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Taking the conventions of numerous other action/adventure films as a launching point, THE RUNDOWN ($30) proves itself to be a fun movie; one that has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. The plot of THE RUNDOWN seems to be a patchwork of ideas from other films, but what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in its level of good natured fun. In THE RUNDOWN, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson portrays Beck, a bounty hunter with a distaste for guns, and a desire to retire from his present profession and open a restaurant. Billy Walker (William Lucking) offers him his way out… do one last job and he will pay Beck everything he owes, which will be enough to bankroll the restaurant. The job, retrieve Walker’s wayward son Travis (Seann William Scott) from the Amazon and return him to Los Angeles.

Beck tracks Travis to the small South American town of Helldorado, but the retrieval proves to be anything but simple. The town and its single industry is run by Hatcher (Christopher Walken) and his goons, who use their heavy firepower to control the locals and turn them into a cheap source of labor for the gold mine. As for Travis, he is close to finding an ancient golden idol known as the Gato, which would allow the townspeople to buy their freedom from Hatcher if they acquired it. Of course, Hatcher wants Travis the Gato for himself… and has no intention of letting Travis or Beck leave until he gets it. What follows is plenty of action, a mad dash through the jungle, an encounter with rebel guerillas, a treasure hunt for the golden idol and finally a rescue… pretty much the main staple of the action/adventure genre. The cast of THE RUNDOWN also includes Rosario Dawson, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, Ernie Reyes, Jr. and an uncredited cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE RUNDOWN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is very, very good, but does fall a little shy of something one would consider demo material. Image sharpness, depth and fine detail are all very strong performers. Hues tend to be very deep and very vibrant, which suits the jungle location. The flesh tones are sometime a bit too ripe, seeming like they have been out in the tropical sun for a while, but are generally appealing. Blacks are deep, while the whites are crisp and clean. The picture produces smooth contrast and a fairly healthy dose of shadow detail. The film elements appear very clean. Grain is fairly fine and helps create a film like presentation.

THE RUNDOWN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. THE RUNDOWN delivers pretty much what one should expect from an action/adventure movie sound design. Whenever the action kicks in, the soundtrack becomes quite aggressive, with all of the discrete channels engaging for sound effects placement. Gunfire, vehicle sounds and other effects zip around the sound field effortlessly. Jungle sounds and other bits of ambience are also handled reasonably well. Fidelity is also pretty impressive; producing a full bodied musical component, as well as believable special effects. The bass channel track adds plenty of percussion and rumble. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue is always easy to understand. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

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. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with director Peter Berg and star Dwayne Johnson, while the second track features producers Marc Abraham and Kevin Misher. Featurettes totaling a half hour’s running time include: Rumble In The Jungle, The Amazon: Hawaii Style, Running Down The Town, Walken's World, The Rundown Uncensored and Appetite For Destruction. Nine Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Peter Berg close out the standard supplements. THE RUNDOWN is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

THE RUNDOWN is a fun action movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. While not a demo disc, the Blu-ray presentation is still a winner. Recommended to fans.



The Rundown [Blu-ray] (2003)


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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