The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 1975
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 119 Minutes
Genre: Crime Thriller
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish/French Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin
Starring: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Bernard Fresson, Cathleen Nesbitt
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Music by: Don Ellis
Written by: Robert Dillon & Laurie Dillon
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 24, 2009
"The climax to the French Connection"
Gene Hackman reprises his Oscar®-winning role as Popeye Doyle, the hard-nosed New York detective determined to break a French narcotics ring. Kidnapped by heroin kingpin Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) in Marseilles, Doyle is mercilessly forced to become a junkie himself. Upon his release, Doyle must kick his habit and join forces with his French police counterpart (Bernard Fresson) to hunt down Charnier. Gritty action, riveting performances and a vividly realistic setting make this movie a powerful sequel to the brilliant original.
I don't think that I have ever seen this film in its entirety. It doesn't have the intense, hard edged and gritty feel of the French Connection but I thought it was well conceived and executed as it brought a satisfying sense of closure to the original. Gene Hackman gives another staunch performance as Jimmy Popeye Doyle the hard nosed, unflappable and determined NY City cop who has come to France to finish what began in the final act of the first film. Jimmy goes to Marseilles, France in search of Charnier the man responsible for the 60 keys of heroin that Jimmy and Cloudy recovered as part of the narcotics investigation depicted in the French Connection. Jimmy's style goes against the grain of the lead French Detective Barthelemy who quickly establishes that his act won't be tolerated. Never to be shown up (especially by a Frenchmen!) Jimmy strikes out on his own but trips up when unbeknownst to him, Charnier spots him from a restaurant window near the beach. Charnier has him followed and kidnapped in order to find out how much Jimmy knows about his latest deal. Jimmy is bound and injected with Heroin in order to get him to divulge what he knows. He is forcibly addicted to it and nearly dies as a result. Of course he doesn't die and is subsequently freed but undergoes a tough bought of stone cold withdrawal that also nearly kills him. After recovering and with the help of the French Police he locates Charnier. Not to be denied Jimmy ends up in an extended chase which culminates in him doing what he does best.
Hackman is such a fine actor and while I didn't find this film to be on par with the French Connection I did thoroughly enjoy his reprisal of the character. John Frankenheimer is an astute director who knows how to helm a character driven film. There are aspects of the movie that can't help but feel dated and the Hollywood spin is plainly obvious but this is a notably engaging film. Like in the original I loved the ending and thought that it was a perfectly suited to the edgy, hard nosed style of Popeye Doyle. I glad that I finally got a chance to see this follow up to one of the best cop movies of all time. It was worth the wait.
The rating is for thematic material, drug content and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The French Connetion comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
This video presentation generally offers stable image quality that compliment its age. Detail in close ups and mid level shots are well refined with noticeable texture that slowly diminishes as objects are further away from the camera. The felt fabric of Popeye's fedora and the coarse lines of the band can easily be seen as he stands in a French Bar having a drink (in chapter 9). The interior of the room where he is held has plenty of delineation in the objects, walls and surfaces. The colors of the period clothing worn by the cast and the various backgrounds, landscapes and objects had natural tonal balance and pleasing saturation. Fleshtones were similarly rendered and came across with lifelike quality. Blacks had good contrast with deep highlights and resolvable detail in low light and shadows. Bright sequences were lively, with crisp whites and gradational grays. Grain is prevalent throughout and serves to give the video a filmic texture that isn't overstated (with the exception of the opening sequence). This film has a noticeably different visual style than The French Connection. It lends itself to perceivably higher fidelity that looks better in high definition. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack doesn't offer an immersive surround sound experience. The presentation is one dimensional with a frontal perspective that has a condensed soundstage. Dialogue, music, and recorded sounds, are all played back through the center channel which contributes to this. The recording's elements are notably dated which sometimes results in anemic sounding effects. Surround activity is limited to low level musical and atmospheric ambience that is bled to the rear channels. This is ineffective at creating a cohesive blend between the front and rear soundfields due to poorly integrated surround mix. It does have more presence than the mono audio track however the difference was minimal.
- Commentary by Director John Frankenheimer
- Commentary by Gene Hackman & Producer Robert Rosen
- (HD) Frankenheimer: In focus - 25 minute documentary
- (HD) A conversation with Gene Hackman - 7 minute featurette
- D-Box motion code enabled
- Still galleries
- Isolated score track - DTS-HD Master Audio
- (HD) Theatrical trailer - English, Spanish, and Portuguese versions
- (HD) Fox on Blu-ray - The French Connection trailer
The French Connection II is a sequel that befits the original classic French Connection film. It doesn't equal it in scope but is an entertaining and engrossing thriller that brings closure to the story. Fox has done a nice job bringing this film to Blu-ray Disc as it appears to closely resemble its theatrical presentation. The bonus material is highlighted by the audio commentary tracks and watching/listening to Gene Hackman discuss these films is always a pleasure. If you're a fan I would recommend picking this one up.
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