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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Murder > Detective > War > Vietnam > Monster > Flight Of The Intruder/Jade/The Relic (Paramount/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

Flight Of The Intruder/Jade/The Relic (Paramount/Lionsgate Blu-ray)


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



Paramount continues their licensing to Lionsgate of titles in their catalog for the Blu-ray format with three odder entries from three directors know for doing key genre work and exceeding genre in their work as well.  John Milius is known as a tough-guy writer/director from U.S. cinema’s counterculture past and writes many of his own films, while contributing to the Dirty Harry films and even Jaws.  William Friedkin helmed classics like The French Connection, The Exorcist and controversial films like Crusing and To Live & Die In L.A., will forever be associated with thrillers despite his work outside of them.  Peter Hyams is an action director whose hit Capricorn One was followed by memorable films like Outland, The Star Chamber and the underrated remake of Narrow Margin.


Each of these cases are attempts to do more commercial films and to have hits, but in all the cases, things did not go as planned.


Milius had the sorry timing of his 1991 film Flight Of The Intruder hitting theaters the weekend the U.S. started Operation Desert Storm, so that killed the picture financially and he has not directed a feature film since.  The tale of A-6 Intruder fighters used during the Vietnam debacle is a tough guy melodrama that never really worked despite a cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Danny Glover, Brad Johnson, Rosanna Arquette, Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames and Red Brown.  Pretending Vietnam was a different situation (i.e., like WWII), the film is flat and dull with nowhere much to go.  Now, it is just a curio.


Joe Eszterhas wrote Basic Instinct and every studio wanted another such hit, so studio head Sherry Lansing paired Friedkin (her husband) with the script for Jade (1995) and a cast that included David Caruso (still a target after leaving NYPD Blue), Linda Fiorentino, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Biehn, Richard Crenna, Kevin Tighe and Angie Everhart in a murder thriller with a killer wielding an old hatchet.  It is too similar to the previous hit in plot, but Friedkin tries to make it work.  This is the shorter R-rated cut and does not work as well as the uncut version, in fairness to all involved.  Add the critics out to get Eszterhas with those out to get Caruso and the film did not have a chance.


Hyams was hot off of a big hit with Jean-Claude Van Damme and a smaller film when he took on The Relic (1997) with Penelope Ann Miller at her early peak doing an action film in the James Cameron mode with a giant monster on the loose made possible by the title item.  No more than a fun genre film at best, it was not a big hit, but has its fans and with additional casting that includes Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, Tom Sizemore, Diane Robbin, Francis X. McCarthy, Audra Lindley and Constance Towers, you get odd casting as well that makes this oddly watchable more than you would think.  Too bad the script is formulaic.



The 1080p 1.78 on Jade is softer and weaker throughout than it should be and thanks in part to Director of Photography Andrzej (Speed, The Verdict) Bartkowiak, A.S.C., is a much better looking film than what we get here.  This is likely an older HD master for the R-rated cut and when they do the uncut edition down the line, need to do a brand-new transfer.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 image on both Relic and Flight also disappoint, both shot in Super 35mm and showing their age as a result, but the problems are different in each case.


Flight (lensed by Director of Photography Fred J. Koenekamp, A.S.C., of Billy Jack and The Towering Inferno) is also an older HD master, but holds up better than the other two Blu-rays, yet detail is weak, there is noise where there should not be and color can also be limited.  Hyams lensed Relic himself and the imitation of James Cameron’s films is more obvious visually than ever before, yet he does a better job than most and the look is more consistent than most in the genre.


The Relic is infamous for looking too dark ion previous DVD and other incarnations, so though the Blu-ray has more clarity, it is not as much as the 35mm film prints of the time would have had and this too is an older HD master with noise, detail issues and other flaws that should not be there.  It is just too soft.  In all cases, darker shots have more troubles than bright ones.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless soundmixes in all cases is the first time any of these films have been in DTS in the U.S. market.  Older home theater fans of The Relic will note the sound has been upgraded to a 7.1 mix and almost was a DTS DVD until Paramount decided not to do DTS.  However, there is a clip of the climax of the film in DTS 5.1 on the still-collectible DTS Demo DVD No. 4 fans and home theater experts used as a demo for years.  Though the image quality is weak on some clips, the sound is not.  Compare the DTS DVD clip of the same scene with Miller vs. the monster to the Blu-ray’s sound and you can hear the 7.1 was stretching things a bit.


You do get some good base of the monster running around and crashing through things, but it is weakened by the extension.  Flight has the best mix in its DTS 5.1, which comes from the advanced Dolby analog SR (Spectral Recording) mix and is one of the better upgrades, but it is still dated and weak.  Jade was originally a Dolby Digital release, but is oddly the weakest-sounding film here, no doubt again from the older soundmaster.


There are hardly any extras here.  All have trailers for their respective films and other Lionsgate titles, but Relic adds an interview featurette with Hyams and audio commentary track by Hyams.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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