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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Ultimate Fights From the Movies—Vol. 2 (2002)

"Say hello to my little friend!!"
- Tony Montero (Al Pacino), from the film Scarface

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: April 16, 2002

Stars: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Russell Crowe, Brad Pitt, Liam Neeson
Other Stars: Michelle Yeoh, Wesley Snipes, Al Pacino
Director: Various

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (various levels of violence, clips are rated from PG to R)
Run Time: 04h:00m:00s
Release Date: April 16, 2002
UPC: 025192137426
Genre: compilation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+CC+ A-

DVD Review

I'm sure that someone, somewhere has sat at home and thought about how cool it would be to have a compilation of great action sequences; it's a logical idea, after all. In this second volume of the FlixMix series, anyone who wants a straight dose of fight sequences is in for a treat, because Ultimate Fights is nothing but action clips. There's no filler, no hosts; just the scenes. The only interruption in the presentation is a short "who vs. who" title card before each clip which, admittedly, is pretty cheesy, as is the "Let's get ready to rumble"-style voiceover. It may sound simple, but I'm guessing the idea will turn out to be pretty popular. It's a clever idea and a decent disc, but ultimately, I can't help but feeling just watching a single, very good action film would probably be a better way to spend an evening.

Ultimate Fights 2 includes clips from the following movies:
Rumble in the Bronx
Blade
Fist of Legend (The Americanized version of the Hong Kong/Jet Li remake of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury)
Snatch
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Scarface
Legend of Drunken Master (The Americanized version of Jackie Chan/Lau Kar Leung's Drunken Master 2)
Crossing the Line
Players Club
Gladiator
Timecop
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
They Live
Black Mask
First Blood
The Killer

Tthe compilation is a bit weak in areas. To begin with, only one scene (from Crouching Tiger) is actually widescreened. To me, this seems counterproductive, since the point of viewing this type of material is to see the whole thing. The intense fight sequence between Maximus and Tigris from Gladiator is just a blur of dodging legs and swishing swords. The superb finale of Blade is muddled in pan & scan, and becomes a haze of fast camera sweeps and people jumping around. Simply, the presentation ruins the atmosphere of many of these epic fights.

Another major flaw is that, if you haven't seen some of these movies, a few of the clips are technically spoilers. The clips from Blade, Scarface and Drunken Master 2 represent the end of the movies. Also, some of the choices are questionable. Arguably, the most out of place piece is from The Players Club (which isn't even an action movie) that is just a really brutal, (but intended to be humorous) fight between two jealous women. After watching Jet Li and Jackie Chan do their thing, a clip from Scarface seems way out there as well; and certainly that film, which is the oldest one represented on the disc, doesn't really match the technical levels of the others.

Despite these drawbacks, there's one thing that cannot be disputed: the disc delivers what it promises. That seems to be the most important thing.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect RatioMultiple - None
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the only clip presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio, and as such, the reasonably good quality video here takes a few hits to the overall grade. It has a major impact on the scenes within, and I think it will probably turn off most viewers who are used to seeing many of these films as they currently are on DVD (i.e. widescreened). Regardless, the source quality varies from film to film, but overall, it's a very crisp, clean image. Probably fairing the worst is the Scarface clip, which is pretty blurry and dirty and did not come from the best of masters.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio track is just a slightly expanded version of the collapsed Dolby 2.0 mix. This is, as you might expect, pretty disappointing given the excellent 5.1 mixes of some of the films in this compilation (namely Gladiator and Blade). The mix is primarily stereo with a few minor surround enhancements that typically come from the disc-specific musical score (the tunes between clips). It isn't terrible, but it's very flat and lifeless and would have been much better had each scene been mastered using its original track.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues
16 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Fight Statistics
  2. Ultimate Rumble Techno Mix
  3. Name That Frame Trivia Game
  4. Top 5 Scenes Editor
Extras Review: A number of additional features come with the disc, not the least of which are 2 commentary tracks for the entire disc. The first one features Hong Kong producer/director Tsui Hark discussing his thoughts on each scene. It's not a very elaborate commentary, and Hark is fairly laid back, but his does get a bit more animated when the clip is from one of his own productions (namely Black Mask and The Killer). The second commentary (located by going into the "Fight Card" section of the disc, where statistics for each battle can also be found) is by stuntman/actor James Lew. You may not recognize his name, but trust me, you've seen him in dozens of films as the basic "Asian fighting guy." He appears in one of the clips here (from Timecop) and he, too, shares his thoughts on each scene. Despite being a choreographer and stuntman, his commentary is not all that technical, coming more from a fan point of view; things like "Wow, this is cool!" or "Boy, I love this movie." It's actually pretty neat that Lew gets a time on his own like, this given how many films he's been in and his enormous contribution to American action films.

A third, text-only commentary is presented, called the "FlixMix Trivia" commentary. This consists of trivia pop-up windows that show up throughout the program; stuff like "During this scene, this actor had to jump 50 feet in the air", or something of that nature. A featurette on stuntwork is presented, featuring James Lew and Jean Claude Van-Damme working together. It's not very in-depth, but it gives a look at preparations for any heavily planned fight sequence.

There's more. An alternate version of the entire disc called the "Ultimate Rumble Techno Mix" is presented, using the same clips with an upbeat soundtrack (no dialogue or sound effects) that's somewhat mixed to match the action. It seemed unnecessary to me, but other might enjoy it. There's also a feature that allows you to pick your top 5 scenes (in any order), and then watch them in a loop; a sort of self-edit feature. If you feel like playing a game, there's a "Name That Frame" game where a still frame from a scene is randomly generated and you try to guess which one it is. If you answer correctly, you get a brief glimpse of that scene. Trailers are included for all of the films on the disc, and a biographies of some of the stars. Additionally, there are DVD-ROM features, which I was unable to review, that supposedly contain another trivia games and Windows PC customizations options (sound effects, wallpapers, etc.).

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Ultimate Fights 2 has some flaws, but as a compilation disc, it actually comes across as a reasonable, quality product. The number of extras should also keep fans busy for awhile, and offer some insight into the realm of fighting from people like Tsui Hark and James Lew, who are definitely in a position to comment on it. It's not the best disc I've ever seen, but it is entertaining.

 


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