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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Italian, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 10 Deleted scenes
  • 2 Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 8 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • 5 Filmographies

xXx: CE

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 119 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Director Rob Cohen and actor Vin Diesel reunite after the success of The Fast and the Furious for the explosive xXx. Said by some to be the new James Bond with attitude, xXx sees the “condom full of walnuts” take on the spy genre and give it a new lease of life. This time the main character is not your suave, sophisticated type, he is more the sort you would see competing at the Xtreme Sports games. If it’s action that you want, then look no further, as this film has more than you could possibly imagine.

The film opens with the obnoxious Senator Dick Hotchkiss giving the keys to his Corvette to a valet, not realising the valet is in fact Xander Cage (Diesel). Take note of the number plate of the car, it is VOTE4DICK. Xander Cage is an extreme sports fanatic and due to the senator’s feelings on music and video games, he decides to teach him a lesson. Cage races off in the car and meets up with some friends who attach cameras to the car and take their positions. While being chased by a cavalcade of police cars, Cage drives the Corvette off a very high bridge, surfing it for most of the descent until parachuting to safety. His friends are waiting below to rush him away, capturing everything on film for an underground website. This opening scene will give you an idea of what is to follow for the next two hours, fast paced, excessive and over the top action.

"You're in the Xander Zone"

Next we see a raid on Cage’s apartment and he is taken into custody. After a few tests that involve a lot more explosions, extreme motorcross bike riding, drug lords and guns, Cage is recruited to become a new breed of spy. After the loss of many of the standard type spies in the field, NSA boss Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) has the ingenious plan to recruit hardened criminals. His theory being that his new recruits will not easily be detected by those that they are trying to infiltrate because they are much the same.

Cage is sent to Prague to try and infiltrate a gang that are involved in a lot of underground activity. The gang soon accepts him, even their leader Yorgi (Marton Csokas), who soon welcomes Cage into his world. The gang are a group of Russians known as Anarchy 99 who have more planned than standard criminal activity. Cage soon discovers their intentions and, of course, must save the world. Standard spy criteria really, but only this time the spy doesn’t fit the standard spy category. There is snowboarding through an avalanche, a car chase involving a boat, being chased on a motorbike by helicopters, everything you can imagine and more.

" Before you ask someone to save the world, you'd better make sure they like it the way it is!"

This is a big budget production in every sense. The explosions are endless, the locations are impressive, the gadgets are numerous and the special effects are impressive. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously either, giving the impression that it is fully aware that it's over the top and enjoying the thrill ride as much as the viewer. Over 500 stuntmen were used in the filming of xXx, which will give you an idea of how many stunts are involved. Also take into account that Vin Diesel did much of his own stunt work and you can only imagine the amount of action there is. One stuntman sadly lost his life while filming a scene on the river in Prague.

Vin Diesel is, well Vin Diesel. He is not going to win any Academy Awards in the near future, but I doubt he cares. He has it all, the looks, the body, the voice and the attitude, and he will no doubt become a bigger star than he already is. His one liner deliveries are corny and excessive to say the least, but this is fitting of the feeling of the whole film, going from the sublime to the ridiculous via Prague with everything in between. The supporting cast, apart from Samuel L Jackson, are hardly graduates from the Shakespearian Society, but they don’t need to be, they deliver all that the script requires. All the characters are your standard stereotypical bunch and for this film, Oscar performances were not required. This is not to say the acting is bad, it is just as good as it needs to be for these roles. As Vin Diesel is pretty much in every scene, the supporting cast is there to do just that – support. The love interest of Yelena is played by Asia Argento, who tends to pout for most of the film, and although giving the impression she can kick some serious butt, she never really does. There are also appearances from extreme sports stars Tony Hawk, Mat Hoffman and Brian Deegan, said by the director to be appearing as approval of the film, but I dare say the pay cheque helped at least a little.

xXx2 is due to begin filming later this year with a release date set for 2004, and if they can keep up this high octane standard, who knows how many will follow? It is never going to be a threat to James Bond, but it does make a nice alternative. As long as you don’t expect too much dramatic content then you will love xXx. It is eXtreme, eXplosive, eXcessive and eXcellent!

