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Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk(1991-2003)
Contains both 'Hollywood Homicide' and 'Hudson Hawk'
For more about Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk and the Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray release, see Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on June 30, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Danny Aiello, Lena Olin, Andie MacDowell
Directors: Ron Shelton, Michael Lehmann
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray Review
Two Box Office Flops That Deserve an Afterlife
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, June 30, 2013
Hollywood Homicide was a notorious bomb when it hit theaters in June 2003. Despite the star power of Harrison Ford, the directorial skill of Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup) and the authenticity of Shelton's co-screenwriter, former cop Robert Souza, who borrowed heavily from his own experiences, critics savaged the film and audiences stayed away. The $75 million production took in just over $51 million at the box office worldwide. There were a few exceptions to the general condemnation, however. One was the late Roger Ebert, who appreciated the snap of the dialogue between Ford and his co-star Josh Hartnett. Another was myself, who has always enjoyed Ford in comic roles, even if the only one that ever succeeded with audiences was in Working Girl. Besides, the title should have tipped off everyone that this wasn't your standard tale of crime; this was a Hollywood tale. If New York crime stories are typically about grit, and L.A. crime stories are usually about corruption, a Hollywood story recalls Oscar Levant's famous quip: "Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you'll find the real tinsel underneath." In Shelton's and Souza's script, the homicide detectives were anything but hard-boiled. Sure, they did their jobs, but their hearts lay elsewhere—in show business, New Age pursuits and that classic preoccupation of the true Hollywood insider, real estate. If Hollywood Homicide has a notable feature that makes it unlikely as a crowd-pleaser, it's that too much seems to be happening at once, and it's easy to imagine audiences in 2003 not knowing where to focus. (The marketing campaign didn't help.) Shelton's strength as a director is his ability to keep multiple balls in the air, but audiences who still expected Harrison Ford to be the dashing action hero probably weren't ready for the quick shifts in tone that his character undergoes, often in the same scene, as he juggles different aspects of his life. Ford handles these transitions with the skill of the consummate pro he long ago became, but he's been hemmed in for much of his career by audience expectations based on Han Solo and Indiana Jones. The detectives in Hollywood Homicide do eventually close their case, but neither of them is that kind of hero. Hudson Hawk belongs to that reviled fraternity of Hollywood star vehicles that bellyflopped, after the industry and the press tagged them as "vanity projects" and the star obliged by involving himself so much in the creative process that self-sabotage became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Bruce Willis and producer Joel Silver were riding high at that point on the success of the first two Die Hard movies. Who did this former TV actor and upstart producer think they were? And Willis had co-written the original story featuring himself as a wise-cracking cat burglar with a smirk, a cappuccino addiction and a habit of singing old pop tunes while he carried out his intricate thefts. Could it get any more self-indulgent? When the movie finally hit theaters in June 1991, everyone piled on and the film was pronounced a dud. But Hudson Hawk has refused to go quietly. It may not have been the blockbuster for which Silver Pictures is known, but it had "cult classic" written all over it. Over the years, viewers have generally divided into the love-it or hate-it variety. (If you haven't guessed by now, I'm in the former camp—and proud of it.) The director, Michael Lehmann, who has never again been given a massive budget, was best known for the darkly comic high school satire Heathers, where he routinely achieved the same kind of outrageous, did-someone-just-say-that? humor that often pops up in Hudson Hawk, but with a far more frugal budget. Not coincidentally, the screenwriter of Heathers, Daniel Waters, was one of the scribes hired to transform the original story by Willis and his composer buddy, Robert Kraft, into a script. (The other writer was Steven E. de Souza, a veteran of the Die Hard films.) In Lehmann's hands, Hudson Hawk became one extended goof with occasional action scenes. It's not for everyone, but it's a unique brand of silliness that falls somewhere between Monty Python and Mel Brooks. What can you say about a film that frequently references Nintendo, then names its crime family the Mario Bros.? Like Andie MacDowell's dolphin impression, which comes out of nowhere, there's nothing quite like it.
For a discussion of Hollywood Homicide, please see the Hollywood Homicide Blu-ray review. For a discussion of Hudson Hawk, please see the Hudson Hawk Blu-ray review.
Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray, Video Quality
Hollywood Homicide 4/5 Barry Peterson, who had just shot Dark Blue for Shelton, returned as the DP on Hollywood Homicide. Consistent with the Southern California sunshine—the lively credit sequence is set to "I Love Cali (In the Summertime)" performed by Roscoe—Peterson gives everything a bright, colorful look with good contrast and a minimum of shadow, even in night scenes. Sony has provided Mill Creek with a clean source and a good quality transfer that is detailed and sharp and does not appear to suffer from untoward digital processing to sharpen edges or remove grain. The black levels look right, the contrast doesn't wash out shadow detail, and the colors are appropriately saturated. Although the average bitrate of 19.00 Mbps seems low, I didn't observe any obvious artifacting, probably because long stretches of the film involve conversations with little excess motion in the frame. That, plus the black space created by the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, probably conserved enough overall bandwidth for demanding sequences like the intense car chase (much of it against traffic), the opening club shootout and the final confrontations between the heros and the main bad guys. For additional screenshots, please see the Hollywood Homicide Blu-ray review. Hudson Hawk 4/5 The distinguished cinematographer Dante Spinotti (Heat and L.A. Confidential, among many others) shot Hudson Hawk, which may be one reason why the scenes filmed in his native Italy have such an appealing glow (though Spinotti can make just about anything look good). In the film's first act, the veteran DP captures the cool fluorescence of the hip New York Eighties scene, and his lighting of the increasingly daft third act is almost cartoonish. The master provided by Sony to Mill Creek comes from well-preserved source material with no noticeable damage, and this is one of the better transfers that Sony has outsourced. The image on Mill Creek's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray has detail, texture and grain, but it's a fine, natural grain pattern consistent with the look of a film from the early Nineties. Except for an occasional shot (usually an effects shot), the grain is rarely heavy, even in scenes set at night, where the blacks, gray and shadings of black and gray are accurately rendered. The colors range from the garish decor of Tommy's bar (which appalls Hudson when he enters) to the dingy shades of the ancient castle where the Mayflowers attempt to recreate da Vinci's machine. If Hudson Hawk were the action film it was ill-advisedly advertised to be, the average bitrate of 21.99 Mbps might seem a little low, but so much of it consists of banter and repartee (both snappy and stupid) that the average seems about right. In any case, compression errors did not intrude. For additional screenshots, please see the Hudson Hawk Blu- ray review.
Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hollywood Homicide 4/5 The film's original 5.1 track is presented in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1. It's an effective mix that rises to the big moments, like the panicking crowd when the members of H2OClick are shot in Julius' club and the zooming, careening traffic when Gavilan and Calden take off in pursuit of a suspect through the streets of Beverly Hills (and beyond). Dialogue is clear, dynamic range is wide, and bass extension is deep, which is especially important for the strongly rap-flavored soundtrack that keeps poor Gavilan so off-balance. The instrumental underscore is credited to Alex Wurman, who scored Play It to the Bone for Shelton and recently did the soundtrack for the first season of The Newsroom on HBO. Hudson Hawk 4/5 According to IMDb, some prints of Hudson Hawk included a soundtrack mixed for the short-lived CDS ("Cinema Digital Sound") multi- channel system, but most filmgoers saw the film in Dolby Surround. That track is used here, encoded as DTS-HD MA 2.0. It's an interesting track, because the sound effects often give the impression of having been mixed for the inhabitants of Roger Rabbit's Toon Town, but it fits with the spirit of the film. The dialogue is generally clear, although there are moments when you can't believe what you just heard. (Example, from two bored security guards as Hudson and Tommy sneak by them: "673 Wongs in the phone book." "Hmmm. Helluva lotta Wong numbers.") The surrounds are used for general ambiance, a few big effects like the gold "machine" and to expand the soundstage for the musical score, which is credited to both co-writer Robert Kraft and Die Hard composer Michael Kamen. The latter's signature is unmistakable.
Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The disc contains no extras for either film.
Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hudson Hawk falls under the category of "guilty pleasure" for many of its fans, and Hollywood Homicide is either an acquired taste or something that one has to be a fan of Ron Shelton's filmmaking style to enjoy. In either case, this double feature from Mill Creek is worth acquiring for a fan of either film (or both).
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