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It took director Troy Duffy ten years to make a sequel to his cult hit The Boondock Saints, which hardly saw a theatrical release in 1999 but made over $50 million in video sales and rentals. The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is only the director's second film; the direct result of the explosive backlash to Duffy's obnoxious behavior after scoring a high-profile deal with Miramax for his Boondock Saints script. Fed up with Duffy's drinking and rapidly expanding ego, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein cut the original film's budget to shreds and had Duffy blacklisted in Hollywood. Duffy made his film anyway, and its poster became a staple in college dorm rooms across the country. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus return as Irish vigilantes the McManus brothers in All Saints Day and go back to Boston from Ireland after being framed for the murder of a priest. The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is violent, profane and miles away from subtle, but as trashy pulp entertainment it is not half bad.
After going on a killing spree that culminated in the murder of Boston kingpin Don Giuseppe Yakavetta, Connor (Flanery) and Murphy (Reedus) McManus fled to Ireland with their father, Il Duce (Billy Connolly). Eight years later, the brothers learn someone in Boston has called them to battle by framing them for the murder of a local priest. With little hesitation, the McManus brothers shed their peaceful demeanors and board a cargo ship to America. Along the way they meet a scrappy boxer, Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), who begs the brothers to let him join the cause. As the Saints begin their own detective work, which leads them to Yakavetta's son (Judd Nelson), brassy FBI Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz) works the murder case with the help of bumbling detectives Greenly (Bob Marley), Dolly (David Ferry) and Duffy (Brian Mahoney).
Duffy said repeatedly in the years preceding All Saints Day's release that he made it for the Boondock alliance, and his devotion shows. For better or worse, this sequel has more of almost everything people loved about the first film: More Saints, more shooting, more crass dialogue and more humor. All Saints Day is overstuffed with all this extra fan-baiting material, which weighs down the narrative, but it's not a bad sequel considering the first film is no masterpiece. And where that film felt like a Tarantino knock-off, All Saints Day at least feels like its own film even as it pays constant tribute to its predecessor.
The Saints are basically a combined character, and most lines and situations are interchangeable between Connor and Murphy. It's not that they lack charisma; it's just that the brothers don't talk much. They crack wise, rib each other incessantly, and pray before shooting gangsters. Their enigma is the real character. The plot in All Saints Day doesn't take a genius to unravel. Yakavetta's son, angry that the Saints killed his daddy and tired of living in fear of their return, draws the brothers out of hiding to kill them with the help of his own underlings like Gorgeous George (Bob Rubin). The Saints and their new Mexican sidekick then begin tearing down Boston's mob, setting things up nicely for a final battle that sees the whole family unloading clip after clip at the crumbling greenhouse of a shadowy criminal (Peter Fonda).
With Collins taking over for the Rocco character from the original, All Saints Day has its own suitably irritating sidekick, and Romeo splits his time annoying the brothers and landing a catch phrase. The three law-enforcing amigos are actually pretty funny, and Benz does her best to emulate the ticks of her former mentor, FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe, who - spoiler alert, I guess - makes a brief cameo). Duffy's script is packed full of profanity, and fans of salty language should enjoy Agent Bloom's back-and-forth with the Boston Police Department when she arrives a the crime scene. For a movie called The Boondock Saints II, the film spends a lot of time away from its anti-heroes. Bloom and her assistants are completely over-the-top annoying at times, but I admit I was mostly entertained by the clownish antics.
Like the original, All Saints Day likes to first show the aftermath of a shootout and then reveal, often via several perspectives, how it all went down. This allows for much gratuitous slow-motion gunfire, and living characters like to walk through said action while demonstrating what went down. All Saints Day is too rough around the edges to be considered style over substance, but it is intentionally bombastic. If you liked the first film, I suspect you will enjoy All Saints Day. If you hated the original, abandon all hope ye who push play. Everything you hated is back in spades. To some, that is high praise.
