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Crocodile Dundee Trilogy, The
Australian cult-hero turned mainstream success Paul Hogan rose to the peak of his stardom with the character "Crocodile" Dundee, an outback individualist featured in two successful late 1980s films, a 2001 reboot, and a 2020 meta-victory lap. The first three movies, Crocodile Dundee, Crocodile Dundee II, and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles are collected in this three disc, relatively extras-free release, which may be perfect for your ‘80s-loving cousin, who needs some sort of gift this holiday season.
From his popular "throw a shrimp on the barbie" Australian Tourism advertisements in the early ‘80s, Paul Hogan spun notoriety into the outback caricature Crocodile Dundee, in this slight and sprightly 1986 fish-out-of-water comedy. Intrepid reporter Sue (Linda Kozlowski) decides she'll gain real journalistic credibility by doing a personality piece on an outback tourist guide who claims to have fought off a crocodile. To the chagrin of her boyfriend (and son of the owner of the newspaper) Richard, she flies down to Australia to interview Dundee, setting up the first fish-out-of-water scenario, and the fulcrum of the movie - will she and Dundee hook up? One couldn't blame her if she fell for the bloke, whose leathery chauvinism has its appeal.
But first, she decides he should join her in New York for more fish-out-of-water antics, where she can really get to know him. The predictable conclusion is preceded by aimless, pleasant vignettes and gags doled out sparingly by today's standards. Hogan is comfortably brash, leavening his super-manly personality with a hint of world-weary ennui, easy to convey as he was in his mid-40s for this film, and Kozlowski does what she needs to convincingly. The crowd-pleasing finale helps Crocodile Dundee send people home smiling from an otherwise lightweight romantic comedy featuring more-or-less unknowns. Used to be you needed star power to sell such simple stories, you didn't use such stories to make stars, as was the case, at least for a while, with Hogan.
Crocodile Dundee II:
Crocodile Dundee was made for about 9 million dollars, grossing 179 million in the US alone, so naturally there was going to be a sequel. Dundee, his mate Walter (John Meillon) and his other mate, Sue (Kozlowski, looking at first like Jean Harlow) are all back for more light-hearted "aren't people crazy?" fish-out-of-water fun. At the start, Dundee is illegally fishing with dynamite in New York Harbor, but he's so charming and beloved the cops let him go. He's adrift, doesn't know what to do with himself as a kept man. There may have been a funny, old-fashioned, madcap romantic comedy in there, too, but as Dundee goes about trying to find a job, and new meaning, we pivot to Sue's ex-husband Bob, an investigative journalist who soon brings a Colombian drug cartel down on Sue's head.
The attempt to trade-in Dundee's macho goofing for crime-drama peril fails, though it does briefly showcase some dumbass The Warriors-style gangland characters and horrible ‘80s hair. And then, wouldn't you know it, they go back to Australia for a lazy, lackadaisical, and overlong chase sequence, where at least Dundee gets to show off how he can out-Aborigine everyone, and (Spoiler Alert!) win the day. After the bad guys are shot dead the movie halts on a freeze frame, sending viewers home angry and confused; an almost 50% drop-off in box-office tells the tale.
Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles:
The less said about Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles the better. Made for about 25 million and released in 2001, both too late to make any sense as far as the franchise was concerned, and too early to make any sense for nostalgia's sake, the movie's domestic gross equaled its production budget. With the typical ‘wonder of nature' didgeridoo-infused credits sequence, the movie opens. We find Dundee back at it with his Never Never Tour Guide business. He's got a new employee named Nugget, who's good for a few jokes before he disappears. Dundee's life-partner Sue (Kozlowski again) takes the family (they have a boy named Mikey) to Los Angeles so she can write about a movie studio. The movie proceeds to meander around aimlessly for almost an hour before revealing a plot-line.
You got it, after almost an hour of painful, low-wattage vignettes, we finally learn that the movie studio is an Evil movie studio, which Dundee infiltrates with the help of Paul Rodriguez. Self-preservation keeps me from writing much more here, other than to say that Dundee's shtick feels really old by this movie, and he's somehow still amused by gay jokes, which appear in each movie. He looks great for a 62-year-old though, and the movie is just amiable enough that you might not feel forced to shut it off as it plays in the background on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The only thing missing is the song "Oh Yeah" by Yello, but you do get a rerecording of "Down Under" by Men At Work instead. I'm ready to be thrown on the barbie.
These movies all look OK for Blu-ray, but not great. I don't believe they are new transfers, so the concerns from the earlier stand-alone releases for the first two movies remain. While at times close-up details look pretty good, there is heavy, unnatural looking film grain at times, dirt on the print occasionally apparent, damage here and there especially in Crocodile Dundee II, and heavy digital noise reduction mucking things up. Details aren't great in darker scenes either. Los Angeles may very well be the same transfer as from the DVD, but it looks fine, if a bit gauzy, which I suspect is intentional. The point is this: these are 3 old movies that didn't get any new treatment. By today's standards, their appearance is somewhat lacking.
Crocodile Dundee gets an English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track, (plus French, Spanish and Portuguese Mono Tracks) while Dundee II and Dundee in Los Angeles are presented in 5.1 mixes; the same mixes present on the original releases. All mixes present dialog in clean and clear fashion, with decent dynamic range for the soundtracks, and (except for the first) adequate attempts at dimensionality. There is nothing really great present in any of these mixes, but nothing to specifically complain about.
Each film comes with an HD Theatrical Trailer, while part II and Los Angeles get BTS Featurettes, 5 and 10 minutes, respectively.
This is one of those releases that screams ‘Gift for your Aunt'. The Crocodile Dundee phenomenon was short-lived and/or mismanaged. The macho Outback caricature was funny, naive, and amiable, but couldn't sustain a movie franchise. As he goes from pond to pond, a fish-out-of-water, the slowly paced jokes (now mostly anachronistic) fall ever more flat. As these are just repackaged old releases, newly-pressed and gathered in one keep-case, you can probably Skip It. OK some of you might want to Rent It for your nostalgia hit, but it's certainly OK to be surfing the web on your phone during the two sequels.