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One Night with the King(2006)
Born into poverty, Hadassah grows up to become a beauty who catches the eye of the powerful King Xerxes - and ultimately becomes his bride. But despite her position, Hadassah's life is in danger, as the state has decreed that all Jews will be put to death. Defying warnings to remain silent, however, Hadassah struggles to save her people, evens as she seeks to win the heart of the king, even as she attempts o hide her heritage, in this exciting and inspiring story about destiny.
For more about One Night with the King and the One Night with the King Blu-ray release, see One Night with the King Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 27, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, John Noble, Peter O'Toole
Director: Michael O. Sajbel
» See full cast & crew
One Night with the King Blu-ray Review
Queen Esther and her hunk, a hunk of burning love.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 27, 2013
With the new History Channel miniseries The Bible tearing up the Sunday night TV ratings charts, now seems like an appropriate time to talk about another religious epic, released in theaters in 2006 and making its Blu-ray debut this month: One Night with the King, the story of Queen Esther's foiling of a plot to slay all of ancient Persia's Jews. Bankrolled by the evangelical Trinity Broadcasting Network and produced by TBN heir Matthew Crouch, founder of the impossible-to-pronounce Gener8Xion Entertainment—the Christian media company best known for 1999's antichrist- sploitation movie The Omega Code—the film is a not-so-successful attempt to recapture the grandeur and narrative power of Hollywoood's biblical adaptations from the 1950s and '60s. The Ten Commandments. The Greatest Story Ever Told. Ben Hur. The Robe. These are synonymous with "spectacle" and "lavish" and "crowds of thousands," and One Night with the King at least gets that side of the equation right, shot colorfully in India with ornate costumes and scores of local extras. Where it falls short, though, is its muddled storytelling and uneven acting, both made more tedious by the script's insistence on having the characters speak in almost comically awkward King James-style language.
One Night with the King's big pitch at the time of its theatrical release was its casting coup of featuring Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, appearing together in a film for the first time since Lawrence of Arabia. Well, not together, exactly, since they don't share any scenes. Also, appearing is a good word for both O'Toole's blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo as the prophet Samuel and Sharif's slightly larger but rather inconsequential part as the loyal royal advisor, Memucan. Their names are emblazoned on the cover art, but you get the feeling they're only here to give the movie some mainstream legitimacy.
The real star is occasional TV actress Tiffany Dupont as the beautiful Hadassah, a Jewish orphan raised in Susa—the Persian capital—by her older cousin Mordecai (The Lord of the Rings' John Rhys-Davies), a court scribe. They generally downplay their Jewish identity in fear of persecution, and Hadassah dreams of traveling by caravan to Jerusalem, where she can start a new life and be herself, possibly with her friend-zoned best pal Jesse (Jonah Lotan). She has a higher destiny, however, which is set into motion when King Xerxes (Luke Goss) is pressured into having his queen (Jotyi Dogra) banished after she holds a feast to protest his upcoming war with the Greeks. To find a replacement bride, Xerxes has his chief eunuch, Hegai (Tommy Lister Jr.), round up a harem's worth of local women, put them through a beautification regimen, and slowly weed through them until only the most worthy is left.
As portrayed in the film, this winnowing is basically a 5th century BC version of The Bachelor, with Hegai as the Chris Harrison-style host, the kidnapped women as nervous contestants—oh look, one puked in front of the king! another can't ride a horse!—and Xerxes as the hopeful future husband, handing out jewelry in lieu of roses. The girls are even given the titular "one night with the king," the equivalent of a one-on-one, let's really get to know each other date. Hadassah is among the captured potential brides, of course, and she changes her name to the more Babylonian-sounding Esther in order to fit in and hide her Jewishness. She soon wins the king's heart—he's intrigued when she reads him the Old Testament love story of Jacob and Rachel—and they're happily wed in a posh ceremony atop raked-out piles of marigold petals. Never mind that there's no hint of real romantic passion whatsoever in the actual biblical version of the story, although—to be fair—One Night With the King does stick fairly closely to the text in most other regards.
