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(10th Anniversary Edition)

"The first rule of Fight Club is... you do not talk about Fight Club."
"Second rule of Fight Club... you DO NOT talk about Fight Club."

Well, if I adhere to the first two rules and donít talk about FIGHT CLUB ($35), this will be a very short review, indeed. Actually, over the last decade, FIGHT CLUB is a movie that a whole lot of people have talked about- many singing its praises, while others, out and out condemning it for its violence. Personally, I really like FIGHT CLUB. I think itís a great piece of movie making, although there are some aspects of the story that I really find detestable. However, I am not willing to kill the messenger, just because I did not like the entire content of the message. Right up front, let me say that FIGHT CLUB is a difficult and challenging movie that presents viewers with a glimpse at the evolution of a violent counterculture- something that is both frightening and thought provoking. Problem is, the type of realistic violence this film depicts is not something that the majority of average moviegoers are going to want to think about, let alone see. For the masses, mainstream movies are supposed to be an escape from reality, not a reminder of bad things appearing on the news with alarming frequency.

FIGHT CLUB stars Edward Norton as the Narrator of this disturbing tale. Nortonís character is a white-collar worker who goes through the motions at an insufferably boring job, while living the perfect yuppie lifestyle, which involves accumulating all the right possessions from all the popular catalogs. Unfortunately, while he has all the trappings of an ideal life, the narrator is an insomniac, whose existence is an emotional vacuum. Eventually, the Narrator finds some relief from his insomnia, by attending support group meetings for every imaginable disease and disorder. Somehow, the cathartic, emotional release that these groups inspire allows him to finally get a decent nightís sleep. The Narratorís "cure" proves to be short-lived with the arrival of an interloper at his various support group meetings. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Marla Singer, the ever-present young woman, who makes it impossible for the narrator to achieve any form of emotional release in the presence of another faker. However, the Narratorís is freed from his need for the support groups when he encounters Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), whom he meets on a business flight. Tyler is a cocksure entrepreneur who makes and markets his own line of soap (in addition to various other undertakings), who clicks with our Narrator.

When the Narrator returns home from his business trip, he discovers that a gas explosion has destroyed his condo and every piece of his carefully acquired existence. With nowhere to go, the Narrator pulls Tyler Durdenís business card out of his pocket and gives him a call. The two men get together for a few beers, before heading back to Tylerís place to crash for the evening. After leaving the bar, the two begin a good-natured slugfest in the parking lot that produces one positive side effect. Both men end up feeling invigorated by beating each other senseless- and so Fight Club is born. Soon, there are nightly gatherings of men pounding the crap out of each other and releasing their pent up aggression against a world in which they have no real control. However, what started out as a violent support group quickly evolves under Tylerís enigmatic direction into an army of anarchists determined to make serious changes to the very fabric of our society.

The plot of FIGHT CLUB contains a whole lot more existential subtext, than what Iíve included in this brief plot summary. And even though the film has reached its tenth anniversary, I remain averse to revealing any more about the storyline, as it would rob the uninitiated of all filmís surprises. Director David Fincher is ideally suited to visualizing this type of dark material, as his films SE7EN and ZODIAC certainly bare out. With FIGHT CLUB, Fincher pushes the envelope of filmmaking technique, creating both startling and amazing imagery throughout the movie. The three principals are all perfect in their dysfunctional roles, especially Norton, who has the toughest role to carry off. FIGHT CLUB also features solid supporting performances from Meat Loaf Aday and Jared Leto.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made FIGHT CLUB available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Director David Fincher is not exactly noted for making pretty picture postcard movies, and FIGHT CLUB is no exception to that rule. FIGHT CLUB is a very dark movie; not only in theme, but also in the way it was photographed. However, the 1080p presentation is a marvel that reveals so much more of what the cinematography contained, as well as remaining faithful to the filmís intended look. Image clarity, sharpness, depth, fine detail and texturing are all head and shoulders beyond what one could see on DVD. There is more subtlety, shading and nuance to FIGHT CLUB than what was attainable prior to high definition. Colors never pop, but they still manage to appear well saturated within a fairly cool and dingy looking pallet. Flesh tones that arenít bruised or bleeding tend to look very natural. Blacks are inky, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast has some harsher, manipulated qualities, while shadow detail tends to purposely trail off into an under-lit darkness. The elements from which FIGHT CLUB was transferred appear very clean. The image contains a wonderful grain structure that maintains a highly organic look- kudos for keeping FIGHT CLUB looking like film, instead of over-processed video.

FIGHT CLUB is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. When it was released ten years ago, FIGHT CLUB was notable as it was a movie, in which its sound designer got a prominent credit. Now thanks to the lossless encode, what sounded incredible on DVD, is a whole lot better on Blu-ray. As I said previously, FIGHT CLUB sports a demonstration quality soundtrack that makes aggressive use of the available discrete channels. Sounds leap out from everywhere, including the split surrounds, but the sound field always maintains a cohesive, integrated quality. Quieter scenes are equally impressive, with cohesive, true to life acoustics. FIGHT CLUB features music by The Dust Brothers, which takes full, powerful advantage of the lossless encode. Additionally, the bass is low and deep, certain to give you subwoofer a workout. Warning- please stow the breakables, as the low sonic rumbles of this track will set them a teetering. Dialogue is sharp and completely intelligible, but is not always locked into the center channel. A Spanish DTS 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc, along with an English Dolby Surround track, plus Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, many of which have been ported from the DVD release, but there is also some new content. Starting things off, are four separate running Audio Commentaries that have been included on the Blu-ray Disc. The first commentary is by director David Fincher. The second features David Fincher (again), plus actors Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter. The third commentary is by novelist Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls. Finally, the forth commentary is by production designer Alex McDowell, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, costumer Michael Kaplan, FX supervisor Kevin Haug, and animator Doc Bailey. All four tracks have their merits and fans will find numerous rewards in each. Another viewing option is something called Insomniac Mode: I am Jackís Search Index, which offers access to topics within the movie, a commentary or supplemental program. A Hit In The Ear: Ren Klyce And The Sound Design Of Fight Club gives one insight into how film sound is created and why this movie sounds the way it does. Flogging Fight Club is a ten-minute clip from the Spike TVís 2009 Guys Choice Awards, in which the film received the Guy Movie Hall Of Fame honor.

The DVD supplements have been re-organized and re-categorized into Behind The Scenes, Deleted And Alternate Scenes, Publicity Material and Art Gallery. Behind The Scenes offers up segments on Production, Visual Effects, and On Location. Deleted And Alternate Scenes offers up six sequences. Publicity Material offers up Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, PSAís, a Music Video, Internet Spots, a Promotional Gallery and an Edward Norton Interview. Art Gallery offers up Storyboards, Visual Effects Stills, photos of the Paper Street House, Costumes & Makeup, Pre-Production Paintings and the Brain Ride Map.

Ten years down the line, FIGHT CLUB remains a movie that will not appeal to every taste. However if you like challenging, dark and subversive movies that make you think, then the time has come to check this one out. The Blu-ray presentation is truly outstanding. Very highly recommended.



Fight Club [Blu-ray] (1999)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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