Beast Stalker, The (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus learns you should always check the car boot before you start shooting!
Tough cop Sergeant Tong (Nicholas Tse) isn’t having the best of luck. After accidentally killing a young girl in a shootout and then finding out her twin sister has been kidnapped in connection with the court case pending against the bad guy he was trying to convict, he’s struggling to get his confidence back. Now with a trial leading to the girl’s whereabouts and nothing to lose, Sergeant Tong sets out put things right.
With a title like The Beast Stalker, you’d be expecting big things right? Even without any beasts or demons thrown in the mix, you’d at least expect some messed up bad guys to take the reigns as the aforementioned ‘beasts’, right? And as for the word ‘stalker’, you’re expecting at least some bad ass cop working against the system, maybe with a big ass gun or something setting him apart from the usual, right? Well sadly for all the big showboating in that title The Beast Stalker is very, very typical of the crime thriller genre. In fact, it’s so typical it has more in common with a regular TV drama than a big-screen all action extravaganzas.
Opting to keep everything realistic and fairly low key, we follow Tong as he struggles with his accidental shooting of a young girl (which is a real shame because it came after a fairly well executed shooting at a car speeding away—which let’s face it, never works in movies beyond a back window or two getting blown out). We see him dealing with the guilt of the death, the injury of a colleague, a demotion of a family member and of course the grieving mother, who is now on the verge of losing another child because of Tong’s meddling.
Running alongside all this we get to see a glimpse into the life of the kidnapper, Hung (Nick Cheung). The one dead eyed bad guy has a lot more going on under the surface and the slow revealing insights we get into his character make for a compelling villain for Tong to play against and a nicely executed final reveal of his background adds an enjoyable little tie up all of the previous events.
Lastly I can’t really leave this review without mentioning the one big event of the movie. There’s an opening car chase that once again is handled with impressive realism and climaxes in one hell of a well shot car crash. The impact of the two cars hits hard on the senses and the slow motion mixed with interior shots of the passengers is incredibly effective and really something special in a fairly bland movie overall.
Shot with hand held cameras and coming with a very digital look to most of the movie, The Beast Stalker can sometimes feel a little ‘made for TV’ as opposed to a big screen affair. The low key nature is still packed with bright, warm colours and great skin tones but nothing about it really screams quality in either directorial technique or finish.
For a standard definition release the image is fairly sharp and generally impresses in both bright daylight and darker, murkier night scenes. The key shots (such as the car crash) look a whole lot better than the rest of the movie but for the most part this is a solid transfer with minor digital issues ruining the overall effect.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the audio track here but it has to be said that it can sometimes be a little all over the place. Dialogue is sometimes booming and strong (mostly when Tong is shouting at his team) but at other times the dialogue can get a little lost in the mix and I found myself relying on the subtitles to be sure that someone was talking.
The minimal action sequences are adequately effective, with the great use of suspenseful music adding a whole lot of weight to proceeding, sometimes even outdoing the sound effects used in the scenes. As I said the track just about does its job but it’s not that dynamic and speakers are allocated their specific job with very little crossover and not much in the way of really impressing.
This two disc ‘Ultimate Collector’s Edition’ starts with the Trailer (01:28), eight extended and alternate scenes on disc one, as well as twelve ‘also available' trailers for other CineAsia titles.
Disc two gets a lot meatier with a behind the scenes featurette selection, ‘Car Chases’ (08:40), ‘Scaling the Sign’ (6:59), ‘Street Chase’ (04:05), and ‘Little Actors’ (05:19) offering a lot of on-set footage and not much else.
The making of (13:58) is a little slicker with a lot of cast interviews and the usual history of how the movie got made. The interview gallery, which clocks in at about an hour’s worth and split across the three main cast members and the director is more of the same stuff included in the making of and is not really that exciting to be honest.
I thought that The Beast Stalker was okay, but had absolutely nothing memorable or exceptional about it outside of the initial set up revolving around the car chase/crash/accidental shooting. I didn’t really warm to any of the cast and its impact was nothing more than the pretty standard TV crime thriller ilk out there, with the transfer strengthening the comparisons further.
The features included don’t really do much more to make this package more enticing, with really quite typical extras and lots and lots of interviews making it a bit of a struggle as opposed to a draw.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 4th January 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Trailer, Deleted & Alternate Scenes, Making of, Featurettes, Interview
Easter Egg: No
Director: Dante Lam
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Jingchu Zhang, , Nick Cheung
Genre: Crime and Drama
Length: 109 minutes
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