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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Mystery > Train > British > Martial Arts Cycle > Satire > Gangster > The Last Passenger (2012/Cohen Media U.S. Region A vs. Umbrella Region B Import Blu-rays)/Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Sitting Target (1972/MGM/Warner

The Last Passenger (2012/Cohen Media U.S. Region A vs. Umbrella Region B Import Blu-rays)/Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Sitting Target (1972/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)


Picture: B-/B-/C+ Sound: B-/B-/C Extras: C & C-/B-/C- Films: C+/C/C



PLEASE NOTE: The Last Passenger Import version Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray players that can handle the Region B format, as is the case with Remo Williams, another Region B Blu-ray. It is now only available with its extensive extras from our friends at Arrow U.K., while Sitting Target is another Warner Archive online DVD exclusive, also available only from its website. All can be ordered from the links below.



This is one of our most unique mixes of action film coverage we've had in a while, films offering mixed results that still have their moments...



Omid Nooshin's The Last Passenger (2012) tries to join the great list of thrillers involving trains, but despite some great potential starting with the underrated Dougray Scott in the lead, it never builds enough suspense, has too many bad red herrings, bad visual effects, overacting, a huge lack of suspense and never capitalizes on any of its visuals as a medical dad (Scott) travels with his son Max (Joshua Kaynama coming across way too much like a British version of Danny in Kubrick's The Shining) it what seems like a normal trip, but as the number of customers dwindle down, things get odd and then the train starts passing scheduled stops. What is going on?


There is a superfluous reason this is happening that we eventually find out about, but the script never really gives us a compelling back story to this, so this makes the train seem to want to keep moving no matter what. Is it supernatural too? Never even implied? Terrorists? We don't see any? So what is going on? It could have even been ambiguous and made us wonder while never totally explaining itself, but the makers have no idea what they are doing and I waited to watch this to make sure I was seeing a transfer that was accurate. The Cohen Media Region A and Umbrella Region B Blu-rays are just about the same, so no flaws got in the way of my taking this one in. Too bad, because enough talent was there, but this ultimately is just a package deal gone wrong.


I reviewed the import before at this link:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/12622/Scream+Park+(2013/Wild+Eye/MVD+DVD)/Daleks


Extras this time on the U.S. version repeat the Original Theatrical Trailer, then adds B-Roll clip, four promo clips to promote the film and compilation of interview clips with various cast & crew running over an hour. It is barely the best entry here.



Guy Hamilton's Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) was based on the Destroyer action novel series and Orion Pictures thought it might make for a big, modernized franchise in that combined elements of James Bond and Indiana Jones with the then-current martial arts cycle. Hamilton had directed four mostly big hit Bond films (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die) and one (his last one) that bombed, only to become a cult hit (The Man With The Golden Gun, all reviewed elsewhere on this site). He planned to helm The Spy Who Loved Me (whose co-writer Christopher Wood wrote the script here as he had for Moonraker), left to do Superman, and landed up doing neither, so he moved onto other projects.


It should be added that he proved he could still make a great genre film (his 1982 film of Agatha Christie's Evil Under The Sun is disgustingly underrated) so you could see why Hamilton was picked to make Remo Williams. With some odd touches, odd humor and unintentionally amusing (and even politically incorrect) moments, Fred Ward played the title character, trained by a mysterious, odd Korean mystical fighting expert (Joel Gray, taking up more of the early parts of the film than it should), followed by often unrealistic fighting sequences where he is an assassin out to stop a corrupt group from defrauding the U.S. Army.


Hamilton even add Hitchcock touches as he seems to be trying to pick up where he left off on The Man With The Golden Gun, but the silliest possible sides of that film are here full tilt and then they add elements of 1970s thrillers, so everything but the kitchen sink is here and the result is a bomb for Orion that did not help the company in the long run or help Ward become the lead he had hoped for. The satire, even when in the Doc Savage/Buckaroo Banzai mode, is inconsistent. Wilford Brimley, Kate Mulgrew and Jon Polito are among the unusual supporting cast. An odd work all genre fans should see once, but don't expect much.


