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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, Arabic
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Featurette - Steve McQueens Commitment to Reality

Bullitt

Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 111 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

There have been a number of films in the last few years that car enthusiasts seem to love. It doesn't matter if the film is actually rubbish - as long as the cars depicted are cool and driven with abandon, devoted cars fans are guaranteed to flock to it.

No matter what the film and however varied the car chases, they are invariably compared to one film. And the prognosis is usually the same: 'Those chases are ok but it's not Steven McQueen and Bullitt'.

So I stopped by K-Mart where they are rushing out older Warners releases for bargain prices (esp. on 15% off days!) - what the hell? It's only $20!

So what is 'Bullitt' about besides that infamous car chase?

I would describe it as a two hour long episode of any of the copycat 'lone cop' series in the 60's and 70's. In fact you could summarise it in one sentence - Steve McQueen is a no-nonsense, straight shooting cop who is assigned to protect a star witness - but things don't go to plan. Like Harry Callahan, he is known for breaking the occasional rule to get the job done. He has a lovely English girlfriend in the shape of Jacqueline Bisset. On his back is a rather stiff 'by the book' commanding officer, an arrogant district attorney and faceless bad guys.

Sound familiar? Maybe I undersold it? It is however done in a very straight forward and uncluttered style. I liked the way it was presented - I did not mind at all that it felt like an old cop show. I was drawn into the movie because of it's minimalism. I watched it and felt like I was transported to another era.

  Video
Contract

The video is rather good for its age. Grain is certainly evident. The colours are rather muted and resolution is obviously limited - you cannot 'see forever' in some scenes unlike modern films. Depth of field is deliberately limited?

In fact, I would say that those who are hobbled with rather modest television sets will not be losing out on much. Black levels are rather poor - you can see this quite evidently when the black Charger drives into the shadows and all the detail is lost. Despite that, I found the 'old worlde' style presentation rather fitting. The rather limited colour palette works in this case. There is a certain 'rightness' about it. You might say the limited contrast fits the mood of the era.

There was nothing that the dvd compression process could take away from - the original stock seems well served by modern MPEG2 compression techniques. Very slight edge enhancement issues I could see but they seems limited to the edges of fast moving cars and static colour scenery. Nitpicking!

  Audio
Contract

Not much to say here - it's Dolby 2.0 Surround. I could detect very little surround or sub activity. The stereo was effectively used however. Anyway you shake it, the sound is poor compared to any modern film. It sounds definitely compressed. Intelligibility is fine. Volume levels sometimes varied from scene to scene but not in an wholly annoying fashion. The music did not make itself apparent - it seemed to accompany every scene well.

I might compare it to Michael Mann's De Niro/Pacino film 'Heat' - it too had scenes in a hospital and on a airport runway. In that film every nuance of the hospital for example, is rendered in excruciating clarity - the beeping EKG machines, the hissing air pumps, the bustling of EMT's etc. These things are not clear in 'Bullitt'. Thirty years is a whole generation. In 1968, only two channel stereo magnetic tape was used. When 'Heat' was made, multichannel digital was already well established. The airport sequence is well handled however.

The chase scene however, sounds glorious. The two cars sound wonderful wound up. The screeching tyres, the bouncing redlines, the crashes - if anything, it sounded like it was 'sweetened' in post processing. Never mind - the sound is half the experience and it's so true here. It is recorded quite a bit louder than the other parts.

  Extras
Contract

There are the obligatory trailer, biographies and recommendations. There's also Arabic subtitles (!!!). Menus are 'functional' at best. Of note however is a short documentary with some choice words from McQueen himself and some rather expert caning of the two cars. The 1967 Ford Mustang is one of my faves so I rather liked the footage.

  Overall  
Contract

In light of its low cost and decent presentation, I rate it high on value. The extras are skimpy although the documentary is quite reasonable. If you collect stuff like Ronin, The Italian Job and have pre-ordered 'Gone in 60 Seconds', you need this one - badly.

You also need an appreciation of the older titles - DVD isn't all dts 5.1, rear activity and subwoofer excursion. If you don't like this sort of thing you might ask yourself why you would pay $20 for what seems at times like a telemovie. Non fans might want to rent first.


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      And I quote...
    ""
    - Tony Lai
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 105(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          Geforce2 32MB AGP
    • Projector:
          Panasonic 1024x768 LCD Projector
    • Decoder:
          Sony TA-E9000ES
    • Amplifier:
          Parasound HCA-1206THX
    • Speakers:
          Mission 763
    • Centre Speaker:
          Mission 75c
    • Surrounds:
          Mission 760
    • Subwoofer:
          Mission 75as
    • Audio Cables:
          rca coaxial SPDIF
    • Video Cables:
          VGA connector
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