Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 8/4/99



Van Damage!

reviews by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Jean-Claude Van Damme on DVD





Street Fighter: Collector's Edition
Street Fighter: Collector's Edition
1994 (1998) - Universal

Film Rating: F+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/A

Specs and Features:

102 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with director Steven De Souza, photo gallery, storyboards, teaser and theatrical trailers, TV spots, "making of" featurette, deleted scenes, cast and crew bios, production notes, web access, extended video sequences, video game sequences, publicity and ad campaign materials, film-themed menu screens, scene access (40 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) & French (DD 3.0), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Close Captioned




Timecop
Timecop
1994 (1998) - Universal

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/B/C

Specs and Features:

99 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, production notes, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) & French (DD 3.0), subtitles: English & Spanish, Close Captioned




Hard Target

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Hard Target
1993 (1998) - Universal

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/F

Specs and Features:

97 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, production notes, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) & French (DD 3.0), subtitles: English & Spanish, Close Captioned


Street Fighter: Collector's Edition

I don't know if I can review this flick. I truly hate Street Fighter, so I almost don't see the point. I really hate that this was Raul Julia's last film, and I think the whole thing isn't worth anybody's time. Oh, well... someone out there must like this film. Why else would there be a full-blown special edition?

Street Fighter is based on the Japanese arcade game that was so much like Mortal Kombat (although which came first, I don't care to know). Movie-wise, all I know is, Street Fighter (the movie) is Mortal Kombat (the movie) for kids. Van Damme plays Colonel Guile, a winking, nudging superhero/anti-terrorist dressed in blue. He is the leader of a team out to thwart the evil plans of M. Bison (oh, for the love of Raul Julia, why?). Bison is creating an army of supermen, who will take over the world and instate Bison as its leader. In between, there are a bunch of cartoon characters that fight each other, and use special moves. I will give Steven De Souza some points for turning a straight fighting game into a movie with a plot. My only question is, why would he want to? I mean aside from money. I hate the movie - that's my review.

Okay, so on to the disc. It's a great transfer, damn Universal. It's not anamorphic, but that didn't bother the quality of the transfer one bit. If this were 16x9, it would get an "A+". The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is equally good. The special edition material is pretty jammed. Buried in the featurette section, you will find everything (actually more than everything) you ever wanted to know about this flick. There are photos, storyboards, promo material - all sorts of crap. As special editions go, it's really good - but again, why? Couldn't this money and time be spent on a better film? Street Fighter is basically the best looking of all the Universal Van Damme flicks, and is easily the worst film of his career. And that's saying a lot isn't it?

Timecop

When I think about Timecop, I have really mixed feelings. As it is, Timecop is a pretty decent flick, but it had so many opportunities to be the all-time best Van Damme film ever, and it didn't capitalize on any of them. My question is, "Why?" This is one of the two film pairings Van Damme has done with the talented director, Peter Hyams (the other was Sudden Death). Mia Sara is in this (what happened to her?), and it's based on a pretty cool comic book. Behind the scenes, are cult filmmaker (and a superstar in his own right) Sam Raimi, and the original comic book writer (who worked on the script). That should be everything you need for a kick ass film right there. So why the hell didn't this flick just emote that cool factor? I have an idea -- it's because Timecop is just not as funny as it could or should have been. Think about it. Raimi understands humor -- Evil Dead and his Hercules TV series are both steeped in humor. Yet Time Cop takes itself way too seriously. There are some funny moments, but they just don't help make the film work.

Timecop follows a futuristic police officer (played by Van Damme) who, with the advent of time travelling technology, goes back and forth trying to keep people from profiting from that technology, and screwing history up in the process. A plotline comes up involving a ruthless politician (Ron Silver) trying to become president by any means necessary, including killing goody-two-shoes Van Damme and his wife (Sara). Of course, you don't mess with the Muscles from Brussels...

Timecop is full of neat effects, it has a coherent plot, and there are some good dialogue exchanges. But it should have been more humorous, as I pointed out above. That would have made it a little more accessible, and more tongue-in-cheek. I like the movie, but I see its missed potential as well.

Again, Universal flubs an interesting flick on DVD, by giving us a full frame transfer only, instead of anamorphic widescreen. Why is this full frame? Much like Sudden Death, it's a very clean transfer, but at full frame, the grain becomes so much more apparent. The sound is solid, but the extras include only a trailer, and some notes and bios.

I will again state that Universal should go back and give us a new transfer of this film, and some others in their library as well. Maybe they do plan on doing that sometime. But if they don't, let this be a letter for them to act on. DVD has too much opportunity, at least in presentation, to be wasted. And all movies should be presented as they were originally shot. Even JCVD deserves that.

Hard Target

Oh, yeah! Remember what I said in the review for Double Team, about Van Damme's inability to star in an original story? Well, welcome to Van Damme's version of The Most Dangerous Game. Van Damme appears here as a homeless vet, who is caught up in an evil mercenary's plan to help rich sportsmen hunt down the most illegal prey possible -- other men. Using the homeless as their targets, the hunters give their prey a chance to get away, but the result is usually the same. Van Damme is eventually sucked into this whole mess, and he gives the hunters a little more of a challenge. You see, when you mess with the best... well, you know.

This is probably the all-time best Van Damme flick, most likely due to the participation of John Woo, who made his American debut with this block of cheese. The flick is stupid, it has some corny stunts, and most of the dialogue is as insipid as can be. But boy... does it ever all come together in a cool way. I like Hard Target, but I'm a director whore -- I like everything Woo's done, so I'm the last person you should ask if you want an objective opinion here. Personally, I think it's pretty good, and so do a whole helluva lot of other people out there. It's one of my favorite action films, and that's saying a lot, given that I generally don't like Van Damme.

I was a little disappointed by this disc though. DVD provides a good opportunity to present uncut versions of films (or at least the deleted scenes). Due to the graphic nature of Woo's technique, reels and reels of footage were lost. Why isn't it here on the DVD? I'm baffled, especially when I can walk into any comic convention, at any time of the year, at any location in the US, and walk out with the director's cut on bootleg VHS. Universal, you missed a shot at keeping another movie out of pirate's hands here. This disc is also a bit disappointing in terms of quality. Even though it's 16x9 anamorphic, the video is still a bit noisy with grain. It's still pretty good, but it's definitely not one of the best looking Van Damme films on DVD. The sound is great, but because of the lack of real extras, I was a bit miffed.

I want to see a special edition of THIS film, before any of the other Van Damme flicks get such treatment. Based on the Woo factor alone, I'm simply amazed that there isn't an SE of this on DVD yet. Wake up Universal -- you've got a Mallrats-style opportunity with this flick.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


Jean-Claude Van Damme on DVD

Street Fighter: Collector's Edition


Timecop


Hard Target


E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com