with some pretty over the top acting, supremely cheesy dialogue and the presence of one of the single worst actresses of all time, Seagal’s then-wife (no surprises how she got the gig then), Kelly LeBrock. There’s no denying that this is a far from perfect piece of made-in-the-90s-but-living-in-the-80s action-trash, but, for those with the right mindset, it dances cheerily on both sides of the so bad its good line, providing a heady mix of competent ass-kicking and laughable frivolity.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get a decent video and audio upgrade and the same distinct lack of extras that the DVD also didn’t have. Seagal fans should still count it amidst his classics, but you definitely need to be able to laugh at it, as much as revel in the bone-crunching mayhem.
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