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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 21, 2000 | E-mail the Author
In Short: Decent early 1999 action film gets an outstanding Special Edition presentation on DVD from New Line cinema.

The film:

A police drama starring Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Whalberg, "The Corruptor" stars Hong Kong action film legend Yun-Fat as Nick Chen, a tough, streetwise cop in Chinatown. Danny(Whalberg) comes into the precinct and soon, the two of them become uneasy partners.

Soon, the two find themselves going underground into the criminal element, uncovering various forms of corruption going on throughout Chinatown. When a crime wave begins to sweep through the city, it's up to the two of them to stop the violence.

The film unfortunately lacks the energy to really get the audience involved. There's certainly a lot of action going on in this film, but there's not a vivid enough visual style to bring much energy to the proceedings and although it's not exactly a quiet film by any means, it certainly begins to feel routine after a while. It's really a few things that were brought together into this picture that cause it to not quite work. There's certainly nothing wrong with Chow Yun-Fat. He's an excellent, intense actor and he's quite good in the role. Whalberg doesn't quite work as an action hero and the character is fairly bland. Director James Foley doesn't quite present the material in the right way, either. The director of "Glengarry Glen Ross" does bring the film forward with sort of a cold visual style that is interesting, but at the same time, there's just a lack of intensity that could have made the film a little stronger.

The level of violence in the picture becomes a little disturbing as well(and there were already edits in the violence to bring the picture's rating to an R from a NC-17.). "The Corruptor" is a loud, agressive movie, but under all that noise is really nothing audiences haven't seen before.

The DVD VIDEO: One of New Line's best works, this is an outstanding 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. This is an absolutely crystal clear image consistently throughout the film, with colors that are not only well-saturated, but really quite electric and impressive. Colors are simply presented fantastically throughout, especially the neon colors of the city streets. Detail is also quite impressive throughout the presentation.

Shadow detail and black level are also quite good. There really isn't anything wrong with this image- there are no instances of anything in the way of pixelization or shimmering and the print used is absolutely clean of any scratches or other such problems.

SOUND: Excellent and enveloping "action-movie" soundtrack, with gunfire from all around the sound field during the major action sequences. The score/music sounds excellent, filling the room and sounding very dynamic. There's certainly a lot of bass as well as some effective surround use throughout. Dialogue sounds clear, but doesn't always sound well-integrated.

MENUS: Absolutely wild menus that rank up with some of the best menus out there, such as the "Ghostbusters" DVD menus. These are really cool to play around with- the menus consist of clips from the film and other cool animated scenes that are incorporated into the interactive menus. Super cool and I believe done by the same people who worked on the menus for New Line's "Blade".


Commentary(not one, but two): Certainly an interesting commentary by director James Foley, who talks often and intensely throughout the film, talking about the details that went into the production and details about the realities of what the characters are doing in the film. Also discussed are the film's visual style and the sort of concepts that went into the making of these characters and how they interact. Also interesting is talks about what had to be cut to recieve an R rating. Foley also talks about the way that the film went back and forth between nearly total silence and chaos in the soundtrack, playing with unnatural levels. The rest of the commentary is Foley commenting on the details of the story as they unfold onscreen. I think this is certainly an enjoyable commentary and I found Foley's comments not only entertaining but informative. What really shocked me was after listening to the first commentary and spending some time looking around the disc's other features, I found the commentary index and there's not only one, but two commentaries with Foley. The second one isn't full-length, but I found it just as interesting: Foley talks less really about the film and a little more about the film business in general and how he works.

Isolated Score Isolated score with commentary by Coen Brothers composer Carter Burwell during the "non-music" scenes. The music cues even have their own special menu, where you can jump to a certain cue.

"From The Underground Up": The making of "The Corruptor" is certainly one of the stronger "making of" presentations that I've seen on DVD, with not only interviews with the cast and crew of the picture, but there's certainly a lot more here, with behind-the-scenes footage being only a part of the overall 30 minute presentation here. The interviews are definitely informative with thoughts from not only the actors, but the crew involved in the making of the picture as well. I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes footage, placing the viewer in the middle of a few scenes as they are filmed. There's also another part of this documentary that not only shows the unedited, unrated car chase but takes us into the making of the film's trailer. The last part is really the coolest and I think it's really quite wonderful that a DVD can not only give us the insights of the production team and a full commentary from the director, but take us on a tour of how this film was marketed. Not only do we get the original first concept of the trailer, but other concepts for the marketing materials. And of course, the final trailer is included elsewhere on the DVD. Excellent.

Also: The trailer, cool case, production notes and cast/crew bios.

Final Thoughts: I really didn't care for the film that much, but again, this is an example of a really impressive New Line DVD presentation that really takes fantastic advantage of all of the things that DVD is capable of doing. There's a lot of excellent extras here and those who did enjoy this picture will find quite a bit to enjoy and even though I may not have cared for the film that much, I certainly found all of the extras(especially Foley's additional commentary as well as the "making-of" documentary) very informative. Audio and video quality is an example of New Line's excellent work as well.

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