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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
    Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired

    Operation Dumbo Drop

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 104 mins . PG . PAL


    Vietnam, a war that drove many to madness. A terrible, senseless waste of human lives. The horror... the horror. Or, a light and fluffy Disney family movie... take your pick!

    Operation: Dumbo Drop claims to be based on a true story, but I'm sure the vast majority of events and dialogue were dreamed up by a team of Hollywood hacks (for example, I'm sure no soldier EVER said, 'Dang it!'). Ray Liotta stars as Captain TC Doyle, assigned to replace Captain Sam Cahill (Danny Glover) who has been stationed in a strategically important Vietnamese village close to the Ho Chi Minh trail. When the North Vietnamese Army execute the village elephant as punishment for the villagers assisting the Americans, Doyle and Cahill undergo a mission to supply the village with another elephant with the assistance of two green recruits and a provisions officer, David Poole (Denis Leary).

    Disney describe this film as a comedy, but I didn't actually notice any humour when I watched, unless a vomiting elephant counts as humour these days. Maybe I needed to be 11?


    The 2.35:1 Panavision film has been anamorphically-encoded on this disc. Colour is essentially restricted to greens, browns and blues, being that we're in the jungle, but everything looks natural. Detail is very good, and shadow detail is also fine. It appears that MPEG-2 compression is a mastered craft now, because no recent disc I've seen has had any problems with artefacts.

    However, the disc does exhibit more film artefacts than I was expecting, and there are a couple of shots towards the end when the NVA have returned to threaten the village a second time where the picture quality was very degraded. I assume the shots were taken on a different day with overcast conditions, but I would have expected the telecine operator to make some kind of effort to match looks with the rest of the film.

    The disc is dual-layered, and I feel the layer change could have been placed in a better location; as is, it feels a little jarring.


    You know when you watch a film about the Vietnam war that they're going to slug you with a hefty clump of '60s music for no apparent reason except to sell soundtrack albums, and sure 'nuff, here we go again. The soundtrack is solidly recorded, with good deep bass in parts and the occasional aggressive surround effect, but I felt there were a lot of opportunities to be more creative which were missed by the mixers. I spotted several points in the film where side wall imaging could have been used to good effect, but the film generally sticks to subtle envelopment and rarely gives you the 'you are there' feeling.

    One notable exception was during a rainstorm, where my review room was temporarily transported to the jungle, with rain in all channels - very immersive. If only the sound designers had taken a leaf from the excellent Apocalypse Now DD soundtrack to find how dense and detailed a jungle scene could be.

    As a sidenote, the packaging claims the disc has Dolby Surround soundtracks in French and Italian, when in fact the only track is the English 5.1 version.


    What extra features?


    I had some trouble staying with this disc to the end. Although it's not a horrible film, it's so sanitised to achieve a PG rating (there's no onscreen death or blood whatsoever) that adults will have trouble equating this Disney-Nam with the real war, and it's pitched above young kids, who may not be able to read the subtitles for the Vietnamese characters quickly enough.

    A serious try-before-buying proposition, I'd say. Dang it!

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      And I quote...
    - Paul Dossett
      Review Equipment
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    • MPEG Card:
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    • TV:
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    • Video Cables:
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