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September 18, 2007
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
10/11/20056/12/2006Warner BrothersShane Black
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MPEG-2DD5.1 640kbpsMA15+Robert Downey Jr

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Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr...
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is essentially a crime thriller based upon the novel 'Bodies are Where You Find Them' by Brett Halliday, with the screenplay written by Shane Black. Does that name sound familiar to you? Well you may remember Shane Black as Hawkins from Predator, or indeed know him as the screenwriter of the Lethal Weapon movies and The Long Kiss Goodnight. This time though he has also directed the movie, and to be honest he's done a fine job of blending several genres together, and also getting fine performances from Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer. So what's it all about...

Harry Lockhart (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is basically a decent guy. Sure, he's a petty thief who skates through life on a shaky cocktail of dog-eared charm and cockeyed optimism, but he wants to do the right thing. He just doesn't know how, exactly. Harry's perpetual bad luck takes a turn for the better when he and his partner are doing some after-hours Christmas "shopping" at a New York City toy store and the security alarm breaks up the party. (Yeah, it sounds like trouble, but keep reading.) In making his frantic getaway from the cops, Harry inadvertently stumbles into an audition for a Hollywood detective movie, and faster than you can say Jack Robinson, the producer flies him to Los Angeles for a screen test.

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Now listen to me, you must see this movie.
Thrust into the cutthroat world of L.A.'s pros, cons, losers and wannabes, Harry is teamed with tough-guy private eye Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer), aka "Gay Perry" to prepare him for his screen test. Gay Perry is ruthless, relentlessly tough and - you guessed it - gay. He also has little patience for Harry, who tries out his acting skills by passing himself off as a detective.

It seems like nothing short of destiny when the thief trying to be an actor impersonating a detective crosses paths with Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), an aspiring actress who needs his help. When the mysterious suicide of Harmony's sister intersects with a seemingly unrelated case that Harry and Gay Perry are investigating, they suddenly find themselves embroiled in a real-life murder mystery. Bodies surface and re-surface... long-buried family secrets erupt in present-day mayhem... and what began as a free trip to L.A. may result in Harry's one-way ticket to the city morgue.

You never know what you're getting when you walk into movies such as this. I recall seeing this in the cinemas and was impressed, having watched it twice more on Blu-Ray my appreciation for the movie is only growing. It's well put together, the acting is quite superb with a solid rapport between Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr, some superb locations (especially given the budget) and a few twists and turns to keep you going. The humour in the movie is superbly done. Take this as an example...

    "Look up idiot in the dictionary. You know what you'll find?"
    "A picture of me? "
    "No! The definition of idiot. Which you fucking are!"
It's classic stuff... How about this one...
    "This isn't good cop, bad cop. This is fag and New Yorker."

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has quite a bit of swearing, a bit of violence and, well, a few gay jokes. Having said that I don't think you'll find anything too offensive. The movie runs at a fair pace throughout and will keep you entertained during the 103 minute runtime. If you like action/comedy type movies (and certainly Shane Black's Lethal Weapon movies wouldn't be an unfair comparison) then this movie is well worth checking out.

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Michelle Monaghan is damn hot!
Technically this disc is pretty impressive - especially when you realise this was also one of the first releases on the format having hit the shelves in December 2006. Using MPEG-2 compression the first thing that hits you is the vibrancy of the colours in the movie. The colours are rich with some fantastic lighting and effects used throughout the movie. What really surprised me was the low bitrate with the movie constantly hovering between 15-20Mbps even in the busier scenes.

Having said that there were a couple of scenes that lacked sharpness and detail. Take the scene where Harry and Perry are walking out of the party between 16:19 - 16:27 to see what I mean. The image is extremely soft. There are a couple of other scenes with grain evident although it is only minor.

Audio on this disc is provided through a fairly solid Dolby Digital 5.1 presented at 640kbps. For such a low budget film I was pretty impressed by both the quality of the sound, and also the use of surround sound. The speech is always clear and easy to understand even during the busier scenes and while the music is fairly restrained it is used to good effect. There is also fairly aggressive use of directional sound in some scenes in the movie.

This Blu-Ray disc also includes French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 640kbps - each is quite good in quality.

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That's not just a rug they're carrying.
For a movie which performed so poorly at the box office I didn't expect anything much at all in terms of extras, but I was wrong. There's not a lot here admittedly but the main feature, the audio commentary, is well worth a listen.

Audio Commentary by Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Shane Black:

    Certainly the meat of this disc is the audio commentary by the two stars and writer/director. There's quite a bit of information discussed about the production of the movie, and even other stories not so relevant to it. I actually found this to be quite an interesting listen.

Gag Reel (4:19):

    Presented in Standard Definition this is an all-too-brief series of outtakes and gags. N

Theatrical Trailer (2:16):

    Presented in Standard Definition with 192kbps 2 channel Dolby Digital audio this is, well, a trailer for the movie. It's not a bad trailer actually, and should have sold the movie a little better to cinema goers.

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OK, now this is getting plain weird!
As another of Warner Brothers earlier releases this isn't a disc that skimps on quality. The video and audio transfers are, while not perfect, very good and certainly give the movie a polish far above the reported $US15 million production budget. The disc also carries a couple of extras worth checking out however it's the solid storyline that should have you engrossed from start to finish. This is yet another 'cheaper' Blu-Ray release with a current retail price of only $AU29.95 - and much cheaper if you actually shop around.

Review By: Dave Warner


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