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January 6, 2010
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
12/11/199830/11/2009UniversalGuy Ritchie
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Jason Flemyng

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Lock, Stock launched Jason Statham's career...

Back in August 1998 a little gangster based movie called Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was released in cinemas in the UK and immediately gained a cult following. With a production budget of only $US1.35 million the movie grossed over $US25 million around the globe (with only $US4 million of that from America). Modest compared to some movies, but enough to get the director, and stars, noticed in Hollywood.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels follows four friends Bacon, Soap, Tom and Eddie as they put up £100,000 to play three card brag but when Eddie loses, and ends up £500,000 in debt which all four have to pay to Big Harry. If they can't pay up, then Harry will be after more then money. How will the four friends pay their debt? Will they survive their ordeal?

Running for 105 minutes this movie seems a lot shorter then that due to the brisk pacing, interesting dialogue and some slick editing and action sequences. The characters are entirely believable as is the entire storyline which will have you guessing. Writing this review in 2010 (yes, some 12 years later) British gangster movies seem to be a regular occurrence at cinemas and on Blu-Ray and to be honest some of the impact of Guy Ritchie's movie seems to be lessened. The violence that seemed extreme over a decade ago is rather tame now.

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...and that of Vinnie Jones too!
One thing that Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels did do is help launch several careers. Besides marrying Madonna (and now divorced) Guy Ritchie has a big directing career with Sherlock Holmes, released December 2009, being his biggest production to date. Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones got their acting starts in this movie while even Sting makes an appearance.

As a gangster movie this isn't the flashiest looking, nor the best written, and certainly not among the greatest of all times - at least not in our books. It is though an interesting movie with interesting characters and a style that impresses and manages to hold your attention for the duration.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is presented on Blu-Ray at 1.85:1 in Blu-Ray's native 1080p resolution using the VC-1 codec. When you look at the image it is extremely grainy in places which is a natural result of filming on 16mm film - which was the case with this film and the budget of only $US1.35 million certainly didn't allow for the most exorbitant post production to add visual effects, clean up the image or colour correct the image.

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Lock, Stock is now on Blu-Ray.
As a result of the filming process there is extremely heavy levels of grain throughout the film and a lack of sharpness, even on close ups. Have a look at the scene from 8:36 around the table. You will notice that the left quarter of the image or so is quite blurry. There are numerous instances of similar source issues throughout the movie. Still, there's not much that can be done with the film to improve the look at Universal have lavished this Blu-Ray release with a bitrate that often hovers over 30Mbps so there's unlikely to be dramatic improvements in any future release, Blu-Ray or beyond.

As with the video the audio on this disc is hampered by the source material. Despite being presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track this isn't a movie to demo your latest audio equipment with the track being very front heavy and dialogue driven. There are moments when the surround sound channels and sub-woofer will be put to use but they are extremely limited.

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In the middle of a hold-up.
Other languages on this disc include French, German and Spanish DTS 5.1 audio tracks encoded at 768kbps. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, Spanish (Latin America), French (Canada), French, German, Spanish and Dutch. We sampled the English track which was accurate to the dialogue on screen with no major issues detected.

Upon starting the disc you are presented with trailers for Public Enemies, A Perfect Getaway and 9. There are only a couple of extras on this disc which is a little disappointing given there was a 2-disc special edition DVD set released in 2007. Anyway this is what we have on this Blu-Ray...

One smoking camera (11:10): This rather interesting featurette looks at filming the movie including using storyboards, but also having the actors ad-lib the dialogue and scenes. There's some discussion of lighting, cutting scenes, changing footage speed, and the way various effects were done with no money.

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Vinnie Jones as Big Chris.
Lock Stock and Two F**king Barrels (1:55): Take all the swear words in the movie, stick them together and you have nearly 2 minutes of footage.

The disc also includes My Scenes (which allows you to bookmark your favourite moments), D-Box motion code if you have a theatre that likes to shake!, and What's New which takes you to Universal's BD-Live Portal.

While I still believe that Guy Ritchie's Snatch is the superior movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels remains a superb, entertaining, well-written movie. From an audio visual standpoint the Blu-Ray is certainly superior to the DVD, but it isn't what you would call a great looking movie.

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.