Headshot Blu-ray Review
The Raid meets The Bourne Identity
Headshot is the new actioner from The Raid's kick-ass star but can it show he has legs outside of his defining franchise?Although writer/director Gareth Evans is nowhere to be seen, his stamp is all over this stylish and brutal action debut from The Mo Brothers, who wrote the script in record time, and delivered another low budget Indonesia gem that easily earns favourable comparison with star Iko Uwais's Raid hits, even if it isn't quite as polished or perfected as either. The story has Uwais play an amnesiac with a bullet lodged in his brain, who washes up on shore and ends up in hospital being given surprisingly personal treatment by his doctor, Ailin, who gives him the name Ishmael. But when criminals kidnap her to get to him, Ishmael has to tap into skills he didn't know that he had in order to fight to get her back.There's definitely a Bourne vibe to Headshot, and that's far from a bad thing, with Uwais's amnesiac hero lost at sea when it comes to his memories, but plagued by his deadly skills and the nagging feeling that they suggest that he may not be such a good guy after all. It's not a meaty role, but it gives Uwais something new to play with. The Mo Brothers have clearly studied The Raid and with Uwais doing the fight choreography, many of the supporting players from that series - both in front and behind the camera - returning for work here, and a propensity to play with some elaborate, innovative action setpieces brimming with blood and brutality, the results are impressive.
Picture QualityHeadshot hits UK shores on a Region B-locked Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow, who deliver a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. The results are generally very good, at times perhaps even demo-worthy, although some softer shots do come to the fore, somewhat letting the side down.
The picture is just shy of demo quality
There's some truly stylish, perfectly-framed, slo-mo-tastic setpieces here, reveling in the falling rain, billowing smoke or hailing bullets, and lapping up all of the little nuances on offer. It's a movie that frequently impresses visually, but there are a surprising number of just-slightly-out-of-focus shots which really have no place here, peppered throughout an otherwise very nice looking video presentation.
The colour scheme bears that distinctive Indonesian yellow-orange dominance, which does betray the budget unnecessarily, but there are still some nice tones, and the image holds up quite well even when it gets darker. There are a few sequences where it looks like every single frame was shown love and attention - mostly during the slo-mo flashbacks - but the aforementioned softer touches still leave this just shy of demo quality.
Sound QualityThe accompanying Indonesian (and English) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a boisterous, action-packed affair, which throws bullets and explosions into your living room, as well as providing a strong accompanying score to get the juices flowing. Dialogue takes a distinct back seat here.
Dialogue takes a back seat with a track that goes into overdrive during the action
Running at 2 hours in length, it's not wall-to-wall action, with a couple of noisy, violent sequences early on, but an otherwise quiet run until things properly kick off. However, once that happens, the film - and soundtrack - go into overdrive, and the results are tremendous. Surround usage is strong, whilst LFE input is thunderous, making some of the skirmishes quite devastating to your living room, although precision isn't quite as good as you'd have hoped for, again leaving this a very good and frequently demo worthy offering which is still a fair bit short of reference.
ExtrasThere's nothing here beyond some very old startup trailers for some back catalogue titles like Battle Royale (Uwais's other actioners would have made more sense).
Blu-ray VerdictHeadshot earns favourable comparison with star Iko Uwais's Raid films, even if it isn't quite as polished or perfected
Strong video and audio leave this UK release a good way to check out this title, particularly if you missed it in the ten seconds that it flew through the cinemas. Fans of The Raid, and of Uwais – and of high quality, relentlessly violent, impressively-choreographed, martial arts driven action thrillers – should definitely hunt this puppy down. Recommended.
You can buy Headshot on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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