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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe (Blu-ray)
Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe (Blu-ray)
Fox // Unrated // July 26, 2011 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 2, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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The Movie:
 
In the TV show Burn Notice Bruce Campbell steals just about every scene he's in.  As ex-Navy Seal and shameless womanizer Sam Axe (a tribute to Ash, the role he played in The Evil Dead Trilogy).  He's well-connected, tough, and very irreverent which lends the character a great deal of charm.  It only seems natural that they'd someday reveal just how and why Sam left the US Navy.  Instead of telling the story as a sidebar in Burn Notice, Campbell gets his own made-for-TV movie:   The Fall of Sam Axe.  While the feature-length film does have some holes, when all is said and done it's a fun romp and a well deserved moment in the spotlight for Axe.
 
Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) is in trouble.  Escorted by MPs to a hearing room, he's asked to tell his part in a military fiasco that happened down somewhere in South America.   He starts at the 'unofficial' beginning of the story, where he is caught in bed with his latest conquest:  unfortunately (and unbeknownst to the sailor) an admiral's hot trophy wife.  For that indiscretion he's sent to Columbia.  A governor there has requested US assistance in getting rid of a terrorists group, The Flaming Sword.  Axe is supposed to observe and assess the situation, for as long as it takes.  Months wouldn't be out of the question. 
 
Axe is put with Comandante Veracruz's team and together they go into the jungle to check out a piece of intelligence.  Veracruz has heard that the Flaming Sword is going to attack a small hospital in the middle of nowhere that's strategically important.  When they get to the medical center, operated by a doctor, Ben Delaney (RonReaco Lee), and an aid worker, Amanda Maples (Kiele Sanchez), they don't get a warm reception.  The pair does not want the military around, in their experience they're the problem not the solution, and tell the men to leave.
 
That evening Axe slips out of his tent and follows Veracruz.  He overhears his plan to destroy the hospital himself, kill all the patients, and blame it on the Flaming Sword so that they can get a bunch of American foreign aide.  And Sam?  He'll have to kill him too.
 
After hearing this Sam takes off to warn the hospital.  He manages to get there in time, but only an hour or so before Veracruz.  He needs a diversion to save the patients and staff, so with the aid of a plucky young girl he finds, Beatriz (Ilza Rosario) he MacGyver's bomb and blows up the hospital, driving away in the smoke and confusion.  But, it is miles and miles to the nearest hospital and they need some place safe to hide until help can arrive.  That's when Beatriz suggests hiding with the Flaming Sword.  Something Sam does not want to do, but realizes that he has no choice.
 
This was a fun show, not meant to be taken too seriously.  Like Burn Notice, this isn't supposed to show the gritty reality of a situation, instead it's an entertaining way to spend an evening and it succeeds at what it sets out to do.  Campbell is one hell of a charismatic guy and he puts that to good use in this movie.  The film is fun while Campbell's on screen, which thankfully is most of the time, and he's the same loveable, deadly goofball as he plays on his TV show.  There are some really fun moments, like when the members of the Flaming Sword give Sam a nickname, The Chin, and we also get to see the origin of Chuck Finnley, the cover name Axe uses (often with great comical effect) on Burn Notice.  A scene late in the movie where Sam, unarmed, offers a small army the chance to surrender is also classic Sam Axe.
 
Having said that, and I did enjoy the movie, you really have to be willing to suspend your disbelief.  There are a lot of plot holes and things that just wouldn't happen in real life (not limited to the deal Sam cuts at the end of the movie) both large and small.  If you're the type of person who gets pulled out of a film when an admiral calls a Navy man "soldier" (it should be "sailor") they you'll have a lot of trouble with the film.  If you can just sit back and relax though, you'll have a good time.
 
The DVD:

 
Audio:
 
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track does a good job of putting the viewer in the middle of the action.  It's not a spectacular mix, but this is a made-for-TV movie, and when you take that into consideration it's pretty damn good.  The explosions and battle noises have a good amount of impact and the rest of the time the sound field is used to good effect too.  
 
Video:
 
I wasn't expecting a lot from this since the Blu-rays of Burn Notice weren't stellar.  To my pleasant surprise the disc looks very good.   The colors were strong and solid, the level of detail was good to excellent, and the whole production had a nice tone.  Digitally things look equally good with no significant compression artifacts.  This is a nice looking film.
 
Extras:
 
There are only a few extras, but they're all great and I'll take quality over quantity any day.  First off is a commentary track with Bruce Campbell, (director of the film and star of Burn Notice) Jeffrey Donovan, and Matt Nix.  It's great fun and something you'll want to listen to.  Next is a faux making-of featurette The Fall of Jeffrey Donovan.  Running a little over 10 minutes, it shows how the TV star jumped behind the camera, and went crazy filming this movie in Columbia.  It's a lot of fun and one of the best behind-the-scenes bits (even though it's a parody) that I've ever seen.  They also include a panel at Comic-Con from 2010 that's funny and informative though it would have been more fun if you were actually there.  The extras are wrapped up with a little more than a minute worth of deleted scenes. 
 
Final Thoughts:
 
If you enjoy Bruce Campbell on Burn Notice, you enjoy seeing (at least some of) his character's background in this TV film.  We finally get to see just how and why Sam Axe left the Navy and on top of that how he settled on Chuck Finnley as his cover identity, and the latter alone is worth the price of admission.  Recommended.
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