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September 21, 2010
Kick-Ass Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
8/4/201017/8/2010UniversalMatthew Vaughn
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Aaron Johnson

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Kick-Ass is a vulgar, violent movie - and a masterpiece.

Now this is entertainment... Rarely do I find a movie where upon finishing it I want to go back to the start and just re-watch it again, but this movie made me want to do that. It's just so, well, kick ass. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust), this is a movie which is sure to divide opinion. If you don't like violence or profanities, stay well clear of this movie. So what's it about then?

Average teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to take his obsession with comic books as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. As any good superhero would, he chooses a new name, Kick-Ass, assembles a suit and mask to wear, and gets to work fighting crime. Thereís only one problem Ė Kick- Ass has absolutely no superpowers.

His life is forever changed as he inspires a sub-culture of copy cats, meets up with a pair of crazed vigilantes - an eleven year old sword-wielding dynamo, Hit Girl (ChloŽ Moretz), and her father Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) - and forges a friendship with another fledging superhero, Red Mist (Chris Mintz-Plasse). But thanks to the scheming of a local mob boss Frank DíAmico (Mark Strong), that new alliance will be put to the test.

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Red Mist (Chris Mintz-Plasse) in Kick-Ass.
One thing is certain Kick-Ass isn't a movie for youngsters, with plenty of swearing and violence, which for many will be to the point of excessiveness. The most controversial aspect is simply the fact the most of the killing, and the dropping of the "c" word is done by an 11 year old girl - Hit Girl. Politically correct - no. Fun - hell yes. It's a crack up and as long as the filmmakers and her parents instilled in ChloŽ Moretz that it is not correct to act or speak in that way, well, who gives a shit. It's a brilliant character and one we'll be talking about for years to come.

There are so many hilarious moments in this movie, from the opening moments with the superhero jumping off the building, to the brilliant way Kick-Ass's composers (or at least one of the four who worked on this film) have taken a little inspiration from John Williams' Superman score when Dave puts on the Kick-Ass costume for the first time, the Spider-Man styled preparation to be a superhero, Nic Cage's brilliant impersonation of Adam West's Batman when dressed up as Big Daddy, and the somewhat surprising event after Kick-Ass is injured by two car thieves.

Were you not to know any better you would swear that Quentin Tarantino, a man for whom I have the utmost respect, directed this movie - but while high on a cocktail of LSD and booze. It's amped up to levels of violence and profanity rarely seen in cinema - and that's one reason the big studios wouldn't finance this film - but the director Matthew Vaughn manages to get some brilliant performances from all the actors including the very likable and believable lead in Aaron Johnson and the very young ChloŽ Moretz as Hit Girl. Nicolas Cage too is quite brilliant as Big Daddy with some great, comedic, moments while Mark Strong plays the evil lead quite perfectly too. Finally, it's nice to see Christopher Mintz-Plasse get another decent role after his brilliant break-out role in Superbad.

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Hit-Girl in Kick Ass is a classic character.
I've review hundreds of Blu-Rays over the last couple of years but few movies get close to this one in terms of perfect comedic timing, great action sequences, and just plain-out fun.

It must be said that the video transfer for this film is quite impressive. Universal Pictures have given Kick-Ass a great transfer from the source material which, as expected for a new release, is pristine. The image has been encoded at the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. This is a bright, colourful transfer with plenty of fine detail evident. While it should never be a judge of quality, the bitrate on our PS3 always hovered above 20Mbps, even in the most static scenes.

Are there any issues with this transfer? Well, very few we must say, and certainly nothing that give any cause not to purchase this disc and use it as a reference quality disc. If I was to nitpick then there were occasional moments where black crush was evident and detail in the darker moments seems a little lost. Also, and this is more of a fault of the filmmakers then the transfer to this Blu-Ray disc, colours occasionally seem unnatural with skin tones often taking on an unnatural orange tone.

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Kick-Ass is quite brutal in places.
Kick-Ass is presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track which like the movie is pretty eventful, lively and entertaining with music from bands such as The Prodigy, Gnarls Barkley, Mika and even the King himself, yes, Elvis. Dialogue is clear, surround sound channels get a good working over, and the sub-woofer gets a great workout when the LFE kicks in. If there is a disappointment it's that the American version of this disc, distributed by Lionsgate, includes a 7.1 audio track - something where we are slightly short changed.

The disc also contains a DVS (Descriptive Video Service) audio track encoded with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps which provides a description of the events for the blind. There is only a single English subtitle track but the text is accurate to the dialogue in the movie.

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Nic Cage is hilarious as Big Daddy.
While it doesn't appear loaded at first glance, it's the size and quality of the extras here that stand out. Disappointingly though, we miss out on a couple of extras which appeared on the American Blu-Ray release - that being a BonusView video commentary/behind the scenes track and Promotional Materials which includes trailers. Still, I doubt you'll be disappointed with what is here...

Audio Commentary with Director Matthew Vaughn: Admittedly this isn't the most entertaining of audio commentaries, perhaps a couple more participants could have helped, however Matthew does have some interesting stories about production of this film so fans may want to have a listen.

A New Kind of Super Hero: The Making of Kick-Ass (1:53:02/HD): Running for just a couple of minutes shorter then the film itself this documentary is split up into four parts including "Pushing Boundaries" (13:22), "Let's Shoot This F***er!" (52:06), "Tempting Fate" (9:39) and "All Fired Up!" (37:55). This comprehensive documentary is one of the best we have ever seen with complete coverage of the making of this film from the creation of the comic, to the casting, the filming, and the post production special effects. Rarely do you see a movie studio produce and include something as impressive as this on a Blu-Ray disc so big kudos goes to the discs producers for including this.

It's On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass (20:35/HD): This featurette looks at the Kick-Ass comic book which has become a massive seller since release. A deal for the film was made before the comic even hit shelves, and here we get a little more detail on the comic, with interviews with the comic book makers themselves.

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One of these guys is Kick-Ass!
The Art of Kick-Ass (HD): This section includes dozens of images from the following categories - Storyboards, Costumes, On-Set Photography, Production Design and John Tomita Jr Art for the Film.

WOW! Kick-Ass is one of the best movies we've seen in years. So much violence, some perfect (perhaps sadistic) comedic moments, plenty of swearing and some cool characters makes this a winner. If you're offended easily, skip it, for us though this was sheer brilliance. This is a Blu-Ray disc worthy of every collection.

Review By: Dave Warner


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