This Sony release looks typically excellent, and the 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is crisp and sharp throughout. Duffy isn't the flashiest director, but his blue-collar filmmaking doesn't mean the image is any less detailed or impressive. Close-ups reveal stubble, sweat and grime, and wide shots are appropriately deep and sharp. Fine object texture is good, and I noticed no issues with compression artifacts or banding. Colors are well saturated, skin tones are accurate and black crush is minimal.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is punchy, with blasts of surround action and subwoofer rumbles. Dialogue is always crystal clear, whether delivered directionally or from center stage, and is balanced appropriately with music and effects. Ambient effects like crowd noise and traffic frequently find the surrounds, and action effects make good use of the entire field. French and German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks and a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track are also included, as are English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Indonesian, Korea, Thai, Turkish and Portuguese subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This review is for the 2013 Director's Cut Blu-ray edition of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day that is a Best Buy exclusive as of this writing. The discs are packed in an Elite Blu-ray case with reversible artwork, and the matching slipcover is quite striking.
This two-disc set includes the newly created Director's Cut (2:18:01) on the first disc and the Theatrical Cut (1:57:31) on the second disc, which is identical to the 2010 Blu-ray release. I thought the theatrical version ran a little long when I saw it back in 2009, but, despite the addition of over 20 minutes of material, the director's cut is a better film. I haven't seen All Saints Day enough to detail every change, but there are some additional moments that flesh out the characters and improve the film. The opening is extended, are the fantasy sequence with Rocco and the lead-up to the Prudential shoot-out. Those hoping this director's cut would be more violent may be disappointed, as the action doesn't appear to have been extended. Nevertheless, fans will enjoy this new version of the movie, and the Blu-ray set boasts an impressive roster of extras:
DISC ONE (Director's Cut):
- Tribute to Producer Chris Brinker (1:12/HD) - The disc opens with a short, kind tribute to late producer Chris Brinker, who died suddenly this year.
- Commentary with Writer/Director Troy Duffy and actors Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Billy Connolly - This spirited, often profane commentary is enjoyable in small doses. The participants discuss the film, its cult following and a host of other semi-related topics. This is the same commentary found on the theatrical version and, to my knowledge, has not been extended to cover the new material.
- Commentary with Writer/Director Troy Duffy and actor Willem Dafoe - Dafoe doesn't actually join until halfway through the commentary but discusses his character and cameo in All Saints Day upon arrival. This track is decidedly more focused, and Duffy is better able to reveal technical details about the shoot.
- Saints off Script (19:34/HD) - This new featurette covers the filming of All Saints Day. Duffy, who has apparently shifted from the asshole depicted in Overnight to a good-natured commander, reveals that he keeps the atmosphere on set lighthearted and fun to encourage creativity.
- Back to Boondock (20:51/HD) - The filmmakers and cast discuss why they wanted to make a sequel and what they did to satisfy the fans.
DISC TWO (Theatrical Cut):
- Commentary with Writer/Director Troy Duffy and actors Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Billy Connolly
- Commentary with Writer/Director Troy Duffy and actor Willem Dafoe
- Deleted Scenes (2:38/SD) - A couple of deleted scenes are included, and one looks strangely like a cut scene from the first film.
- Unprecedented Access: Behind the Scenes (25:49/HD) - This making-of features lots of unscripted behind-the-scenes footage, uncensored insight into the production and entertaining cast interviews.
- Billy Connolly and Troy Duffy: Unedited (9:22/HD) - The director and actor sit down for a lively conversation about the Boondock phenomenon.
- Inside the Vault: The Weapons (8:28/HD) - The crew reveals what guns were used to stage the elaborate shoot-outs in the film.
- The Cast Confesses: Secrets from the Set (7:13/HD) - The cast provides some jokey anecdotes about the film.
- The Boondock Saints hit Comic-Con (57:02/HD) - The cast sits down for a lengthy Q&A after signing posters for fans.
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is not a particularly good film, but it is an entertaining tribute to the fans who made the first a cult hit. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus return as Irish vigilantes the McManus brothers after they are framed for the murder of a priest. There is plenty of action and humor to be found, but don't expect to like All Saints Day if you hated its predecessor. This new, two-disc Blu-ray set features an extended director's cut of the film that improves the pacing and story and adds several new extras to the already impressive line-up on the original release. Recommended.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.