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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    French, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - by Director Joel Schumacher
  • Featurette
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • 2 TV spot

Tigerland

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 97 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

We all know what Joel Schumacher did to the two most recent Batman live action films. Many people put Schumacher in the “never-see-a-film-directed-by-this-man-again” box, and it was pretty much a justified decision. I was one of them. But being such a big fan of war films, and reading some of the reviews of Tigerland when it was released, I decided to trundle down to the cinema to have a look-see. I went in with quite low expectations, and came out very pleasantly surprised.

I suppose this is technically a war film, but not in the strictest sense of the genre. For example, there is no enemy engagement. No one dies. The majority of the film is set Stateside. Colin Farrell plays Bozz, a very headstrong and rebellious army recruit. He and a group of other young men are being trained for a tour in Vietnam at Fort Polk, reputed to be one of the toughest military camps in the U.S. He is definitely the odd one out with his flagrant disregard for authority and is treated harshly by the drill instructors.

"Courage is when you're the only guy who knows how shit-scared you really are."

Bozz never pretends to be anything that he isn’t, and as such he becomes quite popular with the other recruits. Some parts of this film are reminiscent of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in as much as an individual joins a group of people and changes many of their lives forever. Eventually the recruits are sent to Tigerland, a training camp in a U.S. controlled province in Vietnam. It is apparently the second closest thing to Hell on Earth.

I know I’ve said this before, but I think I’ll say it again – Colin Farrell is going to be the next big thing in Hollywood. The performance he gives in Tigerland is masterful, he really nails the part and is 100% convincing. He has a tough exterior, but at times (particularly the potato peeling scene) we get a glimpse into his softer side. He is a true humanitarian – when a training instructor tells the recruits how to electrocute the testicles of a Vietcong when interrogating them, Bozz walks away in disgust saying “Why would I want to do that to another human being?”

Clifton Collins Jr. is another who I am quite impressed with. Though not up to Farrell’s standard, he gives a sterling performance as Miter, another Private who is in Farrell’s squad. He hasn’t really done much since this, but it would be great to see him go on to big things. Matthew Davis is convincing as Bozz’s friend, Paxton. Shea Whigham is very good as the sadistic and slightly insane Private Wilson. This has been his only major role in the film industry so far and it is a good one.

Schumacher and Farrell are teaming up again for Phone Booth, which looks fantastic. It should be released in Australia in mid 2003. Check it out.

  Video
Contract

The video transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. There is a lot to like about this transfer. Much of the film was shot using 16mm hand held cameras, and as a result the audience is given a feeling of almost being in the scene.

Due to the filming techniques, there is persistent grain throughout the movie. This does not detract in any way though – this was the intent of the director. It truly adds to the rough and harsh tone of the film. Sharpness varies (again not the fault of the transfer), with the more emotional scenes having a more soft quality to them and the battle training scenes having a very detailed and gritty look.

The colour palette is muted for the vast majority of the film, with drab browns and greens the order of the day. This technique is obviously used (and with good success) to give Tigerland a depressing and hopeless feel. Flesh tones are right on the money. Shadow detail is accurate also. Film artefacts pop up now and again with the vast majority again not the fault of the transfer.

The disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 57:33. It is rather noticeable as it disrupts a piece of the musical score, but in general is not terribly intrusive. There are plenty of subtitles available, and the English set is quite accurate.

  Audio
Contract

This is a very good audio transfer that suits the film exceedingly well. There are two soundtracks available: English and French, both presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Even though this is a movie dealing with the topic of war, Tigerland is predominantly a dialogue driven film. Having said that however, the sonics provided for the action sequences in the film are very satisfactorily produced. Whilst the front speakers do the bulk of the work, the surrounds are employed quite often to support the score and the combat training sequences. The subwoofer is used skilfully and really delivers a punch when it is called for.

The dialogue is easy to understand at all times, and there is no distortion at any stage. Audio synch is not an issue.

The original score is set by Nathan Larson, and he does a fantastic job. He hasn’t composed the music for a large number of films yet, but two of his credits include Boys Don’t Cry and Storytelling. There is a distinctly Asian feel to the score, particularly when the recruits are training in Vietnam. Lots of traditional drum beats permeate through the pieces and truly add to the impact of the film.

  Extras
Contract

There is a fair set of extras available with this release, but nowhere near what you would call comprehensive.

Audio Commentary: Presented by director Joel Schumacher, there are very few blank spots in this screen specific commentary. Schumacher goes into interesting details about the creative side of the production and the choices he made to try and make impact where it was required. He also dishes out plenty of information on the story, cast and problems they had to overcome when filming. Quite an interesting commentary and well worth listening to.

Featurette: A very short featurette that runs for just over four minutes. It briefly goes behind the scenes and there are some rather short interviews with cast and crew. Presented in full frame video and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Casting Session With Colin Farrell: Four short casting sessions with Colin Farrell are available. Worth having a look at, but nothing really amazing. The video and audio of these clips is rather poor.

Theatrical Trailer: Presented in full frame video and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

TV Spots:- Two TV spots. Both are presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

  Overall  
Contract

It is hard to believe that this film went so unnoticed by the movie going audiences around the world. I thought that when I saw it at the cinema and I still think that now. It is a very well crafted tale dealing with material that is not commonly dealt with in films of this nature. It succeeds wonderfully in the messages that it tries to portray.

The transfer does Tigerland justice and thankfully keeps things true to how the film was designed to be seen. The extras are not really that great, but the commentary is worth a listen. Overall, if you are a fan of war films then you should at least see this and probably buy it. Even if you aren’t a war film fan it would still be very much worth your while to hire this title.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2021
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      And I quote...
    "A gem in the rough that went unnoticed by the vast majority. Grab this and watch it ASAP."
    - Robert Mack
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE475
    • Speakers:
          Sony
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony
    • Surrounds:
          Sony
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony Active Superwoofer
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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