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Jack Conrad is a death row prisoner in a corrupt Central American prison who is "purchased" by a wealthy television producer to take part in an illegal reality game show. Brought to a desolate island, Conrad finds himself trapped in a fight to the death against nine other condemned killers from all corners of the world. With no possible escape - and millions of viewers watching the uncensored violence online - Conrad must use all his strength to remain the last man standing... and earn his only chance at freedom.
For more about The Condemned and the The Condemned Blu-ray release, see the The Condemned Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 10, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Austin, Robert Mammone, Victoria Mussett, Manu Bennett, Vinnie Jones, Rick Hoffman
Director: Scott Wiper
» See full cast & crew
The Condemned Blu-ray Review
This fun, over the top action-adventure film is a feast for the senses.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 10, 2007
The Condemned is another in a long list of films focusing on the hunting of human beings, such as The Most Dangerous Game (1932), The Running Man (1987), and Hard Target (1993). This film falls somewhere in between these in terms of quality. Better than Hard Target but not as good as the two former, The Condemned is a fun nonstop action romp featuring completely over-the-top, one dimensional cardboard cutout characters, dialogue that only serves to get from one action sequence to the next, and a plot thin on content and thinner on meaning. Despite all these flaws, the film is actually a pretty fun turn-your-brain-off action adventure.
The Condemned stars Robert Mammone as Breckel, a producer behind a new reality show entitled, you guessed it, The Condemned. The plot behind the show is simple. Take 10 death row inmates from around the world, strap a bomb to their leg, and drop them on an island. The last one standing gets a free pardon and the means to start a new life. The competition will be cutthroat (literally) as the prisoners are forced to murder each other with any means necessary, deception being a good starting spot. Because of the violent nature of the show, no netowrk will air it and Beckel is forced to turn to the Internet. He wants everyone on the Internet to know this is happening and advertises heavily on sports and gaming websites. He is obsessed with having the ten represent different regions of the world so as to draw the largest possible audience, but when one contestant dies before the show, he is forced to find a replacement. That replacement is the American Pro Wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin playing Jack Conrad, a former special forces operative wrongfully imprisoned in a South American jail for over a year. Conrad has no choice but to go, and he is pitted against English madman McStarley (Vinnie Jones), also ex-special forces who has committed just about every atrocity in the book. It should come as no surprise that these two will be the last two men standing, and all that is left to ponder is who will ultimately come out on top? I'll give you one guess...
Stone Cold is wonderfully subdued in this movie and he plays the role well. He'll never be a great actor, or even on the same level as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (another ex-wrestler), but he fits in really well in this role. Give him the right vehicle, and he could be a fun actor to watch over the next few years in films like this. All in all, this is an alright movie and thankfully it doesn't try to be anything more than an action vehicle for Stone Cold and the opportunity to blow some stuff up in spectacular fashion on screen. I can't fault a movie for not being ashamed for what it is. It's pure action camp, and it delivers as an all out action movie.
The Condemned Blu-ray, Video Quality
This is a flawless presentation. Filmed with high definition cameras to start with, it comes as no surprise that this is a reference quality presentation from start to finish. Every detail, every drop of sweat and blood, and every grain of facial hair is present and accounted for here, and they are as clear as if the actors were standing right in front of you. The image pops right off the screen and this is one of the finest presentations I have ever seen, period. The greens of foliage on the island and the beautiful blues of the water are a delight to behold. Much of the scenery in this film is pure eye candy. Flesh tones are accurate and consistent. Black levels are perfect throughout and night scenes look gorgeous. Brightness is not cranked up during darker scenes to show more detail, and what detail there is to be seen is never obscured by the darkness of night. We see everything director Scott Wiper intended, exactly as he envisioned. Though a transfer of a brand new film shot in high def turning out to be reference grade on another high def medium comes as no surprise, kudos are still in order for Lionsgate for not dropping the ball here and presenting what is easily one of the top transfers yet on Blu-ray.
The Condemned Blu-ray, Audio Quality
In typical (and very nice) Lionsgate fashion, a DTS HD 7.1 audio track is available for your listening pleasure, along with a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. This is a loud, rumbling track. Bass is heavy though there is little distortion, and this is one you can and should crank up and enjoy. It's surround heavy throughout with awesome directionality and the sounds follow the onscreen action perfectly. When you hear a twig break or a gun shot and the character on screen looks over his left shoulder, you hear what he hears behind you, to the left. It's a wonderful production that has been tailored for the audience of a film of this type that demands such an engaging sonic experience. One negative for me was that the music is so boisterous that it can get annoying at times, so keep the remote handy for when it gets to be too much of a sensory overload. Part of this may just be that I didn't care for some of the musical selections, but you very well may love all of them. It's hardly enough of a distraction, especially being a personal preference, that it detracts from the overall score. Dialogue and other important audio cues are never drowned out by this bass heavy track. Like the picture, this is a reference quality audio track, one that will likely remain one of your top demo choices for some time.
The Condemned Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The primary supplements on this disc are two audio commentaries. One is a solo effort by director Scott Wiper and the second features Wiper alongside actor "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Wiper's track is very straight forward. He discusses some interesting background on filming locations, his artistic decisions throughout, working with the various actors and the strengths they brought to the film, as well as building believable characters. There is some dead air, but Wiper talks fast and he probably gets in everything he wants to say for a nearly two hour film in an hour and a half. This is a pretty dry track. Wiper's voice is rather monotone, but his information is solid.
The track with Steve Austin is a lot more fun. Austin discusses his initial reaction to the script and turning down the opportunity to star in the John Cena action vehicle The Marine. He was originally offered the role of the villain, but he eventually got the role of Jack Conrad. Austin is lively throughout and he genuinely loves this film and his coworkers in the movie. His candor in the commentary and the documentaries is refreshing. He is an intelligent individual and you can't help but to like him after listening to the track. I hope to see him again in some action movies in the future.
The Making of The Condemned is a five part making-of documentary (480p, 37:53). Cast and crew discuss the making of the film, the story, the training and making of the fight scenes, and creating the "control room." There is also an interesting look into Steve Austin's trailer and life during the making of the film and his relationship with co-star Vinnie Jones. This is a well put together look into the making of the film and is a worthwhile addition to the supplements.
19 deleted and extended scenes, each with optional director's commentary are available. They are presented in 480p and run a combined 48 minutes in length.
Other features include Capital Carnage Reunion (480p, 3:32), which is a look at a Vinnie Jones appearance on a wrestling event back in 1998, and Stone Cold at Movie World (480p, 1:51) is a series of brief interviews of fans waiting to get Stone Cold's autograph. Storyboard Sequences (480p, 6:02) is a comparison of the final shot of the film compared to the storyboards for the same shot. A 1080p theatrical trailer (featuring my favorite movie trailer voice) for The Condemned finishes off the supplements.
The Condemned Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Condemned is a fun popcorn action movie. It's not the best of its sub genre, but its a fun ride from beginning to end. Well crafted and beautiful to behold visually and aurally, The Condemned is a great Blu-ray that every action movie fan will certainly love to have in their high-def collection. There is a very solid group of supplements, and Steve Austin is a lot of fun to listen to. This is Lionsgate's best release to date and hopefully is indicative of more great things to come from the studio. Recommended.
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