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Written and directed by Dick Maas in 1988, Amsterdamned follows a Dutch cop named detective Eric Visser (Huub Stapel). He works his life away in Amsterdam where his tough guy persona seems to be a draw for the city's female population. Visser is no angel, he's recently divorced and struggling with being a single dad to his daughter Anneke (Tatum Dagelet), but he is a good cop. When a serial killer starts preying upon the population of his home town, the top brass decide that he's the man for the job, and soon enough he's trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle and figure out who the killer is. The murderer's motif is an interesting one: he prowls the canals of Amsterdam in a scuba outfit, surprising his victims from below the surface of the many canals and waterways that populate the city!
That happens fairly quickly in the film, but as Visser draws ever closer to his target, the bodies begin to pile up. City officials are ramping up pressure to put a stop to this before it has an even bigger negative effect on summer tourism dollars, leaving Visser between a rock and a hard place. Along the way he meets, and falls for, Laura (Monique van de Ven), a gorgeous museum worker. And we all know what happens to pretty girls who get romantically involved with cops chasing serial killers, right?
Much more of a cop thriller with some giallo-esque trappings than the horror picture that it is often marketed as, Amsterdamned is nevertheless a rousing slice of exploitation tinged entertainment. Dick Maas keeps things moving at a breakneck speed but not at the cost of character development or storytelling. The murder scenes are fairly vicious and frequently creative, and the killer that serves as the picture's chief antagonist is memorable not just for his penchant for dive gear, but for his methods and eerie personality as well.
As to the performances, Huub Stapel is a really solid lead. His character is reminiscent of Alain Delon or maybe Jean Paul Belmondo with a touch of Clint Eastwood and a dash of Tomas Milian thrown in to keep things interesting. His character is the typically world weary, grizzled cop you'd expect to lead in a picture like this, he's not the most original onscreen creation you'll ever see, but Stapel plays the part very well and makes for a fine leading man. He also has some great chemistry with the gorgeous Monique van de Ven (who Paul Verhoeven fans will remember appearing alongside Rutger Hauer in Turkish Delight, her 1973 feature film debut). Tatum Dagelet is also quite good here as Visser's mischievous daughter.
Another big part of what makes the movie as well as it does is the location shooting and the stunt work. Placing the film in the middle of the infamous Dutch city gives it a lot of character based purely on the visuals alone and in a way the movie serves as a travelogue of sorts, showing off various landmarks, museums and locals. The film's rather famous speedboat chase sequence, a hallmark of practical stunt work and reason enough on its own to seek the film out, does use some Utrecht locations, but otherwise this was all shot where it pretends to take place.
Add to all of this some impressive cinematography from Marc Felperlaan (who also worked with Maas on The Lift and The Shaft) and a very cool score composed by Maas himself and Amsterdamned shapes up to be well worth checking out for fans of action movies and thrillers alike.The Blu-ray:
Amsterdamned arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground on a 50GB disc framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Taken from a new 2k master approved by Dick Maas himself, the image quality is excellent. The original pressing of this release suffered from some obvious compression issues and macroblocking that clearly hurt things, particularly in the darker sequences. Blue Underground has since reissued a corrected disc that fixes this issue. The compression problems are gone and the new transfer is excellent. The image is clean, almost pristine, but it is free of obvious noise reduction and presents fine grain without problems. The black levels are good, skin tones look fine and color reproduction is nice. Fine detail is typically very strong and frequently very impressive, as is depth and texture.Sound:
Audio options are provided in Dutch DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dutch and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and French Dolby Digital 2.0 options with removable subtitles provided in English, English SDH, and Spanish. If authenticity if your bag, then the Dutch 2.0 mix is the way to go. It offers clean, clear dialogue, nicely balanced levels and a generally very strong listening experience. If you're into remixes, then the 5.1 track will scratch that itch by offering up a wider sound space and spreading out the effects work and the score rather well. Those opposed to foreign language tracks can opt for the English track, which also sounds fine and the inferior lossy French track is there for those who need it as well.Extras:
Supplements are plentiful on this release, starting with an English language commentary track featuring writer/director Dick Maas and editor Hans van Dongen. This is an engaging track with a lot of great information on it covering not only where the story ideas and inspiration for the film came from but also what it was like shooting so much of the picture on location, the difficulties of some of its more impressive action set pieces, working with the cast and crew on the production and quite a bit more.
From there we move on to the first of the featurettes in the form of The Making Of Amsterdamned, a thirty-seven minute Dutch archival piece that explores the making of the film by way of some vintage cast and crew interviews and a whole lot of genuinely interesting behind the scenes footage. Up next is a nine minute interview with actor Huub Stapel entitled Tales From The Canal, also in Dutch, in which he talks up his part in the film, what it was like on set and how it was working with Maas and his other collaborators on the project. From there, stunt coordinator Dickey Beer spends nineteen minutes speaking in English about his work in Damned Stuntwork. Here he speaks in quite a bit of detail about how he got his start doing stunt work, his working relationship with director Maas, what it was like working together on the feature and more. The featurettes that are conducted in Dutch have accompanying English subtitles.
Rounding out the extras on the disc are Dutch and English language theatrical trailers, an Amsterdamned music video directed by Maas, a fairly massive still gallery, animated menus and chapter selection. Also included inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase is a DVD version of the movie with supplements that are identical to those found on the Blu-ray disc and an insert booklet featuring liner notes from Mike Gingold that detail the history of the movie and the events that inspired it. Blue Underground also provide some nice reversible cover art for this release.Final Thoughts:
Amsterdamned is a really solid thriller. It's fast paced, it's slick and it's tense offering up plenty of excitement and some seriously impressive action set pieces. Blue Underground's Blu-ray release offers up some great extras and really solid audio. The corrected disc fixes the compression problems that plagued the first pressing and the picture quality is excellent. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.