Nowhere to Run comes to Region A-locked US Blu-ray with a solid 1080p High Definition video rendition, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. It’s a significant upgrade from the previous SD-DVD – there’s no denying that – and, whilst it may be far from perfect, and far from comparable to the latest releases on the format; it still looks pretty good indeed. A decent level of detail is maintained throughout, with some inherent softness as a result of the warmer style of filmmaking that the director was going for, but nothing directly obtrusive. There’s no sign of any overt edge enhancement, DNR or rampant digital tinkering; and grain is prevalent, sometimes even heavy, but is still mostly just there to add that necessary filmic edge. The colour scheme looks marginally dated, but perhaps that’s more because of the age, setting and style of the film, than because of any issues with the transfer; and black levels remain strong, allowing for decent night-based sequences. Overall it’s far from demo quality, but also far from bad, a significant step up which blows the old SD-DVD out of the water.
On the aural front, things appear to go downhill – at least technically. You see the trouble is, whilst the track is reasonably good, it is still inherently restricted by being only an LPCM 2.0 affair, with none of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 oomph, directionality, or overall atmosphere that fans would have ideally liked. That said, as noted, it is still a good offering. The front-limited offering is surprisingly potent, dialogue coming across clearly and coherently throughout, the score getting easily the best presentation of all of the elements on the track, and even a few noteworthy effects moments standing out – not least the crashes of the opening scene, but also even the blistering inferno of the barn-fire moment. There are even a few explosions (normally the land developers dynamiting some site), and whilst you can’t help but wonder whether a full six-speaker track would have sounded even better, this offering is far from bad.
I could have sworn that even the SD-DVD release had a couple of trailers on it, whereas here there is absolutely nothing. I wasn’t exactly expecting Maximum Movie Mode, but a few trailers for similar Van Damme movies, and a 1993 EPK featurette wouldn’t have been too much to ask for, surely?
In his first attempt to break free of the brainless action-hero labelling which arguably made him famous in the first place, Jean Claude Van Damme made Nowhere to Run, a loose update of the classic Western, Shane, which suffers under the hand of the writer of Showgirls, but benefits from solid direction from the guy behind The Hitcher and decent performances from the cast – a snarling Joss Acklund, a feisty but cute Rosanna Arquette, and even a reasonably well-rounded Van Damme, largely eschewing lengthy dialogue in favour of some occasionally effective moments of visible reflection, unfortunately juxtaposed with your classic Arnie-style one-liners which, whilst entertaining, always remind you of the level that Van Damme has been used to playing at –one which his fans have obviously become accustomed to. Still, far from a bad outing, this attempt at fusing drama and romance with the sort of thrills and action you might expect from the Muscles from Brussels, may not be wholly successful, but is certainly never less than entertaining; and Van Damme certainly deserves credit for at least trying a different direction.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray we get decent video which certainly stands out as an upgrade, and surprisingly effective audio, even if it’s just LPCM 2.0. Zero extras will always be a disappointment, even if it’s not wholly unexpected, and overall this warrants a purchase for Van Damme fans and a considered rental, particularly for those who’ve seen his more dramatic recent efforts (from JCVD to even Universal Soldier: Regeneration) and would like to see more from him than just split-kicks and roundhouses. Because, believe it or not, he is actually capable of quite a lot more.
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