  Video
Contract

Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, this transfer is wonderful. The picture is sharp throughout with good use of bold colours that are well saturated. There are a couple of instances of edge enhancement and a few specks of dirt on the print, but apart from these minor issues, the transfer is very impressive. Blacks are solid and detail is spot on and there is only a slight amount of grain in some areas that cause no problems. The varying scenery, filmed beautifully by Dean Semler, is captured and presented extremely well, from the snow-capped mountains to the tropical Bora Bora to the city of Prague. Overall this transfer is close to reference quality and any viewers should be more than happy with it.

  Audio
Contract

Audio is supplied is a choice of English and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 and this aggressive soundtrack is superb. Right from the opening scene, the surrounds kick in and they don’t stop until the closing credits. Every little sound can be heard from every direction making the viewer feel they are right in the middle of the action. The subwoofer never gets a rest either, just as it recovers from the last explosion something else happens and it is forced back into life.

The excellent musical soundtrack supplied by Randy Edelman is superbly supported by hard-hitting tracks from artists such as Queens of the Stone Age, the Chemical Brothers, Moby and Rammstein, to name a few, and as you would expect, these suit the film perfectly. Overall, this is as good as it gets for this type of film and is almost of reference quality.

  Extras
Contract

There are extras galore for this release. The producers took into account the success of the DVD release of The Fast and the Furious and catered for the DVD release of xXx when making this feature. As director Rob Cohen states, people who buy the DVD should get that something extra and here he delivers. There is one minor featurette missing that is on the region 1 release and the teaser trailers are different, but overall we get a good selection on the region 4 release.

Director’s Commentary
Director Rob Cohen delivers quite an interesting commentary for this release. He gives some good insight into the process of making xXx and provides some interesting technical information. He also expands on the amount of people involved in this production along with the locations and the detail that went into the most minor of issues. A couple of annoyances with this commentary are that Cohen seems to be a bit full of himself and is a bit over the top when talking about Vin Diesel. When he talks about Diesel I couldn’t help but think back to the quote from Diesel in the film that says ”Is this guy gonna hump my leg or what?” Overall though Cohen has a voice that is easy to listen to and most should enjoy this commentary.

xXx A Filmmaker’s Diary
Split into two parts, this featurette with a total running time of 40 minutes looks at the entire process of making this film. After the success of The Fast and the Furious, director Rob Cohen decided to make this feature for the DVD release and allowed a film crew full access for every day of filming. Part one looks at the US and pre-production, while part two looks at Prague and post production. It is full of behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew and covers the entire journey from day one to the editing process. The option is to play both consecutively and they are interesting and informative.

Featurettes
Three featurettes are included in this section. Building Speed: The Vehicles of xXx (6:56) looks at the cars used in the film, Designing the World of xXx (14:36) looks at locations and gadgets used and Diesel Powered (6:51) looks at the lead actor himself, the driving force of the film. The region 1 release also included a featurette entitled The GTO is Back which is not included here.

Visual Effects How To’s
Creating the Mountain Avalanche (1:10), Creating the Avalanche (1:18) and Shack Explosion (:38) are the three featured segments of film here. They can all be watched in silence or with commentary from the visual effects supervisor and give a good insight into the special effects process.

Deleted Scenes
There are ten scenes available here with running times varying from 28 seconds to 4:59. They are a nice addition and with commentary available from Rob Cohen, it is explained why they didn’t make the final cut.

Gavin Rossdale’s Adrenaline Muisc Video
The lead singer from Bush was brought in to make an xXx theme song and this video is the end result. It runs for 4:19 and is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with DD 2.0 stereo sound.

Filmographies
Text filmographies are available for director Rob Cohen, writer Rich Wilkes, Vin Diesel, Samuel L Jackson and Asia Argento.

Trailers
There is a theatrical trailer for xXx (:56) in 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. There are also teaser trailers for National Security (1:51) and I Spy (2:16), both in 1.85:1 and with DD 5.1.

  Overall  
Contract

xXx will never be a threat to the James Bond franchise, but this film does offer a new slant on the spy genre. It is action packed, ridiculous, silly and terrific. If you are a fan of films that contain non-stop action and very little character development then look no further. The video and audio transfer are superb and the extras are abundant, so I would recommend you rush out and buy this, or at least rent it. If nothing else, you get two hours of Vin Diesel and let's face it, can we ever get enough of Vin?


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      And I quote...
    "...eXtreme, eXcessive and eXplosive - xXx is eXcellent!"
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS305
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SAVE815ED
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