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I had hoped to bring you this review in time for the released date, along with reviews of Pulp Fiction and From Dusk Till Dawn, but unfortunately we only received this film in the end (and then three days after the release date). As such I've decided to dispense with any real criticism of the feature and concentrate on the technical aspects.

Feature


Combining an explosive mix of intense action and edgy humor with a sizzling all-star cast, director Quentin Tarantino ( Pulp Fiction) scores with the entertaining Jackie Brown. What do a sexy stewardess (Pam Grier), a street-tough gun runner (Samuel L. Jackson), a lonely bail bondsman (Robert Forster), a shifty ex-con (Robert De Niro), an earnest federal agent (Michael Keaton) and a stoned-out beach bunny (Bridget Fonda) have in common? They're six players on the trail of a half million dollars in cash! The only questions are... who's going to get played... and who's going to make the big score? (Taken from the Blu-ray synopsis).

Video


Contrary to Lionsgate's claims that this is Jackie Brown's Blu-ray début, it's not. I've personally owned a Dutch Blu-ray for well over a year, and although it's only a 'BD25' it offers a major visual upgrade over the DVD. I assumed that any wider release could only improve upon this effort, but in this case things aren't quite that simple. Let's start with the good though. There can be no denying that the image presented on this disc is dramatically better than any version previously available in the UK;  the BD transfer is far more detailed than any DVD and the ugly compression artefacts that marred the standard-definition versions are nowhere to be seen. The print is also in reasonably good shape, with only a few minor film artefacts on show, none of which are particularly distracting. As mentioned above compression artefacts are never a real problem, nor is DNR, and while some haloing is present edge enhancement is far from ruinous.

On the negative side - and I understand that this probably seems like an incredibly anal thing to complain about - the director-approved transfer looks suspiciously like a lot of other discs that have come out of the Lionsagte stable recently (including Memento, Mimic and Pulp Fiction). What I'm referring to here is the colour palette and the contrast, which have both been tinkered with when compared to previous editions of the film. The colours are more saturated than earlier versions, often looking way too cartoonish for my tastes (particularly the skin tones, which have that orange permatan look), while contrast has been pushed to the point that previously visible detail has been lost to blown highlights and black crush. Now I'm not suggesting that these things alone constitute deal-breakers, but having had the opportunity to compare Lionsgate's Blu-ray to the Dutch RCV effort I would be lying if I said I preferred the boosted levels over the more natural look. Even so, it's a case of swings and roundabouts really. The Dutch BD has more natural, theatrically accurate look, but the Lionsgate disc carries the 'director-approved' tag and has tighter compression.

Audio


While  the revisionist look of the transfer is a slight cause of concern, I have no problems with Jackie Brown's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Like most of Tarantino's films, Jackie Brown is a talky affair with occasional action, so the track is never called upon to do anything particularly dynamic. All I really wanted and expected from this release was strong presentation of the dialogue, the occasional discrete effect, modest LFE and a bit of presence for the wonderful songs, and the track delivers all of those things. The music sounds wonderful blasting out of the front and rear stereo channels, enveloping you in awsome tracks from Bobby Womak, the Brothers Johnson, Minnie Ripperton and others. Each and every piece of music is expertly grafted to characters and situations, and on balance I think this is probably my favourite QT movie from a soundtrack perspective because you really feel each and every cut.

Extras


If memory serves most of the supplemental content on this disc has previously been available on the various DVD versions. The only exception is 'Breaking Down Jackie Brown' (43:50, HD), a roundtable discussion with critics Scott Foundas, Stephanie Zacharek, Andy Klein and Tim Lucas, moderated by Elvis Mitchell. This lengthy piece sees the critics duscuss their fondness for the film, even those who didn't 'get' it the first time around or who didn't go much on Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It's a fairly enjoyable featurette with some interesting opinions about the film, its cast, and its director.

As I mentioned before the bulk of the extras have been available for some time. 'Jackie Brown: How it Went Down' (38:55 SD) is a ten part retrospective featurette containing interviews with Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, author Elmore Leonard, editor Sally Menke, actors Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michel Bowen and Michael Keaton, and prop masters Steve Toyner and Caylah Eddleblute. Among other things topics include the novel, including the differences between it and the film, the cast, and Tarantino's influences. 'A Look Back at Jackie Brown' (54:42 SD) is a lengthy interview with Quentin Tarantino that covers a lot of ground. Recorded in the early part of the last decade it includes a bunch of interesting facts about the film, as well as plenty of the director's trademark rambling about movies that inspired him.

Moving on we come to the 'Chicks with Guns' video (4:52 SD), which is included in its entirety, six deleted/alternate scenes with introduction from Tarantino (15:29 SD), a short excerpt from Siskel and Ebert's review of the film (4:46, SD), an MTV promotional contest video (01:03, SD), a MTV Live  interview segment(14:22 SD), assorted trailers (03:50 SD), a few TV spots (03:56 SD), poster art, still galleries, a trivia track, soundtrack chapters (very useful), twelve vintage Robert Forster trailers (27:46 SD), nineteen vintage Pam Grier trailers (36:21 SD), and seven Pam Grier radio spots.

Overall


I've always considered Jackie Brown to be Tarantino's most mature feature, and although it's not a film that I would choose to watch often I have to say that it's probably my favourite piece of work in the director's oeuvre. It's perfectly paced, expertly shot, and masterfully acted. I would have loved for this Blu-ray to hit a home run, but as things stand I can't help but feel that, claims of Tarantino's approval aside, the transfer is the latest in a lengthening line of Lionsgate titles that all look the same. Of course I'm being hyper-critical here because I'm reviewing the disc, and it's more than likely that the vast majority of people will look at this and say 'fantastic', but I can only bring myself to use the word 'good'. Thankfully the audio doesn't suffer from any noteworthy issues and the accompanying extras are decent, so overall it's a pretty good package. Having said that I'm still glad I held on to my Dutch Blu-ray...

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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