The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 98 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Steven Seagal, Dmitry Chepovetsky
Directed by: Jeff F. King
Music by: Peter Allen
Written by: Mark James
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 19, 2009
"Honor must be earned"
Get ready for bullets, blood, and bodies hitting the ground, because international action superstar Steven Seagal is back with a vengeance! Enter the lethal world of Driven To Kill - a take-no-prisoners crime saga that pits Seagal against a deadly criminal syndicate! Seagal stars as Ruslan Drachev, a highly-respected former enforcer in the New York-based Russian Mob, who long ago abandoned the gangland lifestyle to pursue a more peaceful career as a crime novelist. But his world is turned upside down when he learns that his daughter is engaged to marry a Russian gangster who also happens to be Ruslan's cold-hearted nemesis from the bad old days. When a shocking act of brutality forces Ruslan to return to the sinister underbelly of his past, he must mete out his own merciless, murderous brand of justice, until no enemy is left standing!
Driven to kill is a direct to video action film that was shot with a limited budget and fairly unknown cast. Seagal plays Ruslan Drachev a former Russian mob badboy who made an agreement, years ago, to leave New York and not return. He has a daughter Lanie that was raised by her mother Catherine, who is now married to attorney Terry who has a questionable background. Lanie is engaged to be married and Ruslan returns to attend her wedding. He meets her fiancé Stephan, and finds out that he is the son of Russian mob leader Mikhail who Ruslan has history with from the old days. Ruslan questions Stephan who says that he is not his father and wants nothing to do with mob life. On the day of the wedding two thugs break into the house and attack Catherine and Lanie. The attack is set up to look like the motive was burglary. Lanie is critically wounded and Ruslan convinces the police that in order to protect her it is best if everyone believes that she died. He then goes in search of those responsible and on a quest to uncover the motive behind it. This leads him back into the dark/violent world that he left behind years ago.
I can remember when Steven Seagal was among the top box office draws for martial arts based action films. His particular style of fighting and slick tough guy persona made for entertaining action that was easy to appreciate. I wouldn't call myself a devout fan. I haven't faithfully followed his career and seen all of his films (especially the more recent ones) but I think it would be fair to say that overall I have enjoyed his movies. The fact that this film was shot on a limited budget in and of itself isn't a problem except that this film just isn't very good. The contrived plot and less than authentic sets/surroundings are obvious and when coupled with the poor acting by the cast, shallow characters, and noticeably staged action pieces it felt rather insipid. Steven Seagal's attempt at a Russian accent resulted in dialogue that at times was unintelligible and garbled. The special effects aren't especially convincing and the fight sequences feel rehashed. The hand held camera work isn't the best which made some scenes visually hard to follow. I did enjoy watching Steven Seagal unload on a few of the nameless Russian henchmen but other than that I found it hard to find much to laud in Driven to kill.
The rating is for strong violence throughout, language and some sexuality/nudity.
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:
Driven to kill comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 4 mbps.
This is a lackluster high definition video presentation that is among the worst that I have seen on Blu-ray Disc. Images are routinely soft and lacking in fine articulation. There are occasional moments where a close up will reveal a higher level of discernible texture in facial features but rendering still falls short of the crispness and resolute depth of the better Blu-ray Discs I have seen. Wide angle shots are among the worst offenders as many of them appear out of focus. The video is grainy, noisy and contains some rather ugly artifacts that appear to be compression related. The worst example coming during chapter 9 at the 38:34 mark as Ruslan and Stephan sit in a car. In the upper part of the frame above their heads (near the sun visors) breaks up into white blocks that move and dance around. Blacks are fairly deep but crushed and shadow detail is just average which makes dark segments appear one dimensional and flat. Colors are cleanly rendered but are not particularly vibrant and fleshtones have a balmy tonal quality that leaves them looking dull and a bit lifeless. The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack yields quality that reveals the limitations of the film's budget. Dialogue with is clearly conveyed (with the noted exception of Seagal's gravely muttering) through the center channel. The mix has a distinct front channel emphasis with mild rear channel ambience used to fill in background sounds such as street noise and music/crowd noises in sequence that takes place in a strip club. The action based sequences containing gunplay lack the dynamic quality to provide realistic impact/emphasis to heavy duty weaponry like shotguns and automatic machine guns. I found this to be quite obvious which made these segments much less involving. The music score was played back through the main channels with splashes of rear channel ambience used to broaden depth. It sounded fine although I found the music to be a bit strange. For an action film I found this presentation to be sorely lacking and a disappointment.
There are no bonus features.
Driven to kill is a below average action film that showcases an aging Steve Seagal who still has some chops but that wasn't enough to overcome this rather disappointing effort. Unfortunately for fans this Blu-ray Disc presentation doesn't fare any better. Its poor video quality, one dimensional sound and zero bonus supplements add up to a lackluster experience that isn't recommended.
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