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 > Crime > Science Fiction > Face/Off (HD-DVD + DVD-Video)

Face/Off (HD-DVD + DVD-Video)


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



Why does John Woo keep running to trouble in his Hollywood productions?  It is because his freestyle of action filmmaking is contradictory to the Hollywood action film, especially as it stands in its restricted, formulaic version since the 1980s.  That is what makes his 1997 hit Face/Off so odd.  It tries to take breaks from the formula for its action, but cannot escape the enclosings of the formula enough to make the film really work.


What is also interesting is that the combined clout of Travolta and Cage opened up that formula enough to allow their performances to come through, though that is still not enough that they do not get tripped up against their will here and there, but it does make the film interesting enough in spots to see at least once.


The tale involves a super criminal (Cage) being tracked down by his arch nemesis of the law (Travolta) and how much they just cannot stand each other.  The Sci-Fi twist happens when the villain is captured and the hero finds out he can temporarily assume his identity with a laser face transplant.  Too bad the laser effects look like Logan’s Run circa 1976.


When Cage escapes, the next battle royal is on.  To be honest, the ambitious efforts of the actors save the film.  Woo is talented, but seems at least partly adrift in his U.S. big budget romps.  The energy and chemistry of the leads, along with decent support from the likes of Joan Allen and Gina Gershon keep the film going.  In all this, the film has aged, but not as badly as many similar efforts.  That is why it continues to be a title of interest on home video and an early back catalog release in HD-DVD from Paramount.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot by Director of Photography Oliver Wood in real anamorphic 35mm Panavision, which is why it looks so good so often, yet there are some minor color and detail flaws here and there that hold the transfer back a little too often.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD is softer and has more detail troubles, but both look better than past transfers.  The film has a decent sound mix, available in Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD and slightly better Dolby “Plus” on the HD, but both share DTS mixes which are easily the preferred way to heart the film.  Joining the Blu-ray of Woo’s Windtalkers (in DTS MA) and his Mission: Impossible 2 (released in both formats, the Blu-ray is out of print), Woo’s Hollywood productions are never sound poor and this is no exception.  It is also one of the reasons the film did as well as it did.  Too bad DTS is not on more Paramount titles, let alone DTS HD, DTS MA or Dolby TrueHD.


Extras on both are the same and include deleted scenes, alternate ending with optional commentary (in HD on the HD-DVD), two making of/behind the scenes featurettes (both in HD on the HD-DVD), the original theatrical trailer (in HD on the HD-DVD) and feature length audio commentary by Woo and co-writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary.  No wonder they ne3eded two discs for each format.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com