Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Broken Arrow (1996/Blu-ray)

Broken Arrow (1996/Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C-     Film: C-



One of these days, someone needs to do a documentary about the Americanization of John Woo and how that did and did not work.  After the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Hard Target served as the awkward U.S. debut of director Woo, he quickly moved on to the larger-scale Broken Arrow in 1996.  It brought together John Travolta at the height of his revival and Christian Slater at the hoped for commercial launch of his career that never caught on.  This film is one of the reasons why.


Not a remake of the classic 1950 Western, but a silly thriller (written by Graham Yost) about a stolen nuclear warhead, indicated in the jargon of the film’s title, which is military shorthand for one of those warheads gone missing.  The leads play former Air Force buddies, but Travolta has stolen two warheads and intends to betray the U.S. to the highest bidder.  Slater intends to stop him, supposedly the only one who can and the chase is on.  Though Woo loves doing opposite characters who have disturbing common denominators, this does not work out very well in this film, which is more concerned with its visual effects and being slick than about its characters.


Definitely a silly piece of pre-9/11 fluff, the supporting cast that includes Samantha Mathis, Delroy Lindo, Frank Whaley, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Kurtwood Smith as Secretary Of Defense Baird cannot save this form being a banal actioner.  Furthermore, the worst piece of casting is former football player Howie Long, cast because Fox hoped he could be the next action star before he settled for a broadcasting career.  He never got material that gave him a chance and that makes his appearance the second most-dating aspect of the film next to the old digital work.


Woo continued to struggle with U.S. productions that were as much hit as miss, but Broken Arrow may just be the nadir of them all.  However, it has a small cult following like all Woo films that fail do.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital MPEG-2 @ 21 MPBS High Definition image looks like it is from an earlier HD master, likely the one used for the D-VHS and HD channel use.  The older use of digital video effects are the worst part of the image, but Peter Levy, A.C.S., delivers very generic cinematography making the film not very visually memorable.  It may look like money is on the screen, but who cares if it has no character.


The DTS HD Master Audio lossless 5.1 192kHz/24-bit soundtrack is the real star of the film for most people, especially those who have considered it sound demo material since the 12” DTS LaserDisc arrived with great sound design in keeping with most Woo films.  Not only is the DTS here superior and upgraded, but it has the additional enhancement of a D-BOX track.  The D-BOX Technology Odyssee Motion Simulator is a new version of the classic system Sensurround, except that it has more direct bass and motion placement like a specialty amusement park attraction.  Most people will not have this item either as of this posting, but it may catch on and this will be one of the primary titles that will make its success possible.  We look forward to retesting the sound on this title.


The only extra is the original theatrical trailer, but this does deliver enough sound performance to make it one of the better Blu-rays on the market and diehard fans of Woo or Travolta will be happy despite this being a basic edition.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com