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April 18, 2008
Commando Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
16/1/19865/3/2008FoxMark L. Lester
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MPEG-2DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Using the rocket launcher, the right way!
The 1980's was a decade for action movies, and action stars. Indeed that decade saw the rise of household names such as Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Harrison Ford, and Bruce Willis, but one man stood above them all - Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie remained the biggest and best throughout the entire decade (and through the next as well!). Not only was he pumping out action movie after action movie, but they were taking big dollars at the box office.

Commando took in just under $US60 million at the box office worldwide (adjusted to today's money that's around $US110 million), but more importantly stands out as the movie that provided more one-liners then any other Arnie movie. For those of you who haven't seen it here's what Commando is all about...

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as retired Colonel John Matrix. The ex-head of a special commando strike team, he's forced back into action when his daughter Jenny (played by a very young Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped. With the help of a feisty stewardess Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), Matrix has only a few hours to overcome his greatest challenge: finding his daughter before she gets killed.

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Arnie's a little tied up...
When Commando was first released in Australia on DVD in 2001 it was presented as an edited version with some 56 seconds of footage cut out including sequences in the "Let of some Steam" fight with Bennett, and the garden shed. Needless to say it was these more violent scenes that made the movie so special in the first place. We are very pleased to report that this Blu-Ray release is the uncut version of the movie so there are no worries there.

So what do I think of the movie now? Well it has been a couple of years since I have seen Commando, and to be brutally honest it hasn't aged too well. In fact, the movie now comes across as quite corny in parts and Rae Dawn Chong, with her squealing and wailing is a lot more annoying then we remembered. Still, as a B-Grade action movie filled with one-liners, explosions, and a engrossingly detailed and complex plot (well two out of three of those!) Commando remains a fun-filled action flick. Let the nostalgia take you away and enjoy this movie for what it is; A fun filled 'popcorn' action movie.

With Commando now 23 years old (if you take the American release date of 1985) we didn't expect this to be a reference quality disc, and it's not. Broken up into 24 chapters the video has been encoded in MPEG-2 at the films original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Given the rather short runtime of just over 90 minutes, it was pleasing to see the bitrate often held over 20Mbps.

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Thanks, I wanted your phone number!
The picture quality though, isn't something to write home about. Sure the 1080p visuals ensure that the presentation is sharper then the DVD release as one would expect, but there is considerable grain and noise, colouring issues and even softness to the image. Film artifacts such as dirt and grain are occasionally present.

It is quite clear that Fox haven't done a great job with this disc - especially when compared to some of their other big releases - which is a shame considering the efforts they put into the recent 2-disc Definitive Edition DVD release last year. Now, having said that, this is still a superior product to the DVD release in many ways, but it simply isn't what we've come to expect from the Blu-Ray format.

As with pretty much every Fox Blu-Ray release the primary audio format is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and thanks to PS3 Firmware 2.30 we can now hear it in all it's glory as the system now decodes the full track to PCM for outputting to your receiver.

We must point out that when Commando went to cinemas it was only released with Dolby Stereo so expecting an aural tour de force - even with DTS-HD Master Audio - is unrealistic and indeed the audio presentation is quite flat for the most part. There is little use of surround sound channels, even during the action sequences and dialogue and effects can be muffled. It has probably never sounded better, but it's certainly not a movie to demonstrate your new high-end audio equipment.

Other audio tracks on this disc include French and German DTS 5.1 at 768kbps. Certainly sounding a little less exciting then the English track these are still fine efforts in their own right from the brief sampling we did. Subtitles are provided in 10 different languages including English for the Hearing Impaired and from what we sampled it was quite accurate to the dialogue on screen.

Sadly this Blu-Ray release of Commando is pretty devoid of extras. As seems to be the case with most Fox Blu-Ray releases this is pretty much a bare bones disc with none of the extras from the 2-disc Definitive DVD release being ported over. Sadly we miss out on gems such as an audio Commentary by Director Mark Lester, deleted scenes, still galleries, and numerous featurettes among others. So what have we been left with? Well here goes...

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That's Arnie at his chaotic best!
Commando Trailer (1:50/HD): A trailer for Commando presented in HD, but with 224kbps Dolby Digital Stereo Sound only. The print is quite dirty in places too.

Other trailers (8:01/HD): Trailers for Alien Vs Predator, Behind Enemy Lines, Phone Booth and Planet of the Apes. Each trailer is presented in High Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 448kbps with all movies now available on the Blu-Ray format.

Commando is a great 1980's action flick that hasn't aged as well as many others of the era. Having said that, there are more quotable one-liners in this movie then any other Arnie's movies, and for that reason alone it's worth checking this out. The video and audio quality were both below expectations (although still vastly superior to DVD), and the lack of extras disappoints considering the efforts Fox went to with the recent 2-disc DVD release. Still, if you're an Arnie, or Commando, fan then this is worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.