If the first half of the film is an unlikely romance, the second half is a convoluted political thriller of quickly flagging interest. Fringe's John Noble plays Admatha, a manipulative regent conspiring to usurp the throne with the help of the movie's real villain, Haman the Agagite (James Callis), an evil vizier who hopes to settle an ancient blood feud by murdering all of Persia's Jews. He justifies this plan to Xerxes by saying they can use dead Jews' possessions to fund the war effort—which sounds uncomfortably familiar, right?—and the conflicted king might've approved the drastic measures if not for the brave intervention of Esther, who risks her life to save her people.
The problem with One Night with the King is not that the biblical story itself isn't captivating, but that the way it's told here isn't, with belabored twists, long stretches of obtuse dialogue, and the tries-too-hard hokeyness that sometimes suffuses entertainment aimed at predominantly Christian audiences. Let's be honest, for every Shadowlands or The Apostle, there are scores of sentiment-over-substance doozies like Fireproof, the Left Behind series, and Faith Like Potatoes. There's also the issue of the cast. While John Rhys-Davies and Omar Sharif—in his little part—are excellent, most of the other performances are weak. Luke Goss makes a dopey Xerxes—couldn't they have gotten someone who looks a bit more genuinely Persian?—and Tiffany Dupont brings too much whimsy and not enough strength to the role of Esther, one of the Bible's most memorable female heroes.
One Night with the King Blu-ray, Video Quality
One Night with the King makes its Blu-ray debut with a generally strong 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, framed in the proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio and placed with no real evidence of compression on a single-layer, 25GB disc. Shot on 35mm, the movie's grain pattern and natural filmic look is preserved here, untouched by digital noise reduction, edge enhancement, or other types of filtering. If you get close to your screen—particularly if you have a larger one—you may notice some occasional white specks on the print, but from a normal viewing distance these aren't really visible. Besides a few periodic soft shots, clarity is excellent, with the various hand-woven fabrics, intricate jewelries, and pieces of armor revealing fine detail and texture in nearly every frame. Color is nicely graded too—dense, with good contrast—and shooting the film in India seems to have inspired the visual palette, which is rich with golds and vibrant floral hues. The CGI can sometimes look cheap, and the decision to put some 24fps footage into slow motion for key scenes results in flicker and choppiness, but otherwise there aren't any substantive complaints to level at the picture quality.
One Night with the King Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I wasn't expecting it, but I was occasionally impressed by One Night with the King's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound track, which features some surprisingly decent sound design. What could've easily been a thin, front-heavy experience is actually quite immersive at times, especially whenever there's a lot of action occurring onscreen. Horses' hooves thunder through the rear channels. Rain pours and thunder reverberates. Swords clang and arrows zip to and fro. In the quieter scenes, you'll often hear appreciable low-level ambience in the surrounds, from wind and birds and insect sounds to the atmospherics of a royal feast. The film's Middle Eastern-tinged orchestral score floods the soundfield as called for, and the music is clear and tight and anchored by strong bass. On top of all this, dialogue is always cleanly recorded and easily understood. (Although the mishmash of accents —from British to American to Persian—is weird, and doesn't quite work as well as it did in, say, Valkyrie). The disc includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles, which appear in crisp white lettering inside the frame.
One Night with the King Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extra on the disc is a new audio commentary—recorded in 2012—featuring screenwriter Stephan Blinn and producers Matthew Crouch and Richard Cook, who collectively describe the film's production as "a miracle."
One Night with the King Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
One Night with the King has the look of a large-scale biblical epic—which is genuinely impressive considering its relatively small budget—but its storytelling lacks clarity and the shortcomings of the script are amplified by a few weak performances. They can't all be The Passion of the Christ. Still, I know some audiences—namely, church women's ministries—have latched onto the film for its positive portrayal of a female biblical role model, and fans should be glad to see the movie finally get the high definition treatment. Minus a few specks and flecks, 20th Century Fox's transfer is solid, and the disc includes a decent new audio commentary about the making of the film.
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One Night with the King Blu-ray, News and Updates
• One Night with the King Blu-ray - January 17, 2013
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray Michael O. Sajbel's epic adventure film One Night the King (2006), starring Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, John Noble, and Omar Sharif. Street date is March 5th.
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