Redcon-1 Blu-ray Review

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The only way this could have worked is if it was a comedy sequel to Shaun of the Dead.

by Casimir Harlow Feb 25, 2019 at 9:36 AM

  • Movies & TV review


    Redcon-1 Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £14.99

    Redcon-1 Film Review

    The micro-budget Brit zombie flick Redcon-1 has some game enthusiasm, but really needed more money - or more comedy - to cover up its amateur-hour action.

    Perhaps if this was released 20 years ago, zombie genre fans may have been more forgiving, but even a TV movie from back then would have likely looked better. It really isn't that much different from World War Z, that is if World War Z was set in Scotland, shot for next to nothing, and directed by a film student.

    There are moments that work and ideas that seem reasonably good - the human gangs that protect their own territories, and perhaps the vague notion of training and using the infected as weapons - but director Chee Keong Cheung, who has reportedly been working on this project for some 5 years, simply doesn't have the tools at his disposal to tell a coherent, stylish and effective story, instead resorting to a ridiculously long opening narration, far too much montage footage, and so much slo-mo that even John Woo would be rolling his eyes by halfway through.

    It really isn't that much different from World War Z, that is if World War Z was set in Scotland, shot for next to nothing, and directed by a film student

    As noted, there are moments that work, where the budget isn't as obvious but the hundreds of reputedly unpaid extras in bad makeup spoil much of the action and often make it feel like somebody is trying to get us to take Shaun of the Dead seriously. Where Redcon-1 just about works is in the slightly smaller moments - like the confrontation with the gang at the start of the final act - which have a Brit Mad Max feel, but it's still a very niche production, requiring even straight-to-DVD bargain basement action aficionados to suffer some endurance-challenging sequences in a film that's half an hour too long for its own good (lose the first half hour, and put more effort into the rest).

    The cast are peppered with wrestlers (Katarina Waters), martial artists (Mark Strange), and even El Mariachi himself Carlos Gallardo, whilst little-known Brit actor Oris Erhuero is ostensibly left to do the heavy lifting as the lead, but even some committed fight scenes - and access to a surprising number of military vehicles - can't really cover up the visibly non-existent budget.

    In an age where Soderbergh is shooting films on an iPhone (check out Netflix's High Flying Bird to see just what can be achieved), and where even low budget zombie flicks can deliver something different (again, looking at Netflix's Cargo here - which oddly has some very similar ideas to Redcon-1) it's tough to understand how this got made; it's possibly the most amateur feature that's ever been distributed on this scale in the last few years, and it's a shame because some stricter editing, less over the top effects (cue blood spraying across the screen), a sense of style and maybe less of an attempt at scale-on-a-budget may have made this a fun little indie zombie actioner - the kind of thing Romero would be proud of. But if they knew that they didn't have any of those elements, the better bet would have been to just go full Shaun of the Dead comedy. This is the worst of both worlds.

    Redcon-1 Blu-ray Picture

    Redcon-1 Redcon-1 Blu-ray Picture
    101 Films bring Redcon-1 to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray with a reasonable 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, although it's sometimes hard to see where the limitations in the material end and the problems with the presentation begin, so you have to be somewhat forgiving to what is often raw, cheap-looking, and desperately amateurish film - it'll make you yearn for the days where everything is shot through with teal to at least give it a style, rather than shot like you filmed it on an old camcorder in a car park down the road.

    About par for the course for this kind of production

    There's an excess of montage at the outset, some ludicrous (no, not in a good way) practical effects and slo-mo that the presentation can't really handle very well, favouring blurring instead. Softness is hardly an issue, with some shots - and even entire scenes - having a decent enough level of detail. As stated, there are image defects - banding and crush aren't hard to spot - but you have to wonder where the source material's limitations end. The colour scheme is overly 'natural' (you don't really want your film to look like 90s news footage ), and not particularly healthy-looking, but a few tones come over well, and black levels are mostly reasonable too. It's about par for the course for this kind of production.

    Redcon-1 Blu-ray Sound

    Redcon-1 Redcon-1 Blu-ray Sound
    Also reasonably serviceable but distinctly unexceptional

    The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also reasonably serviceable but distinctly unexceptional, mostly coping with normal dialogue levels and avoiding too much loss of clarity or coherence, but struggling to find any decent effects and - much like the video - really making it an issue to delineate between source material problems and technical presentation issues. Gunshots are frequently riddled with that hollow echoing sound that makes them feel even cheaper (although, to be fair, there are far more bullets sprayed than you might expect for this kind of production), explosions are reasonable enough but lack any LFE involvement, and the zombie horde doesn't really have that animal-like intensity. The score is the nail in the coffin, generic as all hell and much more ostensibly rousing than the film itself can handle, leaving it frequently clashing and possibly even threatening to send you into bouts of unintended laughter.

    Redcon-1 Blu-ray Extras

    Redcon-1 Redcon-1 Blu-ray Extras
    Where this release really does impress is on the extras front

    Now where this release really does impress is on the extras front, delivering a slew of Behind the Scenes Featurettes looking at key elements from the production - albeit with a focus on effects and action - some audition footage, a plethora of Cast and Crew Interviews, a few Deleted Scenes and a Gallery.

    Redcon-1 Blu-ray Verdict

    Redcon-1 Redcon-1 Blu-ray Verdict
    101 Films somewhat surprisingly bring Redcon-1 to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray - surprisingly because there are so many titles that don't even get Blu-ray releases (Jennifer Garner's Taken-style actioner, Peppermint; the ensemble comedy Tag; the superb little gem, Upgrade), but likely unsurprisingly for the same reason we got a UK 4K release of Johnny English Strikes Again, but the US did not, namely: this is a Brit film. It's great to support a Brit project, but at least make it a halfway decent one.

    It's great to support a Brit project, but at least make it a halfway decent one

    The video and audio of the Blu-ray release are about par for the course given the micro-budget, with the extras remaining the most impressive element, rounding out a solid enough disc for fans to pick up (who will undoubtedly be pleased it's even getting a Blu-ray release), but hardly a title to be recommended.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99

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