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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Certain Fury (Blu-ray)
Certain Fury (Blu-ray)
Kino // R // March 14, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Tyler Foster | posted April 10, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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The cover of the new Certain Fury Blu-ray by Kino Lorber promises two wildly different movies. The cover that faces outward at first suggests a trashy '80s thriller, with a painted image of stars Tatum O'Neal and Irene Cara running from a line of cop cars, handcuffs still dangling from O'Neal's wrist, the women's cleavage prominently highlighted. The title is stylized with a cursive "Certain" over a bold red "Fury" in gigantic block letters. Open the case, however, and one is greeted by another cover on the reverse of the Blu-ray sleeve. This one evokes Streets of Fire, down to the stylized black-and-white photographs of the leads, which appear at the bottom of a larger picture of the pair in soft focus, looking quietly off into the distance. Without having seen the film, the disparity between the two is almost nonsensical. Afterward, what's funny is that Certain Fury is neither of these movies -- and not very good, either.

O'Neal and Cara play Scarlet and Tracy, two young women who are arrested for...well, something, and have been lead into a courtroom to stand before a judge when two of the young women in front of them in line slit the throat of the courtroom officer, steal his gun, and start a shooting rampage that leaves multiple people dead or wounded (a character claims the death toll is seven, but it feels more like 17). In the middle of the chaos, Scarlet and Tracy flee the courthouse, and the police follow, leading the pair to be branded accomplices in the massacre. As the shooters took down a number of police officers in their rampage, the cops trying to track them down are thirsty for revenge, giving the two women little hope that turning themselves in will turn out well for either of them.

The most remarkable thing about Certain Fury is how hard it works against its own premise. Scarlet is an angry, bitter, impulsive person dealing with a long list of previous, vague run-ins with the law. Tracy seems like a nice girl, possibly a runaway, who is fixated on her own innocence, and more than willing to turn herself in. They hate each other initially and remain antagonistic for maybe 65 minutes of the film's short 87-minute running time. Although the characters explain their motivation for running from the cops, the cops are hardly a presence in the film beyond being victims in the movie's ridiculously bloody opening sequence. The closest thing the film offers to a police officer character is Lt. Speier (George Murdock), a kindly old man who spends most of the film expressing a level of sympathy toward Tracy's father, Dr. Lewis Freeman (Moses Gunn) -- he's not exactly shaking with uncontrollable rage. Actually, the only characters that really pose any threat to Scarlet and Tracy are characters that Scarlet brings into their situation, including her rapey drug dealer boyfriend Sniffer (Nicholas Campbell), and a richer second boyfriend, Rodney (Peter Fonda).

Between director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Michael Jacobs, something is fundamentally wrong with Certain Fury's story and plotting, as most of the characters' motivation and key details of the story are muddled beyond recognition. As far as I can tell, the only engine driving Certain Fury forward is necessity. if the story doesn't progress, then Certain Fury would cease to be a movie, so things just happen. When Scarlet's dislike of Tracy turns to racism, they continue to stick together because that's what the movie is about. Tracy's father is around and seems distraught because without him, there would be no character to explain backstory about Tracy's mother. Rodney rejects Scarlet's plea for help because if he accepted it, Scarlet would have the means to escape, and then immediately after she disappears, he decides to help capture her, because the movie needs antagonistic henchmen to blow up a building later. Sniffer is the most arbitrary of all, yelling Scarlet out of his apartment but allowing Tracy to stay; inexplicably going psycho and murdering someone instead of chasing Scarlet at a crucial moment; and drugging Tracy to set up Scarlet's moment of redemption.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so maybe that's an explanation for Certain Fury possibly having a cult following. According to the audio commentary, the film has been unavailable on US home video for some time, so fans may be pleased to once again get their hands on this obscure thriller. Another factor may be the film's leads, both Academy Award winners. Unfortunately, they may discover their memories of the film are better than the reality. O'Neal has little to do but pout, and the movie makes the final, bizarre decision to throw a bit more of her character's racism into what is supposedly a climactic dramatic moment about Scarlet and Tracy's newfound friendship, which just makes one feel bad for Cara for having to endure material like this. Certain Fury is an unforgivably messy, incoherent, mean-spirited thriller with nothing on its mind.

The Blu-ray
As mentioned above, Kino has given Certain Fury reversible cover art featuring the painted "trash thriller" poster on one side and the more reserved "gritty injustice drama" poster on the other. The one-disc release comes in a Viva Elite Blu-ray case, and there is no insert.

The Video and Audio
Although it seems Kino did not do the new transfer themselves, there is a note on the packaging suggesting Certain Fury got a recent HD upgrade. The 1.85:1 1080p AVC image looks decent, with a visible grain structure, relatively vivid colors in daytime sequences, and a good amount of fine detail. There is some print damage, and it seems clear that this is not a 2017, 2015, even 2010-era HD transfer, as it has the overall appearance of something done, perhaps, for an HDTV broadcast, but it's certainly satisfactory. Sound is a mediocre DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that does what it can but has a noticeable blandness during the opening courtroom shootout, and never really offers the richness or crispness that one likely wants from lossless audio. No subtitles or captions are included.

The Extras
There is one extra, an audio commentary by film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Greer. Thompson and Greer like the film far more than I did, although that appreciation seems oddly vague -- they can't remember things that happened only a few minutes earlier, have only so much information about the making of the film, and often seem to give the film a pass on its flaws because those flaws are supposedly charming.

An original theatrical trailer for Certain Fury is also included.

The title and both incongruous posters for Certain Fury suggest a battle for justice, some sort of struggle by both women, working together, to clear their names. Instead, Certain Fury hardly makes any sense at all, filled with detours and nonsensical plot developments that quickly sap the viewer of emotional investment or even surface-level interest. Fans of the film will be pleased to know the HD upgrade looks pretty good, but everyone else should skip it.

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