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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Rundown (2003)

"There are two men in that jungle who are trying to steal from me. I feel like a little boy who has lost his first tooth, put it under his pillow, and is waiting for the Tooth Fairy to come. Only, two evil burglars have crept in my window, and snatched it before she could get here. Do you understand the concept of the Tooth Fairy?"
- Hatcher (Christopher Walken)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: May 05, 2004

Stars: The Rock, Seann William Scott
Other Stars: Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, Ernie Reyes Jr.
Director: Peter Berg

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adventure violence, some crude dialogue
Run Time: 01h:44m:05s
Release Date: March 23, 2004
UPC: 025192329029
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-B+B+ B

DVD Review

Former wrestler Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is clearly being groomed to become the next big action star, but so far two of his vehicles have been something less than remarkable (The Scorpion King, Walking Tall). That might change with the DVD release of The Rundown, a brainlessly fun and noisy action/adventure/buddy flick from Very Bad Things director Peter Berg.

The Rock shows off his chops suitably as a rugged, tough guy hero here, and as if to hammer home the point, aging action icon/governator Arnold Schwarzenegger even makes a blink-and-you-miss-him cameo, passing the torch by telling The Rock to "have fun" just before the opening fight scene. If Ahnuld's giving his blessing, that's good enough for me.

The Rock plays a so-called "retrieval expert" named Beck, who works for an oily crime boss. It seems that Beck wants out of the retrieval business (he yearns to open a restaurant), so he is sent on the old reliable standby, "one final job" in this case a journey to the Amazon to bring back Travis (Seann William Scott), the wayward son of Beck's employer; the problem is that Travis doesn't want to return, because he's on the trail of a priceless artifact known as Gato del Diablo. When he pisses of Cornelius Hatcher (played with wild-eyed zeal by Christopher Walken), the cruel boss of an Amazonian mining company, both Beck and Travis find themselves being pursued not just by the bad guys, but by an army of jungle rebels, led by sultry barkeep Mariana (Rosario Dawson).

All of the predictable components of the action genre are here: Beck and Travis immediately despise each other; characters get pummeled mercilessly but come up with a well-placed wisecrack and nary a bruise; the hero can have 500 men shooting at him and they all miss; fights involve elaborate twirling, spinning, and kicking; explosions are commonplace; and the bad guys have the scowling tenacity of second-rate comic book villains. In short, all of the required bits and pieces are here, and it was unexpectedly pleasing that Peter Berg was able to put them together in such a fun way. The fight choreography is cartoonish and Matrix-like in its disregard for things like the laws of physics, but it still comes across just as enjoyable; he even throws in a lengthy Indiana Jones-style booby-trapped treasure hunt sequence for good measure.

The Rock and Seann William Scott play nicely off each other, and the wacky back-and-forth mutual hatred banter between the two elicits some decent laughs, as does the comic appearance of a humping-to-please monkey. As a lead, The Rock shows himself to be likeable enough, and he certainly has the build to lend a sliver of believability to the pervasive action sequences staged by Berg.

For The Rundown, check your brain at the door and enjoy.

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

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Universal has issued this particular edition of The Rundown in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (a separate fullscreen version is also available). This is a ridiculously bright film—almost to the point of being oversaturated—and is crammed with all sorts of deep greens and golds. Image detail is strong, and the print itself is very clean. A bit of shimmer and ringing in spots, but overall a smart looking transfer.

An all around solid transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is properly aggressive, complimenting the action-heavy tone of the film. There's good use of directional pans, and the rears are used practically nonstop for discrete cues, to great success, as when The Rock hurls a turntable at a poor soul in the opening sequence and it bounces and crashes across the floor, or especially the big gun battle that occurs in the third act. Subs get a workout here, too, and with all of the explosions and gunfire there is quite a bit of rumble to go around. My only beef is that during louder sequences some of the dialogue gets overshadowed or pushed down in the mix.

French and Spanish 2.0 tracks are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Beyond The Mat, Honey, The Skulls III
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
6 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Peter Berg, The Rock, Kevin Misher, Marc Abraham
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras are definitely of the quantity over the quality variety, buttressed by two commentary tracks and six EPK featurettes. I really enjoyed The Rundown, but I wasn't left with gnawing need for an insightful commentary, let alone two.

Director Peter Berg and The Rock handle the first track, and they yuk it up together pretty good, even if their content reiterates the obvious more often than not, in between poking fun at the occasional continuity error. Lightweight and breezy, this track wasn't awful, but it didn't necessarily give me any pertinent info I couldn't have gleaned from the featurettes.

Producers Kevin Misher and Marc Abraham man the second track, and surprisingly they offer the more interesting of the two commentaries, provided you have a burning curiosity about the usual production problems, toning down the monkey humping, and the difficulties of working in Hawaii. Of the two commentaries, I preferred Misher and Abraham, but neither is a required listen.

Then comes the EPK featurettes—six of 'em. Rumble in the Jungle (10m:30s) is the longest, and focuses primarily on The Rock and his desire to do his own stunts, or at least a large number of them. The Amazon, Hawaii Style (05m:23s) tries to be wacky, and features wisecracks from The Rock, Scott, and Berg, but mostly it is about how Hawaii was selected to double as the Amazon. Appetite for Destruction (08m:20s) fixates on the technical hows-and-whys of three of the bigger action sequences, involving explosions, falling water towers and the bull stampede. The Rundown Uncensored (06m:05s) is a silly stab at comedy (it fails miserably), supposedly documenting some kind of torrid affair between The Rock and the humping monkey. Next up is Running Down the Town (04m:05s), a brief look at how the production crew built a South American jungle town outside of Los Angeles, followed by Walken's World (05m:30s), where we get an inside look at how they built and designed the village run by the villainous Hatcher, and Walken throws out a few typically left-field comments.

There are eight Deleted Scenes (13m:50s), most of which are slight variations on existing sequences. There is, however, an alternate ending (setting up the premise of a sequel nicely) and weirdly comic variation of Walken's final scene in the film.
,br>In addition to bios, filmographies, three trailers, and the usual lame link for DVD-ROM extras (wallpaper, screensavers, etc.), the disc is cut into 28 chapters, and includes optional subtitles in English, French, or Spanish.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

This is a fun, dumb, noisy popcorn action/buddy movie filled with well-staged and far-fetched fight sequences, bickering leads, horny monkeys, and a comically over-the-top villain. What more do you need?

Fun stuff, and an easy recommendation for fans of the genre.

 


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