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Vice presents
The Vice Guide to Travel (2006)

"You set off a dirty bomb made of cesium or something—some radioactive material—in New York. It wouldn't kill that many people, maybe it would kill like a couple thousand people. But it would irradiate all of Manhattan, so everyone would have to leave New York, because the chances of getting cancer would increase like 100% day by day. Obviously no one wants to get cancer, so they leave. And you can't come back for like 30 or 40 years, and you can't clean it up, so New York ceases to exist. It's done. Which would kill America."
- Shane Smith

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 26, 2006

Stars: Jesse Pearson, Shane Smith, Spike Jonze, Jake Burghart, Eddy Moretti, Pella Kagerman, Sureesh Alvi, Johnny Knoxville, Derrick Beckles, Trace Crutchfield, David Choe, Gavin McInnes, David Cross
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, drug use, language)
Run Time: 00h:54m:27s
Release Date: October 03, 2006
UPC: 893467001013
Genre: documentary


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

DVD Review

According to their website, Vice magazine eschews normalcy for "a degrading and disgusting lifestyle of sex and drugs and rock and roll and death." It's akin to an extension of gonzo journalism for a new generation, and in The Vice Guide to Travel correspondents are hurled to different corners of the world to seek out and document the strange, the dangerous, and the just plain weird, all in a collection of short films that run about six to seven minutes each.

Some of the adventures have a Jackass-kind of "dare you to" feel to them, like the travel inside Chernobyl to hunt rumored radioactive wild boars or the poking and prodding of a black market arms dealer who allegedly keeps a dirty bomb buried in his mother's garden. But sometimes the best intentions lead in completely different directions, as a segment entitled The Last Dinosaur in the Congo shifts from becoming what starts as a search for a mythical creature to the documenting of Vice journalist David Choe being sidetracked by the lure of pygmy porn and a powerful cup of mind-altering Congo homebrew.

The short length of each segment (the whole disc is less than an hour) means very little dilly-dallying, and during the visit to the world's largest arms market in Pakistan we're in and out in no time, but we've been shown weapons, the manufacturing process, and even some rooftop target practice. It's kind of like caffeine-induced Attention Deficit Disorder travel, all quick, fast, and to the point, even if the point isn't always all that clear.

It's hard not to like the bravura attitude on display here, a mixture of cocky and bold, free of incessant mugging. In covering subjects like the search for the last Aryans of Paraguay, correspondent Derrick Beckles tries to find things like the home of Josef Mengele, but ends up in the home of a pair of suspected cannibal brothers who really put the "creep" in "creepy." Watching these short shorts I didn't necessarily learn a wealth of things, but I did see places and people that aren't going to get coverage anywhere else.

Bring on the weird.

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

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: All of the segments are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, but considering they were shot under an assortment of guerilla-like methods, the quality varies. For example, the Pakistani gun market piece carries pleasing, bright colors, while the Chernobyl segment is far less vivid. As a quirky on-location travelogue, there are no major complaints in the fluctuating caliber of the image quality.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: A very basic and effective Dolby Digital 2.0 mix provides clear narration and voice quality, and there isn't much in the way of directional movement. The use of music pumps up the spread of the soundstage somewhat, with hipsters like Death From Above 1979 sounding deeper and more spatial than the narration.

Nothing dramatic, just very average and presentable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in German, French, Italian, Spanish with remote access
Production Notes
7 Featurette(s)
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The quality of the packaging almost exceeds the content of the DVD, because this slipcased release has a 65-page hardcover book that doubles as a case. Inside are interviews with Vice correspondents about their travels, as well a large amount of photos, all presented with the expected dose of blunt directness.

A set of seven shorts, some extensions of the main features, others entirely unrelated, make up the disc's extras. None of the segments are particularly long, but highlights include the appearance of David Cross and a fairly easy to find easter egg (01m:02s). The extra bits and their associated runtimes are Congo: The White Wizard (01m:29s), Gavin and David Explore China (05m:27s), The Black Lips in Uganda (01m:56s), The World According to Jesco White (03m:44s), Paraguay: The Dream Machine (02m:33s), New Year's Eve in Kabul, Afghanistan (02m:26s), and Bulgaria: The Gypsies of Sofia (01m:27s).

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

This is not your father's travelogue by any means. Dark, twisted, and dangerous is the rule here, with quick looks at some parts of the world that many have never heard of, let alone seen.

Outstanding packaging and an overall sense of globetrotting cockiness make this one very, very enjoyable.

 


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