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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Drama > Murder > Thailand > WWII > British > Mystery > Spy > Vietnam > Literatur > Broken Sword Hero (2017/Well Go Blu-ray w/DVD)/Play Dirty (1968/United Artists/MGM)/The Quiet American (1958/United Artists/MGM/both Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Undercurrent (1946/MGM/Warn

Broken Sword Hero (2017/Well Go Blu-ray w/DVD)/Play Dirty (1968/United Artists/MGM)/The Quiet American (1958/United Artists/MGM/both Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Undercurrent (1946/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Play Dirty and Quiet American Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while the Undercurrent DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



There is suspense to be found in these different films that try to inhabit more than their genre and offer interesting results...



Broken Sword Hero


All Joi Thong Dee (Buakaw Banchamek) wanted was to become the greatest Muay Thai warrior. He decides to goes on a journey find a master to teach him, but on the road it isn't easy, as he meets bandits, opponents and people who want to see him dead. He uses his skills to protect the weak from the strong, but being a master isn't just about being stronger, but being a master of oneself in Bin Bunluerlit's Broken Sword Hero (2017).


Joi s a tougher than average street fighter until one day he was chased out of town by a spoiled prince and his men. Thong Dee then moves from town to town learning from any master he can find, from Chinese Kung-fu, Muai Thai boxing to sword fighting. On the road he uses his new found skills protect his friends, the innocent and against social injustice. Thong Dee soon becomes a legend, a hero to the people, an inspiration of strength, determination, courage and freedom.


Get ready for sweaty, glistening, scantly clad men with hard hitting Muay Thai kickboxing. Based on a legendary hero from Thailand, Muay Thai is considered a real life combat sport with emphasis on close quarter fighting, toughness, conditioning and fighting tactics. The story is about a young street fighter is able to overcome the odds and become a better person (as well as become a champion of the people).



Play Dirty


Harry Saltzman was not only the co-producer of the James Bond films in the 1960s, but had his own separate solo productions and one of the most interesting is one of the few War films that got it in how to imitate the success of the original Dirty Dozen. Play Dirty (1968) was gritty filmmaker Andre de Toth's last feature film and reunited Saltzman with Michael Caine, who was still playing crook-turned-spy Harry Palmer for Saltzman in a trilogy of films that began with the 1965 classic The Ipcress File, so its great he could be in a cast that included Nigel Davenport, Harry Andrews, Nigel Green, Vivian Pickles, Jeremy Child, Aly Ben Ayed and a solid cast set in North Africa circa WWII.


The British Empire sends their roughest, toughest, most unethical men on a mission to screw-up the Nazis and Axis interests as severely as possible as that older attempt at an evil empire hell bent on world domination has left no land unwanted in their attempt to invade and steal it all. Of course, it will not be easy, some of these people are undesirables for a reason and the conflicts between them get as volatile as the war itself. Yet, this is also a great set of character studies with an amazing amount of acting talent to match, so it becomes not just a copy of the Hollywood hit, but a smart flipside that is far more hard-hitting than the lame attempts to rip off this cycle that are all talk, dumb and lame action. Its sad this one has not been rediscovered like it deserves to, but with Dunkirk coming to Blu-ray soon, the timing of this key limited edition form Twilight Time could not be better. Edward Scaife actually wad the Director of Photography on The Dirty Dozen, so Saltzman hired him for this and that also helped a great bit.



Joseph L. Mankiewicz's The Quiet American (1958) was made by the writer/director only a few years after All About Eve, so the fact he wanted to take on something grittier and different is to his credit. Based on the Graham Greene novel, Michael Redgrave is a U.K. journalist who is reporting on the successes and failures of France in their war in Vietnam (the one the United states would soon take over with even more disastrous results) getting too involved with a young local woman (Giorgia Moll) whom he should stay away from, especially since he is married.


Things get more twisted when an upbeat American visitor (Audie Murphy in a solid turn here) is also interested in her, even offering to marry her, but the reporter starts to think he is a spy or even terrorist and starts making moves without fully investigating what is really going on. From there, things can only get more twisted.


The film is a mix of things that work, casting that works, some moments that do not, a few additional things that might seem to run on and a few items that may border on racism for some people, yet it is a fascinating film to watch as nearly 60 years later, we are STILL dealing with the fallout of Vietnam no matter what your opinion. The film is certainly literate enough and has some interesting visual moments as well.


It may not be for everyone, but for the curious, they should consider this a must-see film.



Finally we have Vincente Minnelli, best know for his musicals and romances, doing one of his darker tales (ala Some Came Running) with Undercurrent (1946), a film that starts out as a comedy of sorts as Katharine Hepburn falls for wealthy Robert Taylor, but soon finds him turning on her and being angry, while they are all haunted by the strange disappearance of his brother who may be dead and possibly even killed because he knew something he should not have.


Soon, the comedy and romance is over as she starts to suspect her newly wed 'love' and starts to investigate on her own. We are as much in the dark as she is, so the suspense comes from that and when a young Robert Mitchum shows up (solidifying its semi-Noir side) you know something is amiss. We also hear about her husband's first wife and then she's stuck in a big house of wealth she cannot get out of, so the film is haunted by Hitchcock's own haunted classic Rebecca (reviewed elsewhere on this site).


The film is not that good and though the money is here and the actors are great to watch, the film is a bit long at 116 minutes and is not as memorable or impactful as it could have been. Still, it is a curio worth a look and shows how glamorous Hepburn was early in her career.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Sword is the only HD shoot here and look really good for the format throughout with some fine footage and consistent at that, while the anamorphically enhanced DVD is much softer than expected.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dirty was shot on 35mm film with anamorphic Panavision lenses and can compete at times, but is also grittier and grainer as intended and expected. The film was also issued in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor prints and though the War genre does not usually lend itself to that kind of advanced color, you can see how that could work here to make the middle of nowhere all the more palpable.


The 1080p 1.66 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Quiet can show the age of the materials used with some shots looking better than others, including some parts that look a little more worn than expected, but this looks fine others.


The 1.33 X 1 black & white image on Undercurrent is the poorest performer here as from an older transfer and sometimes problematic print (despite the money MGM even put out for their black and white films) so it is even poorer than the Sword DVD and needs a new HD transfer. It deserves it too.


As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Sword is easily the sonic winner here, a brand new recording that is well mixed and presented, so the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on Dirty and Quiet can barely compete. However, they disappoint a bit because they are more aged than expected and have mild distortion at times, made more clear as compared to their DTS-MA isolated music scores (especially Dirty, whose music by Michel LeGrand is in fine, clear stereo throughout) so they just happened to be recorded with limited fidelity. They likely won't sound much better than they do here, but if the dialogue on Dirty existed in better form a nice stereo upgrade might have been possible.


Thus, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Sword DVD can sort of compete with those older film's mono sound, though it is still weak in its own way. Like the image, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Undercurrent sounds second-generation, so be careful of high playback levels and volume switching.


Extras include Original Theatrical Trailers in all cases, Quiet and Dirty add illustrated booklets on each respective film including informative text and yet another set of excellent, underrated essays by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while each Blu-ray itself also adds Isolated Music Score with select Sound Effects, leaving Undercurrent adding the Technicolor MGM cartoon Lonesome Lenny that may be a bit too violent for children and Academy Award-winning live-action short Traffic With The Devil, a comic look at driving and getting into trouble driving in L.A. with comedy that is still relevant today.



To order the Play Dirty and/or Quiet American limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/



...and to order the Undercurrent Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Ricky Chiang (Hero) & Nicholas Sheffo


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