Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Lord of War, which tells the fact based story of an arms dealer that confronts the morality of his work as he is being chased by an Interpol Agent.


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89

Details:

Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2005
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 121 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Jared Leto, Bridget Moynahan, Ethan Hawke, Ian Holm
Written & Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Music by: Antonio Pinto
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 19, 2019
"Where There’s a Will, There’s a Weapon"
Synopsis:

“Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage thrills in this action-packed true story of a gunrunner who supplied dictators and outran the law for nearly 20 years.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

My Take:

Lord of War follows the 20-year arms dealing career of Queens, N.Y., outcast Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) and serves as a window onto the end of the Cold War and the emergence of worldwide terrorism. He finds himself reassuring his more ethically challenged younger brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto), while adeptly sidestepping the pursuit of federal agent Jack Lawrence (Ethan Hawke). The globetrotting arms dealer also pursues the woman of his dreams, supermodel Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan).

Lord of War was inspired by the real-life exploits of former Soviet military officer Viktor Bout who remade himself as an international arms dealer and blood diamonds trafficker following the break-up of the USSR. I don’t know much about the real story but, I have always enjoyed this film and have owned it on Blu-ray since its release. Not a perfect film by any means but, I like its dark wit, semi-conscience cautionary tale and binding social commentary. I am most assuredly a Nicholas Cage fan and enjoy his performance which, truth be told, anchors the entire film. I am please that Lionsgate has opted to bring it and other catalog release of its ilk to Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong violence, drug use, language and sexuality.

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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Lord of War comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atoms/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Lord of War has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

I have previously seen Lord of War in standard and high definition. Looking at the film's opening moments, the improvement in depth and delineation was immediately noticeable. I noticed that film grain took on more emphasis here and there which some may interpret as background noise, but I didn’t detect any extraneous noise. It’s not an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements. The cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and warmer chromatic accents. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition. Color reproduction benefited from the wider color gamut, especially blues, and reds which pop nicely. The wide-angle shots of New York and Africa look terrific, reveling lots of textures and wonderfully rendered earth tones.

High dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. Bright highlights, such as the explosions at the dock and arms purchase in Africa, appeared vibrant, while dark highlights in most respects, were rendered with appreciable dimension, especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. Lord of War has always suffered from mild black crush here and there and that continues here. As I watched I felt as though I was rediscovering this film all over again. Hands down, this is the best Lord of War has looked on home video.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Lord of War, I found the HDR to be close, but felt that the DV rendering edged out the HDR-10. Much of this came when comparing the same scenes, and finding that the rendering of color was not only slightly deeper, but seemingly more delineated. I also thought that gradations in the white detail a bit were easier to see. While I wouldn’t categorize these differences as stark, I definitely felt that the DV rendering was my preference.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be a fairly entertaining listening experience that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done quite well, and where applied, creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. I have always enjoyed the film’s opening which follows the path a single bullet makes, from its creation, right through to its firing/target acquisition. The Atmos mix enlivened this sequence, adding enriching depth of field. In addition to things like overhead pans where sounds move through the soundstage, there are several sequences, such as Interpol’s assault on the cargo plane, that bring everything together. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this Dolby Atmos presentation was, adding a complimentary element that elevated the experience of watching the film.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Lord of War Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Lord of War Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Features
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Inspired by true events Lord of War is an entertaining, albeit, somewhat scattershot drama/thriller that I enjoy revisiting from time to time. It comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertaining in this Combo Pack featuring excellent Ultra HD video, including Dolby Vision HDR, a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive mix and legacy bonus material. If you’re a fan that is equipped for Ultra HD/Dolby Atmos sound, Lord of War has never looked or sounded better on home video so, feel free to add this one to your collection.
 
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems