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The company touts "nothing but the good stuff" and while I do like the concept of a compilation disc offering the finest moments from a certain genre of films, I am not particularly thrilled with the actual execution of FLIXMIX: ULTIMATE FIGHTS ($20) on DVD. "Nothing but the good stuff" should mean great clips and the best possible presentations of those movie sequences. Unfortunately, most of the ULTIMATE FIGHTS from the movies are offered in full frame presentations that would appear to be geared to the typical K-Mart shopper, instead of movie fans with a nice home theater set up. A few of the clips are shown in their proper aspect ratios, but it almost seems as if the producers of the DVD were unable to secure pan and scan versions of those particular scenes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still like the concept of FLIXMIX: ULTIMATE FIGHTS DVD. Watching this disc made me want to get a copy of all of the films featured in the compilation- in their proper aspect ratios, of course. The fifty-four minute program itself is an adrenaline rush of entertainment, offering fight scenes from sixteen separate movies. Types of fighting vary from fistfights to martial arts fights to gunfights to knife fights and to swordfights- all staged at a heightened level of reality, although some feature a genuine air of brutality.

The clips themselves, while pretty good choices, seem to be limited to what the producers of this DVD could readily license. Clips are culled from the following movies RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, BLADE, FIST OF LEGEND, SNATCH, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, SCARFACE, LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER, CROSSING THE LINE, THE PLAYER’S CLUB, GLADIATOR, TIMECOP, DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, THEY LIVE, BLACK MASK, FIRST BLOOD, and THE KILLER. Performers featured in the clips include Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Jean Claude Van Damme, Michelle Yeoh, Brad Pitt, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Al Pacino, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, Sylvester Stallone, and Chow Yun Fat.

The image quality of the FLIXMIX: ULTIMATE FIGHTS DVD varies from clip to clip- some look clean and crisp, while other are taken from dirty prints that have a VHS caliber resolution. Everything is certainly watchable, but there is nothing here to showcase the quality of the fight scenes themselves. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a pumped up quality that enhances the sound mixes of films that predate the digital formats. All of the clips sound pretty good, with the newer films sounding better than those that have been around for a decade or more. Without a doubt, the pumped up sound will help viewers lose themselves in the fight of the moment.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVD’s excellent supplemental materials. The DVD offers two different audio commentaries. First up is a running commentary with Hong Kong director Tsui Hark who discusses the technical aspects and merits of each fight. The second commentary track features actor/martial artist/fight coordinator James Lew. However, instead of a running commentary Lew’s comments are accessible on a scene-by-scene basis in the Fight Cards section of the supplements. Lew’s commentary is very insightful, coming from the perspective of a stunt coordinator- examining things move by move. The Fight Cards section also offers the statistics for each fight including weapons, blows struck by opponents and the type of fighting engaged in by the participants.

Behind The Punches: How To Stage Your Own Fight is a ten-minute featurette hosted by James Lew, who shows the ins and outs of movie fighting and how stunts are performed. Look for actor/martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme to interject his comments throughout the program. Fighter Profiles offer biographies for the actors/fighters appearing in the clips. The Ultimate Rumble Party Mix turns the entire program into a music video; offering nonstop techno music to backup the fight visuals. Name That Frame is an interactive game that displays a random frame from the program and offers the player a choice of films from which it came. My Top Five allows the viewer to create a playlist of their five favorite clips from the program and then play them back. The Theatrical Trailers section offers trailers for SCARFACE, LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER, DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, CROSSING THE LINE, GLADIATOR, TIMECOP, THEY LIVE, BLACK MASK, FIRST BLOOD, and THE KILLER.

With a solid concept and great extras, FLIXMIX: ULTIMATE FIGHTS could have been a truly first rate compilation DVD. Unfortunately, the quality of the clips, and the fact that they lack their correct 16:9 enhanced aspect ratios, leaves a lot to be desired for anyone wishing to have fun with this disc in a home theater setting. However, anyone that intends to watch this disc while guzzling beer in front of their 19-inch television set won’t find fault with the technical aspects of its presentation. Now excuse me, while I run out for a six-pack…


Ultimate Fights (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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