True Justice: Street Wars Blu-ray Review
Street Wars comes to UK Region B Blu-ray complete with a decent enough 1080p High Definition video presentation in the TV series’ original aspect ratio of widescreen 1.78:1. Detail is generally pretty good indeed, like a reasonably good quality TV show or an average low-budget movie. Shot with Vancouver, Canada standing in for Seattle, it best moments generally come for the interior shots – the undercover cop headquarters offering up some pristine interiors which leave no room for softness, edge enhancement or digital defects. Exteriors generally also look pretty good, with a marginally over-saturated image (intentionally so) making the setting more ‘hot’. Even the nightclub sequences – which actually, for once, look a little bit like a real club – stand up fairly well, the low-level lighting never having an effect on the noise level (which is practically non-existent on what looks like a digital production). Blacks are strong and deep and overall this is a very nice looking presentation. Again, it’s not quality by the standards of modern Hollywood releases, but it’s good enough to complete with most halfway decent TV procedurals, and of a much better standard than many of Seagal’s recent output.
On the aural front we get a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that offers a more diverse spread, as well as a 2.0 mix which is much more limited, but which is also not bad by any means. It should be noted that the feature defaults to 2.0, so you have to select 5.1 if that's the track you want. Dialogue gets reasonably clear presentation across the frontal array – I’m sure it’s the first time in a decade that Seagal fans have been actually able to hear everything that the massive mumbler says. Effects range from tyres screeching to body blows and, of course, plenty of gunshots – but the trouble isn't a lack of substance to stand out across the surrounds, actually the surrounds are arguably too active. That sounds like a ridiculous complaint, but, where the 2.0 effort is (obviously) front-biased, the 5.1 alternative over-compensates, channelling far too much through the surrounds - and actually the rears. It's one of the most rear-dominated offerings that I have come across recently. Still, if you like your TV shows to be atmospheric to the extreme, I guess it's not that bad - it's just a shame that it appears that the prioritisation is out of whack. The score is generic as hell, and they changed the title sequence music for the worse (the last instalment featured one of Seagal’s own tracks – and it wasn’t half bad). LFE also offers a nice edge, particularly noticeable during the night club sequence, where the dance tracks help, but otherwise it’s given a fair amount of background work to do. Overall it's a pretty decent 5.1 track marred by some balance and prioritisation issues.
Nothing but a misleading trailer for this misleading production.
Street Wars gives Seagal fans episodes 3 and 4 out of his latest, remarkably watchable, TV show, True Justice. No, it’s not that reality cop drama where Seagal arrests people, it’s a fictional police procedural which mixes the entertaining silliness of CSI: Miami with the ‘Southern’ feel of Justified, and throws in a hint of the ass-kicking from Martial Law just for added value. As a TV series, its biggest asset is Seagal – certainly an interesting choice to head up one of these cop shows – and it really is surprisingly enjoyable. For TV viewing. The trouble is, they haven’t released it as a series (it hasn’t even aired yet on TV) – instead they’ve botched it up as some kind of DTV movie release. And it just doesn’t make any sense. Literally, you won’t have a clue what’s going on – why characters that you don’t know are being referenced; why nobody is getting any kind of introduction or background; and why new characters are being introduced at the tail-end of the runtime. It all makes perfect sense when viewed as episodes 3 and 4 of a series, but doesn’t work at all as a standalone effort. Hell, the continuity doesn’t even work – why does the production change narrative midway through and then proceed with a flash-forward? Have you ever seen a flash-forward halfway through a movie before??
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get decent enough video, acceptable audio, and an expected lack of extras (although at least a trailer or ‘recap’ of the first two episodes – aka ‘Deadly Crossing – should have been incorporated). Fans who are prepared to pick up the first release, and watch both packages as four individual episodes, may actually find that isn’t all that bad an action-biased TV procedural. It’s cheesy and clichéd and there’s no depth to it whatsoever, but for silly, fun, over-the-top and often unintentionally hilarious viewing (think Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami) then this isn’t a bad addition to their Seagal collection, and is of a notably better standard than many of his recent productions. Unfortunately those completely new to this release, who view it as just another throwaway standalone DTV actioner are probably better off throwing it away before they watch it. The incomprehensibility is infuriating, and the lack of decent (movie-standard) action will leave you feeling thoroughly unsatisfied and I’d recommend that casual viewers should steer clear until the studios decide to release it the way it was meant to be released – as a TV show called True Justice.
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