Extras include a reversible cover and another illustrated booklet on the film including informative text as Arrow usually adds, while the Blu-ray adds a brand new feature length audio commentary track by co-producers Larry Spiegel & Judy Goldstein on the making of the film including Hamilton's approach to the production, the Original Theatrical Trailer, an isolated Music & Sound Effects track and four Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes: make-up piece Changing Faces with lead artist Carl Fullerton, music score look Notes For A Nobleman with composer Craig Safan, Joel Gray discussing his controversial casting in When East Meets West and the longer (77 minutes) Remo, Rambo, Reagan & Reds including interviews by film critic/historian Howard S. Berger, Asian cinema expert Bey Logan, Commando director Mark L. Lester, American Ninja director Sam Firstenberg, Angel producer Donald P. Borchers and film author/professor Susan Jeffords, writer of the amazing and amazingly prophetic book Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity In The Reagan Era, which we strongly recommend.



Douglas Hickox's Sitting Target (1972) is an interesting entry in the cycle of hard, tough British crime (and gangster films) happening at the time with Oliver Reed as a convict who becomes so furious with his girlfriend (Jill St. John doing a good British accent) telling him in a prison visit that she is leaving him and is pregnant with another man's baby that he intends to break out and kill her!


Ian McShane is one of his few friends in prison and they will escape together with a brainy con named MacNeil (Freddie Jones) and get something only hardened criminals get, guns! This has some interesting moments, but there are more than a few sloppy moments and bad visual effects as well (see the process shooting with the car interiors). Frank Findlay shows up as a corrupt old friend and Edward Woodward (the original Equalizer, Callan) plays the inspector trying to protect the girlfriend but is highly underutilized to the film's detriment. Still, it is worth a look for all the talent involved and I worth a look for what does work.


A TV trailer is the only extra.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on both copies of Last are exactly the same, shot with an Arri Alexa HD camera, but using old, great, real anamorphic J-D-C Scope lenses (now handled by Panavision) used on films like Return Of The Jedi, Year Of the Dragon and Blue Velvet add some atmosphere and character to the shots, but that is foiled by detail issues, slight image fluctuation and bad visual CGI effects I thought might only be inherent to the Umbrella edition. Color varies, detail can be poorer in some shots than others and outdoor shots can look better than indoor ones too often. A British edition is in a lesser 1080/50i Blu-ray and sounds like it has the same issues.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Remo can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film despite this being from an older HD master with its own image inconsistencies, color issues, depth and detail limits. It does try for a 1980s style action/adventure look (images are phony clear, but not always natural), but that too makes it look dated.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Target was issued in MetroColor prints and has some nice form by Director of Photography Edward Scaife (Khartoum, The Dirty Dozen (see both elsewhere on this site), The Kremlin Letter) with some form shots that put it ahead of the other films on the list. James Bond editor (and later 5-time director) John Glen edited the film.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix both Blu-ray editions of Last are identical, with dialogue well recorded enough, but not as loud as the sound effects (which can sound too loud and/or digital) and music. The resulting imbalance is a little awkward and works against it. The PCM 2.0 Stereo on the Remo has Pro Logic-like surrounds and was issued in Dolby's old analog A-type theatrical noise reduction sound format on 35mm film prints. Some sound is actually pretty good here including the music score, but other sound can show its age including the odd Tommy Shaw (Styx) solo semi-title song. Still, this is the best this ever sounded. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Target is which may be the poorest of the three, but sounds good for its age and the format. John Barry's interesting score comes through well enough and deserves some kind of isolated track if they ever make a Blu-ray version.



You can order the loaded Remo Williams Region B Blu-ray import at:


http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/


...order the Umbrella import Region B Blu-ray version of The Last Passenger at this link:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/


and to order Sitting Target on Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.warnerarchive.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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