Shot digitally on Sony Cine Alta, it all looks fine. There are no issues with the picture on the whole, with the 1.85:1 24 FPS AVC-MPEG4 widescreen image looking completely clean, even if the colour balance is a little on the blue side. This sort of mirrors some martial arts films, so I see while they have gone down this route, and as the movie resolves itself towards the end, the picture becomes rosier and nicer looking. Even the grimy, seedy cage fight scenes look well lit and correctly exposed, so there is no doubt the movie has been made with care. Shot mainly on location, including all the school scenes that were shot in a recently closed high school, it does have a certain gritty reality to it all the same. The picture does not jump off the screen at you, due to the fairly muted palette and ultimately, lack of contrast.
The depth of field and to a certain extent, the colour gamut gives the film something of a video look. It is not as bad as some, but cinema this is not.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is something of a disappointment. It is competent enough, with clear dialogue, but the surround is under-utilised for what could have been a wraparound experience, particularly during the cage fight scenes. The action does not seem to explode across the screen and the dynamic range feels a little lacking for this genre. The spine cracks and thuds as various bodies get heaved around the ring is all there, but it feels very front speaker centric and robbed of some of its energy. The LFE does not get much of a work out, although some of the bigger thumbs come through quite well.
The soundtrack is quite forgettable, with nu metal P.O.Ds “Here comes the Boom” the only track that stands out, although The Fonze’s version is better!
It has to be said, I don’t think many will bother to plough through all the extras contained on this disc. By the time you have sat through the gag reel, deleted scenes and cast featurette, you might be feeling too jaded to do the rest. Take heart though, as MMA lovers will find plenty to go at. With the exception of Henry Winkler enthusing about his classroom and the talented music students who played live in a couple of the scenes in the film (and got to keep their new instruments to boot), the rest of the extras come under the heading of “Cage fighters larking around”. They have some fun and you will learn some moves, but personally I would like to have seen more of Salma Hayek practicing… Maybe it’s my age…
The disc loads quickly and there are no annoying trailers to skip through, so +1 to that. Director Frank Coraci comes across as a loud mouthed oaf, not really taking the movie very seriously in more than one of the shorts, and Winkler only seeks to reinforce his bumbling persona. The comedy timing of brothers James and Valentine does come across and at least they enjoyed themselves.
An over the hill biology teacher and cage fighting seem an odd combination and it really does not work, at least for English audiences. For the price of this movie, you can still find local family friendly wrestling bouts of a Saturday night, or save your pennies for the full MMA experience. This movie just fails to hit the mark I’m afraid.
Technically it is fine. Nothing amazing, but no obvious video issues and the sound is just lack lustre, not particularly bad. Cranking it up loud does nothing to improve matters, but at least it won’t trouble even the most basic of home cinema systems.
A thumbs down from me then.
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