Octagon, The (UK - BD RB)
Chuck Norris can do a hand stand with both of his hands tied behind his back...
Scott James is a man haunted by memories, eerie flashbacks that plague both his waking and sleeping hours. The first is a childhood memory relating to the intense and rigorous combat training he and his best friend endured under the guidance of a mysterious martial arts master. The second is a far more painful recollection of loss, and one that has turned Scott away from his former life. But when a wealthy heiress convinces him to enter the fray once more, Scott finds himself drawn into an international terrorist organisation consisting of deadly ninjas, at the head of which is a close acquaintance from his past. Now it is up to Scott to confront his worst fears and battle a former adversary in the ultimate ninja showdown. (Taken from the PR.)
Egads! How many film artefacts can one opening sequence contain? The first moments of The Octagon's 1.78:1 widescreen (1080/24p AVC) presentation are littered with specks and scratches, not to mention more than their fair share of telecine wobble. We're talking much worse than anything found in A Force of One here, but thankfully just as I was about to give up hope things improved. There transfer still has more artefacts than Chuck's earlier film, but they do at least remain tolerable after the first five minutes or so. Other than that it's business as usual, which is to say that the image is very reminiscent of A Force of One. The image is surprisingly detailed, with some healthy grain and an unmistakeably 80s colour palette. As with A Force of One skin tones occasionally appear too red, but things look quite natural for the most part. Contrast looks pretty good and shadow detail is better this time around, but I suspect that is due to improved photography as much as anything else. I didn't spot any particularly obvious signs of digital artefacts such as DNR or edge enhancement either, so on the whole this isn't a bad effort considering the source.
Another similarity with A Force of One can be found in the audio menu, where viewers once again have the option of LPCM 2.0 or DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Again the 5.1 track isn't much of a step up from the 2.0 option, with minimal surround activity, but I'd rather it was faithful to the source than stuffed full of incongruous sound effects. Dynamic range is lacking overall, with the kicks, punches and explosions sounding quite hollow by today's standards. Bass is also weak, only really troubling the subwoofer during one or two scenes (and then mainly for the cheesy soundtrack). Thankfully dialogue is a little stronger than the earlier film, although Chuck's frequent (and bizarre) whispered voice-overs are a little muddy. It's another functional affair, but certainly not one to demo your system.
First up we have a commentary track from director Eric Karson, which is thankfully a little more engaging than Paul Aaron's A Force of One effort. There are fewer periods of dead air and Karson goes into a fair bit of detail about the film's central theme of terrorism and the non-linear editing style, but he does have a tendency to narrate on-screen events. This is followed by the featurette 'How American Cinema Changed Hollywood Forever' (27:58 SD), which was also included on A Force of One (see that review for more info). A surprisingly lengthy 'Making of' (39:28 HD) featurette is next. It includes interview footage with various American Cinema employees, director Eric Karson, editor Dann Cahn, composer Richard Halligan and actor Richard Norton, along with clips from the film. Things draw to a close the film's remastered original trailer (01:59 HD) and a TV spot (00:31 SD).
The Octagon is an odd film, insomuch as the trailer makes it look like a far more cohesive and action-packed feature than Norris' previous outing, but the end result is actually more confused, clichéd and poorly acted. The non-linear narrative is ambitious, but unfortunately it doesn't quite come off. Thankfully the fight sequences are better than A Force of One, especially towards the end when chuck goes toe-to-toe with a variety of 'ninja'. Once again this is a solid, if unspectacular, disc with looks that defy the film's humble origins and passable audio and bonus material.
* 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.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 6th August 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, LPCM 2.0 English
Extras: Director’s Commentary, Making of Featurette, How America Changed Hollywood Forever, Trailer, TV Spot
Easter Egg: No
Director: Eric Karson
Cast: Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson, Lee Van Cleef, Art Hindle, Carol Bagdasarian, Tadashi Yamashita, Richard Norton
Length: 104 minutes
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